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The History of the Ben & Jerry’s Nike SB Dunk Low

The Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low “Chunky Dunky” turned heads and defied conventional rationale. So, why would Nike release an athletic shoe in conjunction with an ice cream company?

To understand the logic of such a sensational sneaker, one must go back to the root of the model used for the collaboration: the Nike SB Dunk.

Nike SB Dunk Low Supa
Nike SB Dunk Low “Supa.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

First released in 2002, the Nike SB Dunk revived the brand’s basketball-born Dunk silhouette with retooled technical specifics designed for skateboarding. The Nike Dunk, designed by Peter Moore and brought out during the 1985-86 NCAA basketball season, was originally intended to bring color and identity to the team sport of college hoops. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, the now nostalgic model had crossed over to lifestyle wear, gaining traction as a casual staple.

Much like the iconic Air Jordan 1, the Dunk’s bold look and low profile comfort made it instantly palatable for the sport of skateboarding. Seeing an opportunity, Nike Skateboarding, better known as Nike SB, rebranded the basketball shoe for skate, updating the court classic with fluffy tongue padding and responsive Zoom Air cushioning.

Early on, the Nike SB Dunk came to prominence by collaborating with boutique brands such as Supreme, and was introduced in iterations inspired by the brand’s team of riders including Reese Forbes and Danny Supa. Soon, the Nike SB Dunk Low and High hit stores and feet in colors far removed from its basketball origins, such as off-kilter makeups made from distressed denim or buttery wheat suede.

Supreme Nike SB Dunk Low
Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

By the mid-2000s, the Nike SB Dunk found its footing through a staple of skateboarding culture: irreverence. Playing to the sport’s love of humor, irony and brash style, the Nike SB Dunk donned new themes tied to horror movie characters such as Freddie Kruger and hip-hop artists De La Soul and MF Doom. No collaborator or theme — including bottled beer, vomit, guitar cases or Tokyo taxis — was off limits. In fact, the more unexpected, the better.

Ben & Jerry's Nike SB Dunk Low Chunky Dunky
Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low “Chunky Dunky.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

This proved true in 2020, when the Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low launched to inordinate fanfare. Following a building buzz and retail resurgence for the Nike Dunk in both sportswear and SB form, the Nike SB Dunk Low perhaps peaked in popularity and head-turning ability through the Vermont ice cream company’s “Chunky Monkey” flavor.

Baring blue sky styling inspired by Ben & Jerry’s famed packaging for their ice cream pints, the “Chunky Dunky” nickname played on the title of the reborn basketball shoe and the desert company’s popular “Chunky Monkey” flavor. Cow-print panelling, tie-dye lining and dripping Swooshes all relayed the frozen favorite on the co-branded kicks.

Ben & Jerry's Nike SB Dunk Low Chunky Dunky
Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low “Chunky Dunky.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

In May 2020, the Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low “Chunky Dunky” dropped in extremely limited fashion. Friends-and-family pairs came packaged in thematic boxes shaped like giant ice cream pints, adding even more excitement to this sensational collaboration. Because of its eye-catching design and hard-to-get status, pairs of the “Chunky Dunky” typically sell for more than $1,000 and fetch almost double when sold in the friends-and-family packaging.

Full of flavor and rich in cache, the Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low might not make sense to many, but that’s always been the point at Nike SB.

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