Today, we visited hallowed Vermont ground – the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Waterbury. We use the term “hallowed” because not many companies have brought so much pride to the state. Since the first store was opened by New Yorkers Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the company has consistently given back to its neighbors, even going so far as to allow only the citizens of Vermont to buy shares in their initial public offering in the 1980s.
Few can argue with Ben and Jerry’s success. They’re immensely profitable, their ice cream is sold worldwide and their brand is one of the most admired. But what sets Ben and Jerry’s apart from other companies is their commitment to being good corporate citizens. From their inception in 1977 in a tiny, converted gas station, they had two things in mind – having fun and doing good. Today, the company remains committed to that mission by investing heavily in local farms and aggressively promoting Fair Trade practices.
The tour consisted of three sections, beginning with a short humorous film outlining the company’s founding and philosophy. The film provided a nice overview, and like all good pre-tour movies, established the baseline for the other two sections.
The second part of the tour focused on the production line. The company holds this process close to the vest so no photos were allowed. Truth is, we didn’t see anything that was devastatingly innovative so we don’t really know what all the secrecy is about.
The final stage of the tour, the most important of course, is the sampling. Today we each got a scoop of mint chocolate cookie. Of course, as expected, it only whet our appetite for the $9.50 worth of ice cream outside – a delicious trick. These guys are good.
Outside, I tried Cherry Garcia for the first time (where have I been, right?) and Victoria checked out the Jimmy Fallon inspired Late Night Snack. We all know what is in Cherry Garcia but Late Night Snack was a strange but delicious merger of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Salty Caramel Swirl and Fudge Covered Potato Chip Clusters. Oh…. Soooooo… gooood.
Ben and Jerry’s gives tours every day the factory is open at $3 per adult. They also have packages combining tour ticket, tour t-shirt and a coupon for a pint of ice cream for $30.
Hot tip: When you get there for the tour, check in using FourSquare on your smart phone and get your tour for free. You’re welcome!!!