Stories of people who made it …
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield —Sold Ben and Jerry’s for $326 million
- In 1978, with a total investment of $12,000 opened a homemade ice cream parlor in a abandoned gas station in Burlington, Vermont.
- In 1979, they marked their anniversary by holding the first-ever free cone day, now an international annual celebration at every Ben & Jerry’s store.
- In 1981, the first Ben & Jerry’s franchise opened in Shelburne, Vermont.
- Their 1984 campaign “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” against Häagen-Dazs received widespread press coverage.
From a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont, to far-off places with names we sometimes mispronounce, the journey that began in 1978 with 2 guys and the ice cream business they built is as legendary as the ice cream is euphoric.
- In 1985 The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was established with a gift from Ben and Jerry & 7.5% of the company’s annual pre-tax profits to fund community-oriented projects.
- The next year Ben & Jerry’s launched the Cowmobile, a modified mobile home used to distribute free scoops in a unique, cross-country "marketing drive." On the return trip, the Cowmobile burned to the ground outside of Cleveland, Ohio (no one was hurt). Ben said it looked "like the world’s largest Baked Alaska."
- The company grew through the 1990s and Ben & Jerry’s became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever on August 3, 2000. Through a unique acquisition agreement, an independent Board of Directors is created to provide leadership focused on preserving and expanding Ben & Jerry’s social mission, brand integrity, and product quality.
My summary of Ben and Jerry’s is nowhere close to the adventure these men had while building the business. For more information read “Ben and Jerry’s” written by Fred Lager. It’s one of the best books (business or otherwise) I’ve ever read.