From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places with names we sometimes mispronounce, what began over 30 years ago with 2 guys creating otherworldly ice cream flavors has turned into a tastebud-boggling odyssey of Ben & Jerry's desserts served around the world. As for the 2 guys who started it all, their story starts way before that: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield grew up in Merrick, Long Island. They first met in junior high school, where they struck up a lasting friendship. Jerry finished college but couldn’t get into any med schools; Ben got into several colleges but dropped out of every one of them. They realized they weren't getting anywhere doing what they were doing. But they knew they had to do something, so they decided to start their own food business. Neither of them knew anything about starting a business. But they knew a lot about eating – especially ice cream – so it made sense (to them, anyway) to open an ice cream shop. Soooo, after splitting the cost of a $5 correspondence course on ice cream-making from Penn State University, they combined their $8000 life savings with a $4000 bank loan, leased an old gas station building in Burlington, Vermont, and opened for business on May 5, 1978. Using an old-fashioned ice cream freezer, they began churning out all the rich & creamy, fun & chunky ice cream flavors they’d always dreamed about, flavors loaded with all their favorite chunks of fruits, nuts, candies, and cookies. Soon there were long lines stretching out the door of the old gas station, as more and more folks clamored for a taste of Ben & Jerry's flavor creations. Their ice cream was such a hit, it wasn’t long before they began selling it to local restaurants, then grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Vermont and beyond. Way beyond
Back in '66, in a school gym class, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield found they hated running but loved food. Years later in '78, Ben had been fired from a series of jobs while Jerry had failed for the second time to get into medical school. So, since eating was their great passion, armed with a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making, they opened their first scoop shop in a dilapidated gas station in Burlington, Vermont.
They soon became popular in the local community for the finest ice cream made from fresh Vermont milk and cream. Ben didn't have the best sense of taste so he relied on what he called 'mouth feel', so big chunks of chocolate, fruit and nut became their signature. While they disagreed at times over the chunk size, they did agree that they wanted to enjoy themselves - as Jerry put it 'if it's not fun, why do it?'.
In the early days the boys were pretty bad at book-keeping. After two months they closed the store and hung a sign that said 'we're closed to figure out whether we're making any money'. And they weren't. But they learned a lot and by 1979, began wholesaling pints of ice cream out of Ben's VW campervan. Mission
Ben & Jerry's Mission Statement
At Ben & Jerry’s we're all about making the best possible ice cream in the nicest possible way. Our business is founded on and dedicated to a sustainable corporate concept of linked prosperity demonstrated in our 3 part mission statement. Our Social Mission: To operate the Company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally. Our Product Mission: To make, distribute and sell the finest quality ice cream and euphoric concoctions with a continued commitment to incorporating wholesome, natural ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the Earth and the Environment. Our Economic Mission: To operate the Company on a sustainable financial basis of profitable growth, increasing value for our stakeholders and expanding opportunities for development and career growth for our employees....