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|Founded||Burlington, Vermont (1978)|
|Headquarters||South Burlington, Vermont, US|
|Key people||Jostein Solheim (CEO)|
|Founded||Burlington, Vermont (1978)|
|Headquarters||South Burlington, Vermont, US|
|Key people||Jostein Solheim (CEO)|
Ben & Jerry's is an American ice cream company, a division of the Anglo-Dutch Unilever conglomerate, that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream novelty products. These are manufactured by Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Burlington, Vermont, United States, with the main factory in Waterbury, Vermont. It is best known as a premium ice cream brand, founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends. While Jerry finished college, he found himself unable to make his way into medical school. Ben dropped out of college. In 1977 Ben and Jerry completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University's Creamery. Cohen has ageusia and so relied on "mouth feel". This led to the company's trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream. On May 5, 1978, with a $12,000 investment the pair opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont. After two months they closed down after realizing they were not making any profits. In 1979, they marked their anniversary by holding the first-ever free cone day, now an international annual celebration.
In 1980, Ben and Jerry rented space in an old spool and bobbin mill on South Champlain Street in Burlington and began packing their ice cream in pints. In 1981, the first Ben and Jerry's franchise opened on Route 7 in Shelburne, Vermont (where Marco's Pizza is now). In 1983, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was used to build “the world’s largest ice cream sundae” in St. Albans, Vermont; the sundae weighed 27,102 pounds. That same year, the cows on their cartons were redesigned by local artist, Woody Jackson.
In 1984, Häagen-Dazs wanted to limit distribution of Ben & Jerry’s in Boston, prompting Ben & Jerry’s to file suit against the parent company, Pillsbury, in its now famous “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” campaign. In 1987, Häagen-Dazs again tried to enforce exclusive distribution, and Ben & Jerry’s filed its second lawsuit against the Pillsbury Company. In 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was established at the end of the year with a gift from Ben & Jerry's to fund community-oriented projects; it was then provided with 7.5% of the company’s annual pre-tax profits. In 1986, Ben & Jerry’s launched its “Cowmobile”, a modified mobile home used to distribute free scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in a unique, cross-country “marketing drive”—driven and served by Ben and Jerry themselves. The “Cowmobile” burned to the ground outside of Cleveland four months later, but there were no injuries. Ben said it looked like “the world’s largest baked Alaska”.
In 1988, the pair won the title of U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year, awarded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Also that year, the first brownies were ordered from Greyston Bakery, which led to the development of the popular Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor. In 1992, Ben & Jerry’s joined in a co-operative campaign with the national non-profit Children's Defense Fund; the campaign goal was to bring children’s basic needs to the top of the national agenda. Over 70,000 postcards were sent to Congress concerning kids and other national issues. In 1995, they hired Robert Holland, Jr. as CEO after holding an essay contest as part of the search. Holland left after 20 months following philosophical differences and was replaced by Perry Odak in 1997.
In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's sold the company to Anglo-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever. Unilever said it hopes to carry on the tradition of engaging "in these critical, global economic and social missions". Although the founders' names are still attached to the product, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company.
In 2010, Jostein Solheim, a Unilever executive from Norway, became the new CEO of the company and had this to say about the transition: "My mantra that I've repeated a hundred times since starting at Ben & Jerry's is: ‘Change is a wonderful thing,'" he said. "The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business."
In 2001, Ben & Jerry's U.S. completed transition to "Eco-Pint" packaging, which packaged all pint flavors in environmentally friendly unbleached paperboard Eco-Pint containers, a decision it later reversed. The use of brown-kraft unbleached paperboard had been a critical first step toward a totally biodegradable pint made without added chlorine. Due to what they described as increasing supply, quality, and cost challenges, Ben & Jerry's discontinued their use of the Eco-Pint in 2006, transitioning to a pint container made out of a bleached paperboard that it said was more readily available with superior forming characteristics.
On Earth Day in 2005, when a vote in the U.S. Senate proposed the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Ben & Jerry's launched a protest by creating the largest ever Baked Alaska, which weighed 900 pounds, and placed it in front of the U.S. Capitol Building.
In March 2009, "CyClone Dairy" launched an advertising campaign and a website to promote its milk products, which purportedly came exclusively from cloned cows. On April 1, 2009 (April Fool's Day), Ben & Jerry's announced that it was behind this fake company. Ben & Jerry's had created the tongue-in-cheek hoax to raise awareness of the increasing presence of products from cloned animals within American food, and to campaign for a tracking system of cloned-animal products. The hoax was revealed on April Fool's Day with the message: "We believe you should have the right to choose which foods you eat – and not to eat cloned foods if you don’t want to. And that's why Ben & Jerry’s believes we need a national clone tracking system, so people and companies can know where their food is coming from."
On February 24, 2012, Ben & Jerry's released a new Greek Frozen Yogurt line, which comes in eight flavors: Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Vanilla Graham, Raspberry Fudge Chunk, Banana Peanut Butter, and Vanilla (scoop shop exclusive): On April 12, 2013 Pineapple Passionfruit, Vanilla Honey Caramel, and Liz Lemon were added to the Greek Yogurt line.
In 1994, Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop, written by Fred "Chico" Lager, former CEO of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, was published. This book tracks the history of how Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream got started. The book focuses on "How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor." 
Chubby Hubby consists of vanilla malt ice cream swirled with fudge and peanut butter, and containing pretzel nuggets covered in fudge and filled with peanut butter. For the month of September 2009, Ben and Jerry's, in partnership with Freedom to Marry, renamed Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby, in celebration of the legalization of same-sex marriage in the company's home state of Vermont. The carton featured the image of two men getting married beneath a rainbow.
On March 13, 2012, Ben & Jerry’s announced it will be changing the name of one of its ice cream flavors in the UK in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Oh! My! Apple Pie! will become Apple-y Ever After and tubs will feature a gay couple atop a wedding cake decorated with rainbows.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield appeared on the The Colbert Report on March 5, 2007 to promote their new ice cream flavor, Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream, and their grassroots education and advocacy project, TrueMajority.
The company renamed a flavor, Yes Pecan, in reference to Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. They later decided in January 2009 to donate all proceeds made on the sale of that flavor to the Common Cause Education Fund.
The Vermonster is a large ice cream sundae served in a "Vermonster Bucket" in Ben & Jerry's "scoop shops." Its ingredients are 20 scoops of ice cream, 4 bananas, 4 ladles of hot fudge, 3 chocolate chip cookies, 1 chocolate fudge brownie, 10 scoops of walnuts, 2 scoops each of 4 toppings of your choice, and whipped cream. It contains 14,000 calories, and 500 grams of fat. The Vermonster Challenge is an annual charity event held by Ben & Jerry's in which teams of four compete to finish a Vermonster and win free ice cream for a year.
Free Cone Day is an annual event held between late March and early May, in which Ben & Jerry's scoop shops give out free ice cream cups and cones. The most recent event took place on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 from noon to 8 p.m. The first Free Cone Day was held on Saturday, May 5, 1979 by Ben and Jerry as a customer and staff appreciation event for the first anniversary of their store's opening.
Over one million free cones are given away each year, prompting the company's ad slogan "Be One In A Million." Charitable organizations are often present at the stores each year and enjoy a significant amount of fundraising success. Often, local celebrities show up at various stores, promoting the day and the charities there. Sometimes the event is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day and sometimes volunteers are on hand with clipboards and voter registration forms to help those who would like to register to vote.
The Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory has an ice cream graveyard on site, where the graves of past ice cream flavors exist. Favorite flavors can be resurrected from their grave to be brought back into stores. Customers can request the return of a favorite flavor by filling out a form on the website.
Ben & Jerry's was the first brand-name ice cream to be taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle.The second one was Tesco's value brand ice cream. Most of the cruise ships of the Royal Caribbean International have a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop on board.
Rumors have suggested that Ben & Jerry's supported the defense of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1982 of killing Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner. Despite several appeals, Abu-Jamal's conviction has been upheld. As a result of this alleged support, e-mails claimed that the Fraternal Order of Police called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry's products. The Ben & Jerry's website denies that the company has had any connection with the case; it adds that Cohen did sign a petition as a private citizen asking that "the system of American justice be followed fully in the case."
The company raised controversy in 2006 after releasing a flavor of ice cream called "Black and Tan." It had named the flavor after the alcoholic drink made by mixing stout with pale ale. The controversy stemmed from the fact that Black and Tans was also a name given to the militia paramilitary police force of British World War I veterans recruited during the Irish Revolution who to this day still rankle Irish nationalist sentiment.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-advocacy group, had urged Ben & Jerry's to stop labeling their ice cream as "all natural" due to the company's use of corn syrup, alkalised cocoa, and other chemically modified ingredients. In September 2010, the company agreed to stop labeling their ice cream and frozen yogurt as "all natural."
In 2011, Ben & Jerry's released a flavor named Schweddy Balls, in homage to the Saturday Night Live skit of the same name. The American Family Association protested, saying that the name was too explicit for grocery store shelves. Actor Alec Baldwin, who appeared in the SNL skit as baker Pete Schweddy, hosted the September 24, 2011, episode of the show and mentioned the AFA's outcry in his introduction: "[...] but one sketch people always ask me about is Pete Schweddy and his famous Schweddy Balls. And now Schweddy Balls is its own Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. Now, true story, true story, there is a family organization that is angry about the name because they think it is inappropriate for the grocery store aisle. Well if you don't like Schweddy Balls, Ben & Jerry's has a new ice cream flavor just for you; it's called Go Fudge Yourself."
In 2012, a Ben & Jerry's franchise near the Harvard University campus created a scoop-shop-only flavor made to order, named "Taste the Lin-Sanity" in honor of Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin, a Harvard alumnus. It contained lychee honey swirls and fortune cookie pieces, but after initial backlash, Ben & Jerry's replaced the fortune cookies with waffle cookies. The franchisee said that the primary reason was because the fortune cookies got soggy. The operator of the scoop shop later apologized to anyone offended by their Lin-Sanity flavor. Ben & Jerry's corporation never intended to mass-produce or distribute the flavor
Ben and Jerry's has locations around the world.
Ben & Jerry's used to have a policy that no employee's rate of pay shall exceed five times that of entry-level employees. In 1995, entry-level employees were paid $8 hourly, and the highest paid employee was President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Lacy, who earned $150,000 annually. When Ben Cohen resigned as Chief Executive Officer and Ben & Jerry's announced the search for a new CEO in 1995, the company ended the five-to-one-ratio policy.
Ben & Jerry's employees are offered several perks, including up to three pints a day of the company's ice cream for free.
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