Peter Principle

All the news stories about Ben & Jerry’s new flavor gave my wife a start. She hadn’t seen the classic Saturday Night Live sketch from which the flavor gets its name. The Miami New Times compared it to ten other foods with terrible names, including two I spotted at my local grocery this Spring.

Guest host Alec Baldwin played a character named Pete Schweddy. He arrives at his local NPR station with a tray full of baked goods, specifically cookie balls. We can see that the “Delicious Dish” hosts, played by Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, are sampling confections. The comedy comes from the idea that a radio listener would be horrified to hear their description without seeing what was really happening.

By naming their ice cream flavor after Schweddy’s holiday treats, Ben & Jerry’s puts many shoppers in the same position as the imaginary NPR listeners in the SNL sketch. Those who saw the sketch will think it’s hysterical. Those who haven’t seen it will think the ice cream company, a  subsidiary of Unilever, has lost its mind.

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