LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Vermont's Ben & Jerry's newest ice cream flavor sounds more likely to tickle funny bones than taste buds: "Schweddy Balls."
The company known for provocative or progressive themed names for its frozen treats said the latest creation was a tribute to a 1998 skit on NBC's Saturday Night Live starring actor Alec Baldwin.
In the skit, Baldwin plays a baker named Pete Schweddy who is trying to market his rum balls, popcorn balls and cheese balls as "Schweddy Balls."
"I don't think it's shock marketing," said Sean Greenwood, a spokesman for the company, a unit of Netherlands-based Unilever N.V. "It isn't 'Let's try to put a dirty name on a pint and sell it' but 'Let's try to put a tie on a show that's been running for 37 years.'"
The flavor, which mixes vanilla and rum-flavored ice cream with fudge-covered rum balls and chocolate malt balls, will be available through the end of the year.
The company promises consumers that the limited batch will be a favorite, echoing a line from the skit. "You won't be able to resist our Schweddy Balls!"
Past popular flavors include "Cherry Garcia," in homage to the late Grateful Dead guitarist; "Karamel Sutra," a play on the name of an ancient Indian sex manual; and 'Half Baked' and 'Magic Brownies,' names associated with marijuana use.
In 2009, in support of a Vermont effort to legalize gay marriage, the company temporarily renamed its "Chubby Hubby" ice cream "Hubby Hubby."
"We've talked with SNL over the years about partnering with classic skits, there were a myriad of ideas," Greenwood said. "It's really that kind of irreverence and double entendre that we like."
Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston