There are definitely worse things in life than eating too much ice cream, right? Here’s a recap of Day 1 of my time in Vermont with Ben & Jerry’s!
Our day started bright and early with breakfast at The Skinny Pancake. I thought I knew every restaurant in Burlington, but I had never heard of The Skinny Pancake, so I checked out the menu online the night before. Everything sounded delicious, so I was really looking forward to breakfast.
The menu at The Skinny Pancake included so many incredible options. I eventually decided on a savory crepe called “Déjà vu.” Inside was local Italian sausage, egg, cheddar, spinach, and apples, and it was amazing. It was a good size portion, and I ate every last bite of it. Holy yum!
After breakfast, our group (16 bloggers) headed to the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters.
When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by the staff (they greeted us with applause!) and then given a tour of the facilities.
A slide at work? Ben & Jerry’s is definitely a fun place! Imagine having a stressful day at work and then flinging yourself down that slide. I know I’d feel instantly better!
Other great workplace elements:
- Conference rooms and meeting spaces named after Ben & Jerry’s flavors
- A private room, called the “Milky Way,” for nursing moms
- The “Zen Den” where employees can get massages
- Employees get 3 free pints of ice cream to take home EACH DAY!
- A gym where employees can burn off all of those ice cream calories
- Employees can bring their dogs to work!
The most adorable dog at Ben and Jerry’s was obviously Bodhi, a 6-month-old pug puppy.
We spent the majority of the morning at Scoop U, where new shop owners come to learn all about Ben & Jerry’s and how to properly serve customers. On days when there are training sessions at Scoop U, Ben & Jerry’s employees have the opportunity to be served any ice cream treat they want for just a $1. Rumor has it that employees come running when Scoop U is in session! I love that they have such enthusiasm for their ice cream!
Fun facts that I learned at Scoop U:
- When Ben and Jerry first teamed up in the late-1970s, they almost went into the bagel business. They had plans to launch “United Bagel Service,” but the equipment to make bagels was too expensive, so they decided to go with ice cream instead. They originally wanted to open an ice cream shop down south (warm weather = ice cream), but there was too much competition, so they came to Burlington, Vermont.
- Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has so much flavor because Ben has a sinus condition that gives him tasting problems.
- Some of the flavor names of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream have come from consumers, including Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia, and Chunky Monkey. Similarly, flavor ideas also come from consumers. For example, “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough” was actually written on a chalkboard at the Burlington store and then the flavor was developed after that.
- The top selling Ben & Jerry’s flavor is Half Baked. (It was Cherry Garcia up until recently.)
- Ben & Jerry’s gave away about a million free cones in the U.S. on “Free Cone Day” last year. Seven thousand of those were at the Burlington location.
- Ben & Jerry’s was purchased by Unilever 14 years ago, but B&J’s retains its own independent Board of Directors that allows them to make their own decisions and stick to their progressive mission statement, especially when it comes to social issues, such as marriage equality and GMO labeling.
- New flavors coming to Scoop Shops this year: Cotton Candy, Turtle Cheesecake, and Core Sundaes (Salted Caramel and Hazed & Confused). Scoop Shops will also offer a hardening chocolate shell topping (just like “Magic Shell”).
- Ben & Jerry’s squash-flavored ice cream is really popular in Japan.
While listening to the morning sessions, I enjoyed a mini cup of Americone Dream, which is definitely a new favorite of mine!
After the morning sessions, we broke for lunch, which included a number of healthy options (to balance out all of the ice cream).
Our next activity of the day was working with “Flavor Gurus,” Peter and Dave, to create our own special ice cream flavors. (Can you believe these guys develop ice cream flavors for a living? How cool is that?!)
After the group was split into four smaller teams, we got to work on our flavors.
My team was really scientific with how we created our flavor. We basically taste-tested all of the different toppings available to us and then chose our favorites. See, super scientific. Haha!
The basic ice cream-making progress: In goes the cream and sugar…
Out comes the ice cream, which is then mixed with the toppings we selected…
Swirl time! Caramel or honey caramel? We couldn’t decided, so we tasted both of them with the ice cream. Honey caramel was the winner!
We swirled the ice cream with the honey caramel by hand…
Swirling was actually a lot of fun!
The flavor that our team created was called “40 Weeks,” which was inspired by my baby bump and the crave-worthy ingredients that went into it. Listen to this delicious combo: Sweet cream ice cream with chocolate coated potato chip balls, almond toffee, and a honey caramel swirl. Heavenly, right? (We worked with the creative team at Ben & Jerry’s to design the poster below.)
While we waited for everyone to finish making their flavors, we had the opportunity to try a Core Sundae from the Scoop Shop, which was two flavors of ice cream with our choice of hot fudge or caramel down the middle. Um, yea, I was just a tad excited about this.
While at the Scoop Shop, I also had a chance to try Scotchy Scotch Scotch, which was so, so, so good. It was really sweet and butterscotch-y. I will definitely keep an eye out for this one at my local grocery store!
Schweddy Balls? Haha! Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Saturday Night Live to create this limited batch flavor back in 2011.
The day concluded with each team presenting their ice cream flavor, poster, and sales pitch to the judges.
Sadly, the judges didn’t select our flavor as the winner, BUT when everyone had the chance to taste all of the different flavors that were created for the contest, the group as a whole really liked our flavor. It was actually the most eaten flavor based on how much of the pints were left, so our team was happy. (The winning flavor was called “Polar Core-tex”!)
Day 2 recap coming next!