The Origins of Ben and Jerry's
By Laura Lee - December 28, 2021

Ben and Jerry’s is a popular brand of ice cream that has been around since 1978. Although it is now owned by Unilever, the company is still known for its socially conscious business methods. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield both attended Oberlin College during the 1960s where they first met as roommates in their house on Fayerweather Street. They originally planned to become doctors, but after attending an ice cream-making course in Vermont during their fourth year of school, the two decided to go into business for themselves.┬áIn 1981, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was first sold at a retail store. In the early days of operation, Ben and Jerry worked from a converted gas station in Burlington, VT which they named “Ben & Jerry’s Homemade.” The company grew slowly over time until the 1980’s when the Americone Dream flavor was introduced.

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The Americone Dream ice cream is made with pieces of chocolate-covered waffle, caramel swirls, fudge flakes, and peanut butter cups. It proved to be very popular among the customers of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade and sales rapidly increased during its time on the shelf. The company had more flavors than ever before and quickly added new products like ice cream bars and pizza to their menu. By the end of the decade, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade was sold in stores across all 50 states and people were clamoring for more flavors. The demand for these new varieties also exploded. By 1988, Ben and Jerry’s had made over twenty different kinds of ice cream flavors including Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and New York Super Fudge Chunk. In the following years, the company opened up several more stores in various parts of the United States. These retail locations are still functioning to this day where people can buy pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or take a tour by learning how it is made.

Since the company was purchased by Unilever in 2000, Ben and Jerry’s has been given more resources to work with such as additional funding and extra manpower. Despite this, they still try to make a difference through their products. For example, the ice cream company has come out with several flavors that support environmental causes such as Save Our Swirled, which features marshmallow ice cream with raspberry swirls. As of right now, the company is still run by Greenfield and Cohen who have helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for various charities since they started Ben & Jerry’s Homemade. All of these proceeds come from the sales through their stores or online. Every year, they hold an event that is called the “Free Cone Day” where they give out free cones to anyone who comes by the store. Ben Cohen is still active with his own business called Ben & Jerry’s Homemade where he makes products with a similar method as his former partner Jerry Greenfield.