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  • This is how Vermont's finest grew from cookie dough chunks to hardcore political activism.

  • 1963.

  • Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield meet in seventh grade gym class on Long Island.

  • They're the two slowest kids in class.

  • So, by the laws of middle school, they had to become best friends.

  • 1977.

  • After college, the dudes move to Vermont with the intention of opening a small bagel shop.

  • But, since the bagel-making equipment is too pricey, they pivot to ice cream.

  • Makes sense.

  • 1978.

  • With a modest $12,000 investment, Ben and Jerry open their very first ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in Burlington.

  • Confused motorists soon find out, "Hey, this ice cream is actually a lot better than getting gas!"

  • And Ben & Jerry's becomes a cult hit in Vermont.

  • Five years later.

  • 1983.

  • Ben and Jerry decide to open more scoop shops and strike a deal to sell their pints in chain stores throughout the Northeast.

  • 1984.

  • Okay, weird but necessary fact.

  • Ben has severe anosmia and lacks a sense of smell or taste, so he relies on mouth feel to provide variety in his diet.

  • This is the catalyst that leads to the company's focus on texture, leading to the trademark chunks in their ice cream.

  • Their first chunky-ass pint to hit the shelves is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, still one of their best sellers today.

  • Ben & Jerry's essentially started the whole, "Let's cram cookie dough and cake and candy and whatever we want into ice cream" thing.

  • You're welcome, Cold Stone Creamery.

  • Also in 1984.

  • As Ben and Jerry climb their way to the top, big dog Haagen-Dazs takes notice and tries to interfere with their distribution in Boston.

  • Haagen-Dazs demands that any distributor who wishes to continue carrying their brand must cease sales of Ben & Jerry's.

  • Ben and Jerry have two options.

  • They either take the L and get the hell out of Boston, or fight back, much like Leo in "The Departed."

  • They decide to get scrappy and launch a campaign against Haagen-Dazs's parent company.

  • They urge loyal customers to write and call Pillsbury to ask, "What's the Doughboy afraid of?".

  • Eventually, Haagen-Dazs stands down.

  • The Doughboy is not afraid any more.

  • 1985.

  • Ski movie "Better Off Dead" comes out, whose plot mirrors the Ben & Jerry's / Haagen-Dazs beef to a tee.

  • An oddball goes head to head against the establishment in a very cold setting, and the underdog comes out on top.

  • Coincidence?

  • Well, yeah, probably.

  • 1986.

  • Ben and Jerry hits the road to get their name out in the cross-country tour aboard the Cowmobile, a modified mobile home where they pass out free cones.

  • It's like the Hippie Magic Bus mixed with an ice cream truck.

  • On the return trip, the Cowmobile accidentally catches on fire and burns to the ground.

  • Thankfully, no one was hurt, but Ben said it looked like the world's largest Baked Alaska.

  • 1987.

  • The Cowmobile stunt, along with the commercial success of their newest flavor, named after the Grateful Dead's frontman, officially puts Ben & Jerry's on the map.

  • They become a $30 million empire, with their ice cream being sold in 35 states.

  • Who's the losers sitting on the bleachers in gym class now?

  • Oh wait, that's me.

  • 1988.

  • Ben starts a nonprofit organization to try and redirect one percent of the National Defense budget to fund peace-promoting activities instead.

  • This is far from the last time Ben & Jerry's throw down for their values.

  • Their crusades for social justice have become just as recognizable as their kaleidoscope of ice cream flavors.

  • 1990.

  • Over at Ben & Jerry's headquarters, they devote a space to commemorate discontinued flavors.

  • They call it the Flavor Graveyard.

  • It sounds bleak and spooky, but it's actually my happy place.

  • 2005.

  • To protest oil drilling in the Arctic, Ben and Jerry construct a 900-pound Baked Alaska and pass out slices on the front line of the U.S. capitol.

  • No offense to Cowmobile, but this is actually the world's largest Baked Alaska.

  • 2009.

  • After Vermont becomes the fifth state to recognize same-sex marriage, Ben & Jerry's celebrate by renaming classic flavor Chubby Hubby to Hubby Hubby, aww!

  • 2016.

  • The dairy duo's back at it again in the U.S. capital.

  • This time, they hand out pints of Empower Mint ice cream to every member of Congress, along with a letter asking them to repair the damage done by the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to cut the Voting Rights Act.

  • Later that year, Ben and Jerry are among 300 people arrested as part of the democracy-awakening protest.

  • This move brings attention to issues like voter suppression and keeping big money out of politics.

  • And yet, some people still want them to, quote, "stick to ice cream."

  • 2020.

  • Ben & Jerry's continues to lead the pack when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

  • Here's their activism manager, Chris Miller, on Thrillist's podcast.

  • You know, Ben said many years ago that speaking out about the things that he believes in, not only was it not bad for business, but it actually created a level of loyalty for people who support and share our values.

  • You know, that's very powerful.

  • With more that 600 scoop shop locations over the world, and 60 iconic flavors like Phish Food, Half Baked, Chunky Monkey, and The Tonight Dough, Ben & Jerry's continues to live up to their legen-dairy status.

  • Get it?

  • Dairy, like cows?

  • Anyway, started in a little gas station in Vermont, grew into a worldwide snack food icon chock-full of chunks.

  • Thank you, Ben & Jerry's, for always doing the right thing in politics and in ice cream.

This is how Vermont's finest grew from cookie dough chunks to hardcore political activism.

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History of Ben & Jerry’s

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    Seina posted on 2020/07/21
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