By Ryan Cornell
Ben & Jerry's unveiled a new ice cream flavor last weekend in Washingtion, D.C., that included a garnish produced in Shenandoah County.
The new flavor is part of a Ben & Jerry's campaign called "City Churned' that aims to turn major U.S. cities like D.C., Seattle, Portland, New York City and San Francisco into new flavors.
Volunteers who participated in a community event at The Farm at Walker Jones in Washington, D.C., were the first to taste the district's flavor, dubbed "Capitol Chill." It was created from a blend of chocolate ice cream, chocolate-covered cornflakes and a marshmallow and caramel swirl. Topping it off was a sweet potato chip from Route 11 Potato Chips in Mount Jackson.
"It came out of nowhere," said Sarah Cohen, Route 11 Potato Chips founder and president. "I think they were looking for companies in the D.C. area and were considering local producers for the D.C. market. I think they liked our company story and sustainability mission."
Similar to Ben & Jerry's stance on environmental issues, Route 11 recycles its heat and waste, and potato peelings and rejected chips are given to a farmer a half mile away from the plant.
Pint collectors might be aware that Ben & Jerry's "Late Night Snack" features fudge-covered potato chips in its ice cream. When Cohen was approached by the Vermont-based company about two months ago, she was reluctant about the idea of the chips being churned with ice cream.
"It would get soggy," she said. "I suggested just putting a sweet potato chip on top of a scoop and using it as a garnish."
Cohen wasn't able to taste the creation herself because she was in New York City last weekend as an exhibitor at the Summer Fancy Food Show. She said the sweet potato chips are her company's second most popular variety.
Sean Greenwood, Ben & Jerry's public relations director, noted that the company's team "ordered up different options to try and selected those that we thought might jibe with the overall ingredient list, hence the sweet potato chips."
He added that the Route 11 chip has a "perfect hint of salt, which helped bring the flavor out."
The ingredients of Capitol Chill were chosen by votes tallied by the ice cream company, using some unconventional methods. The sweet potato chips defeated cinnamon as an ingredient because there were more Foursquare check-ins at law offices than government buildings in the city.
Although the feedback from Capitol Chill was very positive overall, according to Greenwood, the sweet and salty treat probably won't be joining the freezer aisle ranks with Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia.
"The thought was more: 'How do we bring some fun to these cities, combine with our community project and include some awesome local ingredients?'" he said.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org