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Ben & Jerry Creamed

Stephen Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board, tours Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream factory in Stowe, Vermont, and finds it to be a socially-conscious enterprise that only a conservative could love. “Their factory,” he writes in a Journal op-ed piece, “is a monument to the efficiencies of capitalism and technological progress: Several dozen giant computer-operated machines churn out hundreds of thousands of cartons a day.” He continues: “I half expect the massive energy-gulping freezers to be solar-paneled or powered by green-friendly windmills, but no, they use lots and lots of conventional electricity. It turns out that if you want really good ice cream, you just have to tolerate a little more global warming,” adding: “That’s a trade-off that I personally am willing to make.”

That’s the first of a few ironies, in Stephen Moore’s estimation. The second irony: “This product is probably about as good for your health as a pack of Camel cigarettes — and at least cigarettes carry the Surgeon General’s warning labels,” he writes. “At Ben & Jerry’s, the saying goes, ‘if you can’t eat a whole pint .. in one sitting, you aren’t really trying.’ But if you do, you might as well be injecting your arteries with Elmer’s glue … And they have no qualms about marketing this dangerous product to children. If you want to know the definition of a liberal’s dilemma,” Mr. Moore writes, “just wait until the trial lawyers slap Ben & Jerry’s with a billion-dollar lawsuit.” Yet another irony, Mr. Moore suggests, is the new, $5 million advertising campaign Ben & Jerry’s recently launched as part of an effort to return to “leading with its values.”

The irony here is not that Ben & Jerry’s is lagging with its media strategy, but that its “first ads are dedicated to saving the family farm.” Mr. Moore writes: “I couldn’t help asking our tour guide during the Q&A why, if corporatization of farming is such a bad thing, that isn’t also true of the corporatization of ice cream.” He’s referring, of course, to the fact that Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield “got filthy rich by selling out to corporate food giant Unilever” back in 2000. But that’s cool for conservatives, who can appreciate the “price-gouging” on pints of ice-cream in the gift shop. Ben & Jerry’s, says Mr. Moore, “is one of the best capitalists you’ll ever come across.” He concludes: “So, as a lover of freedom, I can, in good conscience, shell out $4 a pint for Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, eat it out of the carton in one sitting — my arteries be damned — and still feel good about myself in the morning.”