My Experience at Ben & Jerry’s, Part One

So, where do I start?

How do I even begin to describe the experience I just had?

My heart says it went something like this:


But if I explained it like that, my brain (and yours) would likely explode.

But, in all honesty, that’s exactly how it felt. And it still hasn’t really hit me yet.

I did go to Ben and Jerry’s. And it was an amazing time.

Let me tell you about it.

I flew into Burlington, Vermont on Sunday night, where I happened to meet up with a fellow Chicagoan – Tammy from Chicago Bites. We shared a cab over to the Hotel Vermont – an amazingly cozy place that pretty much had the whole modern/rustic aesthetic thing nailed. Upon checking into my room, I discovered a bag of Ben & Jerry’s swag, including a personalized fleece, a lock for securing my next pint, some local candies and HEADY TOPPER. Hello! Clearly the people at Ben & Jerry’s did their research. *slowclap*

Heady Topper from @freshandfoodie

I met back up with Tammy and we headed out. Neither of us had been to Burlington before, so we wanted to do a bit of exploring — checking out Lake Champlain and downtown Burlington.

Lake Champlain from @freshandfoodie

And then, we got hungry – as food bloggers tend to do. We stopped at Leunig’s Bistro – a cute and cozy little place downtown. We each ordered a Fiddlehead IPA (a local beer made in nearby Shelburne), a cheese plate (they had eight options) and a bowl of soup – I got white bean and veggie; Tammy got French onion. I really enjoyed everything, but the cheese plate was the standout. Complete with homemade crackers, a sweet/tart cherry chutney, and fresh fruit, I could’ve just ordered that and been completely happy.

Cheese plate at Leunig's Bistro from @freshandfoodie

We finished the night with a drink in the hotel bar, and then settled in for bed. Festivities started tomorrow – bright and early at 8:15.

* * *

Monday’s when the real fun began. We met the entire group, which consisted of 15 bloggers from across the country (including another Chicagoan – Vanessa from French Foodie Mom), Ben & Jerry’s PR folks and even someone from Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever. We enjoyed breakfast at the Skinny Pancake – a local crepe restaurant – before heading over to the Ben & Jerry’s corporate office.

Ben & Jerry's HQ from @freshandfoodie

When we arrived, we were greeted by the entire staff – everyone was clapping for us. It really showed the excitement that everyone shared for our visit, as well as for their company. We got a quick tour of the building (which is SUPER cool, by the way – it even has a twisty slide right in the lobby!), and then settled in at Scoop U, a portion of the building normally used for training. It resembled, as you could imagine, an actual Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, complete with all the fixin’s. And yes, we got to have some ice cream. (In fact, employees get to take home three pints of ice cream a DAY. Talk about employee perks.)

Ben & Jerry's Scoop U from @freshandfoodie

After settling in, we met with Dave, the CMO, Jake, the mobile marketing guru, and Laura, the Scoop Shop extraordinaire. From hearing them talk, you could tell that Ben & Jerry’s really is a special place. They pride themselves on being an activist-based company – a group who leverages their business opportunities to make a positive difference in the world. From working with bakeries like Greyston in the Bronx to supporting mandatory labeling of GMOs, Ben & Jerry’s is so much more than ice cream.

BUT, back to the ice cream. As CMO Dave said, “there are those who like Ben & Jerry’s, and those who haven’t tried it yet.” And try it we did. In fact, we got to conceptualize and create our own flavor with help from the Ben & Jerry’s R&D team. How. Cool. Is. That? I teamed up with fellow Chicagoans Tammy and Vanessa, as well as Atlantian Akila from The Road Forks, and together we created Polar Vortex – an ice cream that…well…I probably don’t need to explain the inspiration to you.

Ben & Jerry's R&D from @freshandfoodie

Polar Vortex is…

  • Vanilla ice cream with a hint of coconut extract
  • White chocolate chip ice
  • Coconut flake grit
  • Chocolate covered potato chip cluster asphalt (for those potholes, yo)
  • A marshmallow core center reminiscent of pure snow
  • A layer of dark chocolate chunks at the bottom of the pint, proving that there’s still a glimmer of hope at the end of a Polar Vortex

Ben & Jerry's R&D from @freshandfoodie

Brilliant, right? Not only did we get to create it, but we also got to work with the Ben & Jerry’s art directors to make a poster to promote it. Here’s ours:

Creating a Ben & Jerry's poster from @freshandfoodie

After all of the groups created their ice cream flavor and poster, there was a competition to determine the winner. More on that (plus much, much more) in my next post.


2 thoughts on “My Experience at Ben & Jerry’s, Part One

  1. Pingback: My Experience at Ben & Jerry’s, Part Two | Fresh & Foodie

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