A new variety of Russian ice cream is highlighting the rather chilly relations between the U.S. and the former Soviet nation. The chocolate-covered ice cream bars are called “Obamka,” Reuters reports, with a wrapper that “features an image of a smiling young African boy, wearing an ear ring and holding an ice cream.”
The -ka suffix in Russian is used to designate something as small, so the name translates to “Little Obama.” As RT notes, “The form is mostly used to express affection, although sometimes it can be used as a type of scorn.” The manufacturer, Slavitsa, denies any political motivation behind its new ice cream novelty, but an unnamed U.S. official tells Reuters, “While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent.”
With relations at a post-Cold War low since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in Syria, Russian state media and pro-Kremlin activists have often berated and mocked President Barack Obama in terms that U.S. officials have described as racist and insulting.
“With different flavors and glazes, the ice cream symbolizes the main races of people on our planet,” it said, adding that the picture of the boy had been inspired by a Soviet film. Ice cream names need to be memorable. For those with a rich imagination, various associations might arise, but this product is for children and is a long way from politics.”
A U.S. official, who declined to be named because of the subject’s sensitivity, told Reuters he saw the ice cream as part of a disturbing pattern: “While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti-Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent,” the official said.
Slavitsa is based in Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian city that hit the headlines last month after a cafe dedicated to Vladimir Putin opened there, luring visitors with dozens of pictures of the Russian president. The cafe features Obama’s face on toilet paper in its restrooms, while toilet mats bear the colors of the U.S. flag.
This is the second time a President/presidential candidate is portrayed in an Ice cream package, as we remember from Bernie Sanders’ Ben&Jerry flavor a while back.