Ben and Jerry's First Store

Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream company has quickly become a Vermont institution. Offering a range of delicious flavors using quality ingredients, Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream has a following far beyond Burlington, the northern Vermont town where it got its beginning.

Ben and Jerrys history dates back to 1978 when, after taking a $5 correspondence course in ice cream manufacturing, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened Ben and Jerrys first store in an old gas station in Burlington Vermont. Ben and Jerrys first store in no longer in operation, but there is a plaque embedded in the sidewalk marking its original location. Don’t worry, though, there are many other Ben and Jerrys stores around Vermont and now all across the United States.

If you are looking for things to do on a Vermont vacation, think about going to Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, not far from Montpelier Vermont and just a short drive from Stowe ski area. Free guided tours begin with a seven-minute video on Ben and Jerrys history. You can look in as Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream is made from a mezzanine overlooking the factory. Tours run every half an hour, until 5 pm in the winter and until 9pm in the summer and fall. The factory is popular in summer and fall, so expect a long wait between getting your ticket and the beginning of the tour. You can use your time to explore Waterbury, a pleasant working-class town, refreshingly down-to-earth compared to nearby ski resorts.

The tours are fun and educational, but don’t worry if you get bored, the end will be well worth the wait: delicious samples in a special FlavoRoom. There is also a Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream store selling over 30 flavors and other merchandise.

If you are looking for hotels near the Ben and Jerrys factory, try the Thatcher Brook Inn, a 1899 mansion that once was the residence for workers at the sawmill across the road and is now an elegant inn with gazebos, porches, and covered walkways. The dining room serves classic French cuisine—a good place for lunch before heading next door to the factory for your dessert.

Throughout Ben and Jerrys history the company has maintained a reputation for social responsibility and good treatment of its employees and customers. Concern that this would change when the company was sold to Unilever in 2000 seems to have been unfounded. At no time is the commitment Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream shows to its customers more evident than on the annual free cone day. Since the 10th anniversary of the opening of Ben and Jerrys first store on May 5th, 1978, franchises around the nation have given away free ice cream to every customer. Lines sometimes form around the block on these days, but after your first taste of Cherry Garcia or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, you’ll know what the fuss is all about: Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream is delicious.

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