The Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Pint Lock is a simple enough product – a locking mechanism for a standard pint of ice cream. But along with its functionality comes a measure of social performance that’s worth a brief closer look.
The idea is humorous (one side of the lock has the slogan “I’m terribly sorry, but there’s no ‘u’ in ‘my pint'”) – but in that humor is a gentle reminder to everyone that Ben & Jerry’s is precious stuff, worth protecting.
As far as security goes (the ice cream is in cardboard, after all), I’m reminded of what a research participant told me once. When walking around the perimeter of his fast-food franchise, he said “A lock only stops an honest person.” His point was that any security can be broken with some amount of force, and the role of the lock is to make it clear that you aren’t welcome. Social norms keep most of us from bypassing that lock. So while we might pop open the ice cream and take a spoonful or two of our coworker or roommate or partner’s Chunky Monkey, we’re probably not going to cut through the package and make it obvious. So while this lock won’t stop a ravenous freezer rodent, it will protect your ice cream from most of your regular dessert-craving cohabitants.
It’s great design in that it considers the functionality in its cultural context. If they built this by spec-sheet (as one might with a bike lock, say) they would miss the point entirely.