Back around 1980 a friend and I were enroute to Montreal and we decided to spend the night in Burlington, VT. Just in case you have never been there Burlington is a great college town and the home of the University of Vermont. The city would remind you a lot of Madison, WI. In any event, my buddy and I stepped out for some chow and after dinner we took a stroll around the city. It was a fairly warm evening and soon we happened upon a tiny ice cream shop with a long line of people waiting to be served. We wondered what all the fuss was about and so we joined the line. What we had stumbled upon was the original Ben & Jerry's store.
Lots of magazine articles and a number of books have been written that tell the story about a how a pair of young entrepreneuers named Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started an ice cream company that within just a few short years would become a nationwide sensation. And what's more, Ben and Jerry did it all their way. They revolutionized the ice cream business by creating bizarre new flavors with far-out names. When they began Ben & Jerry's offered about a dozen flavors lovingly made with an old fashioned rock salt ice cream maker and locally produced milk and cream. Dastardly Mash, Heath Bar Crunch and Chunky Monkey were among the very first flavors offered at Ben & Jerry's. Word spread like wildfire about this fabulous ice cream and before long Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were selling their product to restaurants all over Northern Vermont.
Then in 1981 an article in Time magazine proclaimed Ben & Jerry's to be "the best ice cream in the world." Shortly thereafter Cohen and Greenfield built a state of the art ice cream plant in Waterbury, VT. and signed a national distribution deal. Before long Ben & Jerry's would become one of the most recognized brand names in the country.
As the company took off and the profits rolled in Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided that they were going to run their company a whole lot differently than most. They dubbed their approach "Caring Capitalism". For one thing they created a company that was a lot of fun to work for and adopted environmentally friendly production policies. Employees were well compensated and were the recipients of a generous benefit package that included profit-sharing programs, free health club memberships, day-care service and college tuition aid. In addition, for many years Ben & Jerry's has donated 7.5% of its annual pre-tax profits to charitable causes--the highest percentage of any publicly held company. In 1988 Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were recognized as the U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year and were presented an award by President Reagan.
Ben & Jerry's was acquired by Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch corporation, for $326 million in 2000. Under the terms of the agreement, the company continues to operate separately from Unilever's existing U.S. ice cream business, with an independent Board of Directors to provide leadership for its social mission and brand integrity. The product remains of the highest quality and a trip to your local Ben & Jerry's remains a fun experience. As always, Ben & Jerry's continues to add unique new flavors to its menu. The latest is a concoction called Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie (named after a champion snowboarder) that is described as "maple ice cream with blonde brownie pieces and a maple caramel swirl." Being a born and bred New Englander who loves anything maple I will be all over that one. All in all, Ben & Jerry's is a simply a great American success story. Very highly recommended!
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Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. produces super premium ice cream, frozen yogurt, and ice cream novelties in rich and original flavors. The company sells its unique offerings in grocery stores, restaurants, and franchised ice cream shops, and it holds about one-third of the market for its products. Started by two friends who never intended to become big businessmen, Ben & Jerry's is distinguished by a corporate philosophy that stresses social action and liberal ideals in addition to profit making, and is known for innovative and creative marketing devices that express this unorthodox spirit.
Ben & Jerry's was founded in May 1978, when Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. Cohen had been teaching crafts, and Greenfield had been working as a lab technician when the two decided that 'we wanted to do something that would be more fun,' as Greenfield later told People magazine. In addition, the two wanted to live in a small college town. In 1977, they moved to Burlington, Vermont, and completed a five dollar correspondence course in ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University. With $12,000 in start-up money, a third of which they borrowed, the two renovated an old gas station on a corner in downtown Burlington and opened Ben & Jerry's Homemade.
The first Ben & Jerry's store sold 12 flavors, made with an old fashioned rock salt ice cream maker and locally produced milk ...