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How Did Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Get Its Start?

Ben Cohen dropped out of college in the mid-1970s, hoping to ultimately pursue a career as a potter. Around the same time, Jerry Greenfield, his friend from their junior high school days on Long Island, graduated from Oberlin College, intending to go on to medical school. Neither of those plans worked out, so Cohen and Greenfield decided to learn how to make ice cream instead by enrolling in a correspondence course offered by Pennsylvania State University. For $5 USD -- they split the cost evenly -- they learned enough to open up a homemade ice cream shop in an abandoned gas station in Burlington, Vermont. And, if you've ever had a scoop of Chunky Monkey or Phish Food, you'll know that the rest is Ben & Jerry's history.

A $326 million cherry on top:

  • Cohen and Greenfield cobbled together $4,000 USD, and a bank loaned them another $4,000 USD in order to get the business churning.

  • Cohen has severe anosmia, which means that he lacks the ability to smell or taste properly. His reliance on how things feel in his mouth led to the use of chunky ingredients in Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

  • In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's was sold to the Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever for $326 million USD.

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More Info: The Washington Post

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