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11 Things You Didn't Know About Ben & Jerry's

11 Things You Didn't Know About Ben & Jerry's

We all know Ben & Jerry’s. And to know Ben & Jerry’s is to love Ben & Jerry’s. The chunky, super-creamy ice cream isn’t just a childhood staple, it’s an adult indulgence, too, and just about everyone has their favorite flavors, be it Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia. But did you know that ice cream wasn’t what Ben and Jerry planned to sell when they first hung out their shingle? And that the chunks are there for a really interesting reason?

11 Things You Didn't Know About Ben & Jerry's (Slideshow)

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were two New York City–born childhood friends who were a bit aimless in their early lives. Jerry graduated college and couldn’t get into medical school; Ben dropped out of college. To make a long story short, they decided to go into business together, and after securing a $12,000 investment, they opened the first outpost of Ben and Jerry’s in downtown Burlington, Vermont. That was May 5, 1978. Two years later they started selling their ice cream in pints, the following year the first franchise opened, and the rest, as they say, is ice cream history.

When Ben and Jerry’s hit the scene, their product was unlike anything people had tried before. The “super premium” category of ice cream didn’t exist yet, and the ice cream that was sold in supermarkets was the airy, fluffy variety that you still find under brand names like Edy’s and Breyers. Try Breyers versus Ben & Jerry’s in a side-by-side comparison and it’ll be clear that there’s a big difference: the other brand is mostly air, whereas Ben & Jerry’s is much denser, richer, and chunkier, and that’s before you even get into the wildly creative and inventive flavors.

But there’s a lot more to Ben & Jerry’s than what you find in the pint container. Their origin story is a fascinating one filled with ups and downs, and over the years they’ve sparked firestorms of controversy, scared the pants off of the competition, and have led the vanguard in socially and environmentally conscious food brands. So read on to learn a whole lot of cool things about the world’s coolest ice cream company.

Ice Cream Wasn’t Their First Choice


Being from New York, Cohen and Greenfield’s first impulse was to open a bagel shop. The necessary equipment was too expensive, however, so they settled on less-expensive ice cream instead.

They Learned to Make Ice Cream from a Correspondence Course


The duo got all the training they needed from a $5 correspondence course from Penn State.

Click here for 9 more things you didn't know about Ben & Jerry's.


Things you didn't know about Ben & Jerry's

We all know Ben & Jerry’s. And to know Ben & Jerry’s is to love Ben & Jerry’s. The chunky, super-creamy ice cream isn’t just a childhood staple, it’s an adult indulgence, too, and just about everyone has their favorite flavors, be it Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia. But did you know that ice cream wasn’t what Ben and Jerry planned to sell when they first hung out their shingle? And that the chunks are there for a really interesting reason?

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were two New York City–born childhood friends who were a bit aimless in their early lives. Jerry graduated college and couldn’t get into medical school Ben dropped out of college. To make a long story short, they decided to go into business together, and after securing a $12,000 investment, they opened the first outpost of Ben and Jerry’s in downtown Burlington, Vermont. That was May 5, 1978. Two years later they started selling their ice cream in pints, the following year the first franchise opened, and the rest, as they say, is ice cream history.

When Ben and Jerry’s hit the scene, their product was unlike anything people had tried before. The “super premium” category of ice cream didn’t exist yet, and the ice cream that was sold in supermarkets was the airy, fluffy variety that you still find under brand names like Edy’s and Breyers. Try Breyers versus Ben & Jerry’s in a side-by-side comparison and it’ll be clear that there’s a big difference: the other brand is mostly air, whereas Ben & Jerry’s is much denser, richer, and chunkier, and that’s before you even get into the wildly creative and inventive flavors.

But there’s a lot more to Ben & Jerry’s than what you find in the pint container. Their origin story is a fascinating one filled with ups and downs, and over the years they’ve sparked firestorms of controversy, scared the pants off of the competition, and have led the vanguard in socially and environmentally conscious food brands. So read on to learn a whole lot of cool things about the world’s coolest ice cream company.


14 Things You Didn't Know About Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's: great for gorging, even greater for weird kitchen experiments. The eponymous hippies from Vermont have been spreading joy, one scoop at a time, for 36 years, but do you really know your benevolent Phish Food creators inside and out? Probably not. But don't worry, because you can read up on all the burning Cowmobiles and Doughboy fights fit to print below.

1. It all started with an old gas station and a $5 class
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened the very first Ben & Jerry's in Burlington, Vermont in 1978. Their shop was a renovated gas station, and their knowledge was based on a $5 correspondence course in ice cream from Penn State (which is kinda famous for its creamery). Unlike most gas-station births, this one was beautiful.

2. The company almost had a whimsical name
The pair decided early on that "Jerry & Ben's" sounded awkward, but apparently Ben had some far-out suggestions for the company name that Jerry shot down, including "Josephine's Flying Machine". (Not pictured: Josephine.)

3. Free Cone Day has been around basically since the beginning
The annual holiday, wherein Ben & Jerry invite you to enjoy your favorite scoop free of charge, was started on the company's first anniversary as a thank you to the fans that kept them in business. It's been running every year since, making it easily the best thing spawned in 1979. (Sorry, Trivial Pursuit.)

4. They built a mountain of ice cream in the '80s
In an attempt to build the "world's largest ice cream sundae", Ben & Jerry's constructed a 27,102lb monster in St. Albans, Vermont in 1983. St. Albans is probably still purging its streets of residual chocolate syrup, while the massive cherry remains at large.

5. Häagen-Dazs tried to shut them down
By 1984, Ben & Jerry's was a thriving small business, and they were seriously pissing off a major competitor. In an attempt to squash David, ice cream Goliath Häagen-Dazs got its parent company Pillsbury to bully distributors into not carrying Ben & Jerry's pints. The little guys obviously sued, but knowing they would run out of money in a legal fight, they also mounted a "What's the Doughboy Afraid Of?" campaign to get the public on their side. It worked, and the Doughboy refocused his energy on getting Moms to poke his stomach.

6. Their first truck was the "Cowmobile"
To get the word out nationwide, Ben & Jerry's packed up their stuff and hit the road on a 1986 cross-country tour aboard the "Cowmobile", a modified mobile home. Unfortunately, it caught fire and burned to the ground in Cleveland. Ohio must be Breyers country.

7. The big chunks are there for an unusual reason
When they were developing their flavors, Ben insisted on having massive chunks in their ice creams, and it wasn't just because he's a generous man. The guy has anosmia, which means he can't detect different smells. But he's subsequently very attuned to mouthfeel, and believed the craters of cookie dough and cherries set their ice cream apart. Turns out he was onto something.


There is an actual Flavour Graveyard at the Factory in Waterbury, Vermont where we lay our discontinued flavours to rest. There are over 300 flavours that have been sent to the graveyard. Once in a while, when the moon is full, a flavour is "rein-cone-ated," and brought back from the grave for a limited time. It's eerily delicious.


QUIZ: What Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Are You?

We know you&rsquove been wondering &ndash what Ben & Jerry&rsquos flavor matches your innermost self? Which mélange of scrumptious sweetness best describes the uniqueness that is you? Lucky for you, our experts can discern exactly which flavor camp you fall into &ndash and what it says about you.

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Seasoned and reliable, you are a classic through and through. You know what you like and don&rsquot need to experiment too much. Everything you do is tried-and-true and the way that works best for you. Except when a new Ben & Jerry&rsquos flavor comes out, then you&rsquore ready to dive into something new!

A music lover at heart, you roll through your days to the beat of your own drummer. Wherever life takes you, you have a tune ready for the journey. You love to learn and are a great listener. After all, you need fodder for your kick-ass lyrics!

You love to pitch in and make a difference! Friends come to you for helpful advice, and you&rsquore always ready to lend an ear. You&rsquore a problem-solver, always ready to brainstorm ideas and make them come to life at a moment&rsquos notice. Case in point: when a friend&rsquos fudge levels are dangerously low, you&rsquore there with a pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie, stat!

You&rsquore always on the move or ready for action. Your friends know that they can count on you for a burst of energy whenever they&rsquore feeling down. You are your own motivational speaker, ready to inject some pep whenever needed. So don&rsquot forget to slow down once in a while and enjoy some much-deserved couch time with a pint of the flavor that matches you best.

You are an artist, a dreamer, a watcher of life. When you&rsquore not gobbling up media and culture and putting your own unique twist on the world around you, you&rsquore marveling at the wonders of human artistry. Like how the Ben & Jerry&rsquos Flavor Gurus can create such utterly perfect flavor combinations. Chocolate and caramel and cookie and peanut butter &ndash genius!

You&rsquore a lover of people. Keeping up with friends, telling stories, and getting to know new folks are some of your favorite things. People fascinate you &ndash their relationships, their personalities, the ways that they navigate their world. You&rsquore a watcher and a listener, ready to offer up advice at any moment. And your infinite wisdom tells you that sometimes a bowl of Ben & Jerry&rsquos is the most helpful thing you can offer.


14 Things You Might Not Know About Ben & Jerry's

Last month, I went on a press trip to Ben & Jerry's in Vermont for two days of activities like hanging out with the staff at the company headquarters in South Burlington, creating a new flavor with the flavor gurus, visiting the St Albans dairy co-op, touring the factory in Waterbury, sampling the new Cores, and snowshoeing. Then, a storm hit, and I was stuck in a magical winter wonderland for two extra days with nothing to do but tromp around in snowshoes, look out at snow blanketed mountains, and eat apple cider doughnuts from MLC Bakeshop. It was glorious.

Between ice cream feedings, I learned a lot about Ben & Jerry's, from fun facts (there's a slide in the office!) to how seriously the company is committed to their social mission. Scroll down to read them all.

1: At the company HQ in South Burlington, Vermont, all of the interior walls are curvy (because right angles are too square, man). There's also a mock scoop shop called Scoop U that's used for franchisee training, and everything from shakes to sundaes is only $1. Near the front entrance, you can get from the upper to lower levels on a slide. The office is also dog friendly, meaning there's a cute pup every 50 feet or so (Hi, Quimby!).

2: Ben & Jerry's employees get three free pints per day, every day. On a related note, they also get a free gym membership (and there is a work-out area at the office).

3: The flavor graveyard at the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury only has a fraction of the hundreds of flavors that have been retired in the company's history. Many others aren't officially declared "dead" because they may be reformulated and reintroduced. Others, like White Russian, have been resurrected (it's currently available in scoop shops). The "deceased" pints aren't actually buried in the graveyard, it's just headstones.

4: The factory in Waterbury produces 120,000 pints a day, one flavor at a time.

5: If you take a tour of the factory, you'll get to try a flavor that's currently in the testing/development stage. For me, it was At the ChocoBanana, banana-cinnamon ice cream with brown sugar caramel swirls and milk chocolate chunks. It tasted like banana bread batter (and it was delicious).

6: The cow seen on Ben & Jerry's packages (and this van) is named Woody, after Woody Jackson, the artist who designed him in 1983.

7: Ben & Jerry's has a team of "flavor gurus" who create all of their flavors. Gurus go on "trend trek" trips every year, where they eat their way through cities by ordering EVERY dessert at local restaurants to uncover new food trends and flavors. Yeah, that's what you'd call a dream job.

8: Unilever became the majority share-holder in 2000, but Ben & Jerry's maintains their own board of directors who are responsible for ensuring that the company sticks to its core values and three-part mission. The company also employs a full-time Activist Manager, Chris Miller, whose background includes five years directing Greenpeace's climate change campaign (he's a badass, in the best possible definition of the word).

9: The new Cores (see our review here) are the first line-up of Ben & Jerry's ice cream to be both fair trade and non-GMO. The company is committed to transitioning all of its products to non-GMO and fair trade by the end of the year.

10: Last December, Half Baked became the top selling flavor, knocking Cherry Garcia from the throne for the first time in its history.

11: Based on customer feedback, a new formulation of Cherry Garcia (with more cherries) will be headed to grocery store shelves soon.

12: Certain retailers carry exclusive flavors, including Target (Peanut Butter World, Peanut Butter Jam Session, Rockin' Blondies, and Volun-Tiramisu), Walgreens (Truffle Trifecta), 7-Eleven (Nutty Caramel Swirl), and Walmart (Mississippi Mud Pie: January-April, Cotton Candy: May-September).

13: These days, Ben and Jerry say they have no authority or official responsibilities at the company. They are focusing their efforts on Stamp Stampede, an initiative that raises awareness of money's influence on the electoral process. The ultimate goal is to overturn Citizen's United.

14: Ben says he typically stands at Jerry's right side when they get photographed so that if you're looking at the photo from left to right, you see them in the right order. If you're ever unsure which one is which, I like Stephen Colbert's memory trick: "Jerry is hairy" (skip to 2:28 in the video).

Want more of the sweet stuff? Follow us on Twitter @SeriousSweets


11 Sweet Things To Know About Ben & Jerry's

Over the years Ben and Jerry's ice cream has fueled countless birthday parties, sleepovers, picnics, and virtually all summer activities. But the iconic brand behind punny pints like Cherry Garcia and Karamel Sutra has more to dish out than scoops. Here’s what you should know about Ben, Jerry, and scoop shops worldwide.

Video Transcript

We Ranked Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Flavors And Our Favorites Might Surprise You

The iconic Ben & Jerry's flavor known as Cherry Garcia was actually made because of an anonymous customer suggestion about making a flavor in honor of Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. Jane Williamson was eventually credited for the original anonymous suggestion and the mix of cherry ice cream, whole cherries, and fudge flakes is available in grocery stores everywhere. Americone Dream, the Stephen Colbert-inspired flavor, includes fudge-covered waffle cones for crunch and caramel swirl for richness all in vanilla ice cream.


On April 18, the year 2000, shops all over the world celebrated free cone day together for the first time. Presumably, this means it was the first time it was celebrated outside the English-speaking world? We’re not too sure, so you’d just have to take their word for it.

The first ever free cone day in Singapore was held on 17 April, 2007. That was a whole 7 years since the first global free cone day, so what’s up with that? We’re not too sure ourselves, but at least we get to enjoy some free ice cream every year now!


Latest Updates

24 May 2021

When our co-founders started churning up delicious ice cream way back in 1978, their quirky chunks and swirls made it the talk of the town. Take the quiz to find out if you&rsquore a total Ben or a perfect Jerry!

14 May 2021

Need a few good reasons to justify getting ice cream delivered? We&rsquove got 10 seriously real reasons why you should treat yo&rsquo self.

12 May 2021

You know your favourite Ben & Jerry's flavour, but do you know all about the fun, quirky, and interesting tidits from Ben & Jerry's history? Take our quiz to see if you're a super fan!

28 April 2021

Cookie Dough Chunks unleashed! These are our favourite ways to make the most of our 3 Cookie Dough Chunks flavours.

23 April 2021

With so many Ben & Jerry&rsquos flavours full of cookie dough, it can be hard to make a decision. Take our quiz, and we&rsquoll tell you what your ultimate dough flavour is!

20 April 2021

2021 is shaping up to become the most important year ever in our struggle to contain the climate crisis. As global temperatures keep rising, it&rsquos up to us to come together and take action. Now.

8 April 2021

Tub containers are so much more than ice cream holders! After all the ice cream&rsquos gone, give them a rinse and get creative.

31 March 2021

Perfection schmerfection. We&rsquove had our fair share of gaffes over the years, and luckily we can still laugh at them.

22 March 2021

This is it: the best vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. We know our way around a chocolate chip cookie, and we really nailed this vegan version.

22 March 2021

Ever since we first mixed cookie dough into vanilla ice cream, we haven&rsquot been able to get enough cookie dough. These recipes are helping, though.

22 March 2021

Soft, sweet, and guaranteed to please even the pickiest of cookie dough lovers. Whip up a batch of pure vegan perfection and don&rsquot be surprised when they don&rsquot last long!

22 March 2021

Like chips and dip, but for dessert! Dip holiday cookies, pretzels, graham crackers, and more in this euphoric cookie dough dessert dip.

22 March 2021

Your dinner guests may get a trifle excited over these individual-sized desserts layered with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, brownies and crumbled cookies.

15 March 2021

Ever wondered what Ben & Jerry&rsquos flavor matches your beer-drinking style? Sure, you have! Take our quiz and we&rsquoll tell you which flavor you should eat!

8 March 2021

Is Cookie Dough your favourite flavour? We&rsquore betting it&rsquos at least in your top 5. Check out the epic story of how it rose to ice cream flavour fame.

2 March 2021

If you haven't tried Half Baked, then you simply haven't lived! And if you have, then how much do you know about this heroic flavour?!

1 March 2021

Introducing Pauline, one of our Fairtrade Farmers

24 February 2021

Do you call yourself a feminist? We&rsquore here to talk about two F-words today: feminism and Fairtrade, and how you can be one and support the other.

12 February 2021

Who should you give your heart to this Valentine&rsquos Day? Your true love, or your favourite tub of Ben & Jerry&rsquos? Take the quiz to find out.

4 February 2021

Ever wonder what your ice cream love language is? We&rsquove got the list right here!

1 February 2021

Ever since an anonymous fan suggested that we put cookie dough in our ice cream way back in 1984, we've been hooked! Now you can find our euphoric cookie dough in all kinds of tubs from our classics and dough -packed Twists to vegan Non-Dairy and lighter Moo-phoria flavours.

28 January 2021

A vegan shake for the peanut butter lover. Creamy and nutty, it's the pick-me-up you didn't know your afternoon needed.

26 January 2021

They&rsquore cool and refreshing, and totally customizable! Dress yours up with nuts, fruit, and all the fancy drizzles you can handle.

19 January 2021

What&rsquos even better than strawberry shortcake? Vegan Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake! These shortcakes are a snap to make and will be a hit with the whole crew.

14 January 2021

A vegan dessert masterpiece! All your favorite ingredients, piled high in perfect vegan harmony.


1. Ben Affleck or Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt

Most people will immediately recognize the name Ben Affleck, but what about Benjamin Géza Affleck-Boldt? That is in fact Ben Affleck’s full name. His father is Timothy Byers Affleck and his mother’s name before marriage was Christopher “Chris” Anne Boldt. Ben’s parents combined and hyphenated their last names to give Ben his and was given the middle name Géza after a Hungarian friend of his parents who had survived the Holocaust. A lovely tribute indeed now carried on by a very famous man.