The History of the Legendary Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream

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Chunky Monkey… Half Baked… Phish Food… By now you’re probably thinking “What is this guy talking about?” unless, you’re a fan of the signature Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavors that is! The entrepreneur’s I chose as my “entrepreneurial legend” are Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield for their legendary ice cream. The reason I chose Ben and Jerry was not only due to the unique and delicious flavors they offer, but also the social impact they have had on the LGBT community through their social entrepreneurism. Before getting into the all the great things they’ve done, it’s important we take a look at where they started and how their skills and drive built one of the biggest names in ice cream.

The two New Yorkers both born in Brooklyn, attended high school together in Merrick, Long Island. The two friends attended different colleges post grad with Ben moving on to Colgate University and Jerry at Oberlin College. Both students took interest in pre-med but, unfortunately, Jerry was never accepted into the program. Years later in their home state of New York, the two made the decision to get into business together and become their own boss. The two initially “considered opening a bagel shop” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009) but “found the cost of the equipment would be prohibitive” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009) which ultimately led their decision to ice cream.

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Now that Ben and Jerry had decided on what they would produce, they had two more economic questions to answer; how to produce it and whom to produce it for. The pair decided on a location for their new ice cream business. It was then “after doing some initial research, through almanacs, to find a warm weather college town in which to locate their business” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009) which placed them in Burlington, Vermont. When scouting out a location to begin their journey, they came across “an old gas station that was available for rent” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009) to which they would soon lease and become their first store, providing treats of “a variety of wild flavors and large portions” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009) to the people of Burlington, Vermont in the summer of 1978.

None of this would have come to fruition without some very tough managerial economic choices from the duo. With only 8,000 dollars in savings, a location many banks thought “unsuitable and the business less than desirable as an investment [and they were only able to] secure a $4,000 loan” (Famous Entrepreneurs , 2009). Ben and Jerry had to assess their available funds and allocatedistribute them across by the purchase of equipment and remodeling their location to get the shop up and running.

With the first two winter months unsuccessful, yet booming summer months, they had to make a choice on how they would continue to grow their operation and ensure future success. The two evaluated the risk associated with expansion and began to market their products into local restaurants and grocers. The increase in demand meant it was time to grow out of their first location and into something that will allow greater production. With a recipe for success they expanded into an old mill to develop a packaging system, allowing them to place their product in pints and in freezers worldwide (Ben & Jerrys, n.d.).

Furthermore as the company began to grow, Ben and Jerry developed a sense of social responsibility to give back to the people that helped them become successful. The company states their social mission is “To operate the company in a way that actively recognized the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally” (Ben & Jerrys, n.d.). Supporting the environment and all of its inhabitants, the company uses responsibly sourced packaging, and partnered with company Caring Dairy to “help farmers move toward more sustainable practices on the farm.” (Ben & Jerrys, n.d.)

Not only did they implement fair practices in their manufacturing, Ben and Jerry also became one of the first major employers in Vermont to offer benefits to domestic partners of employees, including same sex couples starting in 1989 (Ben & Jerrys, n.d.). Through giving back to their community they have established their place as an LGBT friendly company with their efforts throughout the years supporting the Employment Non -Discrimination Act, providing grants to organizations such as PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and even naming ice creams in conjunction with victories of marriage equality.

What started out as two buddies making ice cream in an old gas station in Virginia, Ben and Jerry’s has become one of the leading novelty ice cream brands worldwide. The strategic, economical choices made by these two put Ben and Jerry’s on the map and allowed them to expand out of their college town ice cream spot. These legendary entrepreneurs have used their passion for creating new flavors, and love for their community to make a name for themselves and provide ethically sourced products to their consumers everywhere.

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The History of the Legendary Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. (2023, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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