Part 42 in our ongoing blog series, “How racist is this latest cultural allusion to Jeremy Lin’s race?” I tend to give offenders the benefit of the doubt but fortune cookies were expressly forbidden in the Ten Commandments of Jeremy Lin Sensitivity. Besides, BJ is a famously liberal outfit, and there’s nothing more fun than watching Our Moral Superiors have to squirm a little for using stereotypes.
This one’s an easy lay-up. Verdict: Racist. And delicious.
The company tweeted, “On behalf of Ben Jerry’s Boston Scoop Shops, we offer a heartfelt apology if anyone was offended by our handmade Linsanity flavor that we offered at our Harvard Square location. We are proud and honored to have Jeremy Lin hail from one of our fine, local universities, and we are huge sports fans. We were swept up in the nationwide Linsanity momentum. Our intention was to create a flavor to honor Jeremy Lin’s accomplishments and his meteoric rise in the NBA, and recognize that he was a local Harvard graduate. We try to demonstrate our commitment as a Boston-based, valued-led business and if we failed in this instance, we offer our sincere apologies.”
Exclusively sold at the company’s Harvard Square location in Cambridge, Mass., Taste the Lin-Sanity contained vanilla frozen yogurt, lychee honey swirls and fortune-cookie pieces.
The Boston Globe reported that the fortune-cookie pieces were replaced by waffle cones after some customers protested that the fortune-cookie pieces perpetuated an Asian stereotype, while others complained the cookies were too soggy. The lychee element, a fruit from Southeast Asia, also caused an uproar as arguments raged that Lin was not from Asia but Northern California.
I’m offended — not by the racial elements but by the fact that ice cream artisans like Ben Jerry would foist something as inedible as fortune cookies on their customers. When they’re dry, it’s like chewing brittle, orange-infused styrofoam; I can’t even imagine the sludgy nightmare of eating them soggy. If they’re going to make the experience racist and unpalatable, why not force customers to eat it with chopsticks? Good lord.
The use of lychee is also borderline, and by “borderline” I of course mean “scrumptious.” Exit question: Why have hackles been raised about the fortune cookies but not that? Is it because something like 98 percent of Americans have no idea what a lychee is or where it comes from? Or is it because, unlike the cookie, it’s darned tasty and can’t be spared?