Yesterday Ben & Jerry's, a division of the British-Dutch Unilever conglomerate, announced a new flavor called "Late Night Snack" in partnership with late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon — a vanilla bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge-covered potato chip clusters.
And last night famed San Francisco-based ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe tweeted: "Wow, nice new flavor Ben & Jerry. When's the last time you had dinner @Sporksf?"
Turns out that Spork Restaurant in San Francisco exclusively serves the "After School Special" ice cream produced by Humphry Slocombe which has nearly the identical ingredients: "Chocolate-covered Ridge potato chips swirled with caramel in Tahitian Vanilla." Apparently it's the restaurant's top-selling dessert and was created over two years ago. To note: Ben & Jerry's uses kettle chips instead of ridged chips, which is a minor difference.
While the combination of chocolate-covered potato chips, caramel, and vanilla ice cream could very well be a popular idea that's gotten around, is it also possibly a case of a big corporation ripping off the small indie ice cream shop? We reached out to Humphry Slocombe's co-owner and ice cream master Jake Godby for a statement, and he replied:
The creative process draws on inspiration from countless sources. We know this and would not be able to do what we are doing if it were not for the example and support of all the talented people we know.
It's flattering when people look at your work and want to use it as a point of reference. It's altogether a different matter though when it is a corporation taking the work of a small neighborhood ice cream shop and simply duplicating it on mass scale with no credit.
On their Facebook page, Humprhy Slocombe joked that "We're excited for our royalty check."
If it was the case of recipe theft, surely Ben & Jerry's parent Unilever, which had 3rd quarter net income in 2010 of $1.77 billion, would be able to afford it.
We've reached out to Jimmy Fallon to see if he was aware of Humphry Slocombe's ice cream and will update this post if and when he does get back to us.