Ben and Jerry learned how to make ice cream by taking a $5 correspondence course.
Source: Original photo by Mohan Kumar / 500px via Getty Images
Next Fact

Ben and Jerry learned how to make ice cream by taking a $5 correspondence course.

The founders of the country’s leading ice cream brand spent only a pint-sized sum learning how to make their product. Both growing up on Long Island, New York, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield became friends in seventh grade, back in 1963. Originally, they set their sights on being a doctor (Greenfield) and an artist (Cohen). But once they reached their 20s — a rejected medical school applicant and a potter who dropped out of college — they decided to enter the food industry instead. The duo came close to becoming bagel makers, but realized that producing ice cream was cheaper (bagel-making equipment can be pretty pricey). Their dessert education arrived through a Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences correspondence course, which sent them a textbook in the mail and required only open-book tests. The course has since been replaced by a week-long series of workshops, the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course, which bills itself as the country’s “oldest, best-known, and largest educational program dealing with the science and technology of ice cream.” Established in 1925, the program has attracted representatives from Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs, and Blue Bell Creamery who want to improve their knowledge of research and development, quality control, sales strategies, and more.

Ben & Jerry’s has never had an ice cream flavor that contains raisins.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Produced from 1979 until 1991, Dastardly Mash was the lone Ben & Jerry's flavor to ever feature dried grapes. Aside from raisins, the flavor included chocolate ice cream, pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips.

To prepare to run Ben & Jerry’s, Cohen and Greenfield also purchased various brochures from the Small Business Administration, sold for 20 cents each at the post office. Next, they decided to open a shop in bucolic Burlington, Vermont, home to the University of Vermont’s campus (and thousands of hungry students). Their doors opened in 1978 in a former gas station with unsightly holes in the roof that Cohen attempted to patch up with tin sheets and tar. Cohen and Greenfield secured the location by combining a $4,000 bank loan with their pooled $8,000 (including $2,000 supplied by Cohen’s dad). All of the ice cream was made in a five-gallon machine, and the shop originally sold eight flavors: Oreo Mint, French Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge, Wild Blueberry, Mocha Walnut, Maple Walnut, Honey Coffee, and Honey Orange. However, as the flavors got wilder — think Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Phish Food — many more outposts and a wholesale delivery business followed, as did an IPO. In 2000, Unilever — the parent company of Breyers and Klondike — paid $326 million to acquire Ben & Jerry’s.   

Make Every Day More Interesting
Receive Facts Directly In Your Inbox. Daily.

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Numbers Don’t Lie
Discontinued Ben & Jerry’s flavors, 34 of which have received an afterlife in the factory’s Flavor Graveyard
300+
Ben & Jerry’s locations currently operating worldwide
577
Suggestions for new flavors that Ben & Jerry’s customers submit each year
13,000
Total U.S. sales of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in 2020
$863.1 million
These rockers helped Ben & Jerry's create two flavors: One Sweet Whirled and _______'s Magic Brownies.
These rockers helped Ben & Jerry's create two flavors: One Sweet Whirled and Dave Matthews Band's Magic Brownies.
Ready to Reveal?
Confirm your email to reveal the answer

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Think Twice
One of Ben & Jerry’s namesake co-founders can barely taste food.

As a kid, Ben Cohen was diagnosed with anosmia, a rare sinus condition that renders him unable to smell. In addition, he has a very limited sense of taste. When eating, Cohen has long derived pleasure from textures. Before helming a business, it was second nature for him to add pieces of cookies or candy to his bowls of ice cream. In recent decades, the signature Ben & Jerry's item has become a scoop of ice cream brimming with ingredients like chunky fudge, airy marshmallows, and swirly caramel. The company even pioneered cookie dough ice cream, knowing that pearls of batter would result in a satisfying mouthfeel for everyone.  

Article image
You might also like
7 Amazing Facts You Might Not Know About Milk
Milk has been the backbone of entire empires, and the substance even describes the very galaxy in which our planet resides. Here are seven amazing facts about milk (and its tasty plant-based alternatives).