JYC EXCLUSIVE: Yesterday Humu and I were strolling down the frozen dessert aisle of Whole Foods when we both spotted a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor: Banana Split. We noticed immediately how the logo on the ice cream container was a spot-on copy of the Hanna-Barbera Banana Splits band logo, minus the last S in the word “Splits”. Just compare the Banana Split package to the cover of the Banana Splits album I have:
Ben and Jerry’s ice cream on the left; Album from the 1960s band Banana Splits on the right
Here’s a closeup of both logos:
Since Ben & Jerry’s are (A) known for exploiting the nostalgia of the 60s to sell ice cream, and (B) unforgiving in their endless barrage of shameless product tie-ins, I wouldn’t put it past them to license the classic bubble-gum band to shill for them. I’m sure the Splits would do it.
I picked up the carton and scanned the entire package to see if there was any credit or trademark assignment to Hanna-Barbera, who signed the Banana Splits supergroup to their label and gave them a show back in the 1970s. I did find a copyright notice for the cow illustration that appears on the back of the carton, but I found nothing to indicate that Ben and Jerry’s had licensed the Banana Splits logo.
Is is possible that Ben & Jerry’s is the most recent company to pull a Todd Goldman and appropriate someone else’s art to pass off as their own? I contacted Ben & Jerry’s to find out more, but I have not heard back from them yet. So I decided to go straight to the source and talk to the Banana Splits themselves.
Not The First Time
I got in touch Bingo, the enigmatic second-banana of the Banana Splits (although most music scholars agree he was the “John Lennon” of the group), for his comments. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was unaware of the situation. Like most bands from the 70s, the Splits signed over all of their rights to their record label in exchange for fame and fortune, and lost control of their image.
“We have no say any more, and Hanna-Barbera doesn’t really care about us. They cater to your every whim if you can make them some coin, but once the money stops coming in, they forget about you! It’s like you’re off the bus” Bingo commented. “And so they just let golden opportunities like this slip past them. This is not the first time it has happened. We’ve been trying for years to get royalties from Bob Marley’s estate, who lifted the chorus melody of Buffalo Soldier directly from our theme song. But Hanna-Barbera just hasn’t bothered. They don’t realize the gold mine they’re sitting on” Bingo lamented. He then hit me in the face with a pie.
So what’s the verdict? Well, the jury is still out on this one, so stick with us here at JYC for full scoop (har har) as this story unfolds. If I see that Ben & Jerry’s is planning a Sour Grape flavor, you will be the first to know.
Note: All images in this post were lifted from various places on the Internet without permission or credit