Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
Ben and Jerry's ice cream
is a brand
of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and novelty
products, manufactured by Ben & Jerry's Homemade
ice cream, Inc., headquartered in South Burlington,
Childhood friends Ben Cohen
and Jerry Greenfield took a correspondence course in ice
cream-making from Penn State University-- Agriculture
5150-- and founded the company in 1978 in a renovated gas
station in Burlington, Vermont. Starting with a $12,000 investment
($4,000 of which was borrowed), the company built a devoted
following, both for their products and business practices.
The company experienced difficulties
with their distribution early on. Häagen-Dazs tried to
force independent distributors to choose one of the brands,
and Ben and Jerry's filed a law suit against the Pillsbury
subsidiary saying that it had acted illegally in its operation
and was trying to put Ben and Jerrys out of business. To coincide
with the lawsuit Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield also began
the “What is the Doughboy afraid of?” campaign
to raise public awareness. They also encouraged a boycott
of all Pillsbury subsidiaries, which included Burger King.
Pillsbury went to Ben and
Jerry's with an out-of-court settlement and signed an agreement
that stated it would not impose any such rules on the suppliers.
The Ben and Jerry's brand grew tremendously, partly because
of the success of the David and Goliath case and the publicity
the brand received because if it.
As demand for their products
grew, the friends decided to fund their growth by taking the
company public. The capital raised from their IPO helped fuel
rapid expansion, but also reduced the founders' control.In
1988, Ben and Jerry were named "U.S. Small Business Persons
of the Year" by President Ronald Reagan.
After a failed attempt by
Ben Cohen to retake the company private, Ben and Jerry's was
purchased in August 2000 by the Unilever conglomerate for
slightly over $170 million. Other Unilever brands of ice cream
include Dove, Breyer's, Magnum, Wall's, and Solero.
The company today
The company is known for creating
innovative flavors that emphasize the use of natural ingredients;
for example, the farmers that provide their cream pledge that
it comes from cows that are free from bovine growth hormone.
However, in 2002, the Center for Science in the Public Interest
accused Ben and Jerry's of abusing the "All Natural"
label for using artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, and
other factory-made substances in their products. Ben and Jerry's
official response was that they used a different definition
of "all natural" than the CSPI.
They have since removed the "All Natural" tag-line
from below their logo.
The packaging for their pint
containers is made from recycled, bleach-free papers. The
company is supporting research into thermoacoustics to minimize
the potential negative environmental impact from using ozone-depleting
refrigerants. As a whole the company is very eco-friendly
and encourages its users and consumers to be the same.
Some of their ice
cream flavors are named after musicians, such
as their most popular flavor Cherry Garcia, named after Jerry
Garcia, and Phish Food, named after the Vermont-based band
Phish, as well as Dave Matthews Band's One Sweet Whirled.Flavors
from the company come and go, with seasonal "limited
edition" ones appearing each year. Other types, such
as Rainforest Crunch, have actually simply been retired as
new ones are created. Retired flavors enter what is referred
to as the "flavor graveyard".Their website offers
a list of both new, older, and limited edition flavors.
For one day every April, Ben
and Jerry's observes Free Cone Day as a "thank you"
to its customers. On this day, over one million cones are
given away.Despite their strong reputation in the GLBT community
Unilever ice cream subsidiary only scored a 71%
on the 2004 Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign.
In 2005, Ben and Jerry's opened
a store in Austin, Texas, which is operated by LifeWorks,
a community organization that helps at-risk youth and families.
The store provides job opportunities for LifeWorks clients.
All profits from the store go directly to LifeWorks and Ben
and Jerry's does not collect a franchise fee.