UI alumni and student create Ben and Jerry’s-themed podcast

On Sept. 4, The Flavorcast debuted. Created by two UI alumni and one UI student, the trio tastes and reviews Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors.


Co-hosts of The Flavorcast Jacob Ohrt (left) and Brillian Qi-Bell (right) pose with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. (Contributed)

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Editor

Elijah Jones and Jacob Ohrt could be described as Ben and Jerry’s fanatics. The University of Iowa alumni and best friends grew up discussing the latest flavors, packaging, and intertwined social-justice advocacy that their beloved ice cream brand debuted.

Later, however, the two noticed an informational element missing from their Ben and Jerry’s repertoire — nowhere, not even on the Ben and Jerry’s website, was every one of the company’s ice cream flavors documented.

To remedy this predicament, Jones began collecting pint tops in 2017 to keep track of the flavors.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. in full force in mid-March, Jones reached out to fellow UI theater student and Ben and Jerry’s pint collector Brillian Qi-Bell, semi-joking about creating a podcast on Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. He began to love the new idea and decided to see it come to fruition, thus creating The Flavorcast, a podcast dedicated to reviewing Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors.

Jones, Ohrt, and Qi-Bell serve as co-hosts. Having completed their first season last semester, the trio are preparing for the second season, which will debut on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, and Spotify on March 5. Viewers can also find links to the podcast on Facebook (The Flavorcast) and Twitter (@TheFlavorcast).

“One day I was just thinking, ‘Is there a way that I would like to document this hobby?’” Jones said. “And I thought a podcast would be a great way to do it. All of my favorite podcasts are usually revealing something but then also giving trivia about something. I really like the mixture of opinion and then learning something that I never knew before.”

During the 30-minute dialogue, the trio munches on a pint of the flavor they are reviewing, a gimmick that Jones felt necessary for The Flavorcast.

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“It makes me feel like there’s a little bit more credibility to what we’re saying, and a little bit more of like an accomplishment,” he said. “Because in order to review the flavor, we have to actually have it with us in hand.”

Elijah Jones, University of Iowa theater arts alumni and co-host, poses with Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream. (Contributed)

The co-hosts introduce the flavor while the theme song, “Wishing Well” — created by Jones — lightly plays in the background. They then read the flavor description and calorie intake, take a taste, and rate it through subcategories: flavor, texture, balance, and pint design. The podcasters also throw in some Ben and Jerry’s trivia and see if there’s cultural relevance to the flavor’s release date.

Qi-Bell established the subcategories and said they needed criteria to add validity to their opinions. Texture plays a lead role in the review process because Ben and Jerry’s places such an emphasis on it, she said. Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s, has a condition where he has little sense of taste and no sense of smell, according to the company’s website.

“He relies mainly on the texture of ice cream to eat it, which is why a lot of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is textured,” Qi-Bell said.

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She added that there are several wacky flavors, bringing forth the idea of reviewing the flavor balance and texture. For instance, Jones queried, how does the mixture of caramel and vanilla taste with the crunchy part of the ice cream?

And then there’s the review of the pint design. With its bright colors and funky designs, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is hard to miss in the frozen food aisle. Ohrt said he remembers the pints’ unique designs attracting him to the brand, which was probably Ben and Jerry’s intention, he said.

“The way they differentiate their product — I really like their pint designs, kinda like the cartoony design they go for,” Ohrt said. “… I just think they do a really good job at marketing their product.”

Then, the team gives their overall score, though there isn’t a mathematical algorithm to the process.

“It’s really just sort of, how did we feel about everything overall?” Jones said. “What’s the weight of each thing we like or don’t like?”

At the conclusion of each episode, the trio reminisces on what Jones describes as a “fallen flavor;” a discontinued flavor no longer among the pints that sit in the frozen food aisle at the local grocery store.

“We either look at it through a lens of whether we’ve had it before, whether we want it again, or whether we’ve never had it or whether we’d like to try it,” Jones said.

But a fallen flavor comes with a new flavor to try. The Flavorcast is scooping into season two with their review of the Phish Food flavor. Loaded with chocolate ice cream, marshmallow swirls, and chocolate fish-shaped chunks, the flavor is inspired by the band Phish and its efforts to help environmental issues, according to Ben and Jerry’s website.

In the next couple of episodes, the podcasters will taste a newly released flavor series called Topped, where the pint is “topped” with ganache. Ben and Jerry’s describes the filling as a mixture of soft chocolate that is usually within the depths of fancy treats like truffles. Whisky Biz, a Topped flavor, is likely first on the list for the Ben and Jerry’s connoisseurs to try. Taking a route contrary to fancy, The Flavorcast also plans on trying the new Doggie Desserts line. These treats are made for a canine friend, but are also people friendly, Ohrt said.

Jones added that they want to begin incorporating non-dairy and vegan Ben and Jerry’s flavors into their reviews, so everyone can be included. The Ben and Jerry’s enthusiast would also like to embed guest reviewers to the podcast, though they do not know who will speak quite yet.

Even though the podcast’s main theme is ice cream, similar to Ben and Jerry’s intertwining of the ice-cold treat with liberal and environmentally progressive political advocacy, that secondary political flavor finds its way into the pint conversation. Among the company’s flavors: Justice ReMix’d, a pint of cinnamon and chocolate ice creams with cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies, a flagship flavor for the company’s criminal-justice advocacy, which includes partnerships with social-justice nonprofits; Pecan Resistant, a fudgy pecan flavor symbolizing resisting Trump’s immigration and anti-LGBTQ policies; American Pie, an apple pie flavor packaged in a pint with a pie chart of the federal discretionary budget and pushing for shifting money from nuclear weapons to children’s services.

That’s one attractive aspect of the ice cream brand, Ohrt said, that it does a great job at being involved in social-justice causes.

“We find that to be a fan of Ben and Jerry’s, being involved politically is actually not that far away from each other,” Jones said.

Qi-Bell said her podcast experience has been extraordinary, and that it’s the perfect medium to tell all the otherwise “useless” knowledge she has on Ben and Jerry’s. Connecting with like-minded people on a beloved ice cream brand is also an aspect of the podcast she enjoys.

“It’s been so great for me to be able to use those for once because I just know too much about them for no good reason,” she said with a laugh. “And then it’s also great to connect with people who also appreciate Ben and Jerry’s as much as I do, because there’s not that many people — like some people are like, ‘Oh, I like them,’ but they’re not obsessed. So that has been absolutely fantastic.”

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