National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July every year. Did you know in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month? This year National Ice Cream Day was in July 2013 and it was purely a coincidence that I had planned a trip to visit Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont on that day!
Where It All Started
The Waterbury factory is nestled among the rolling hills and cattle farms of Vermont, about 30 miles from the city of Burlington. The drive itself is beautiful any time of the year as you get to see the pristine countryside of Vermont (meaning green hills.)
Tours are offered daily for both adults and children. A friendly teenager showed us a short video on the history of Ben & Jerry’s, its founders, and the company. Then we saw the processing plant and watched step-by-step operations of how really good ice cream is manufactured. The employees get weekends off, so you need to go during business hours to see ice cream making in action. Next, we went into a Flavoroom, where we could sample the flavor of the day. It happened to be one of their new limited-time flavors, Salted Carmel.
The factory hallways were decorated with fun artifacts, historic memorabilia, and a row of popular flavors. Can you guess what is the most popular Ben & Jerry’s flavor? In the past week alone, I tried the Raspberry Fudge Chuck frozen Greek yogurt, Chunky Monkey shake, Coffee Caramel Buzz, and Phish Food ice creams!
Finally, we could shop for cool t-shirts and merchandise at the gift shop. Even if you didn’t want to take a tour, you could easily spend some time at the Scoop Shop, an outdoor idea cream parlor with lots of great choices for cups, cones, sundaes, and shakes.
A Sustainable Product
Ben & Jerry’s prides itself in being a sustainable company that supports local farms and real food. They claim to use humanely-treated dairy, Fair-Market, and non-genetically modified ingredients. Also, their suppliers are Vermont based co-ops where local residents are paid above-average wages. One can tell by the happy faces of the employees that free ice cream, gym memberships, and vacation days are not the only things they are passionate about! Even though they are owned by Anglo-Dutch multinational corporation, Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s maintains the autonomy of how they operate their business.
So, what do I think of Ben & Jerry’s? I am more of a gelato person when it comes to a frozen dessert, but if I have to eat ice-cream, my first choice would be Ben & Jerry’s! Any ice cream will you the sugar-ice rush, but why not feel good about where your money is going to as well?