Vermont’s Finest – A Legacy of Ice Cream and Social Good, Still Going Strong After Four Decades
With their creative flavors, iconic logo, founding roots in Burlington, and focus on sustainable business practices, Ben and Jerry’s is synonymous with our state. Visiting the Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury location is a quintessential Vermont experience, fun for the whole family, and you’ll learn about their fair-trade and socially-conscious mission while enjoying ice cream fresh off the production line.
The Ben and Jerry’s factory is just 1.5 miles away from our Vermont bed and breakfast. Plan to join one of their guided tours during your stay and check out the unique “flavor graveyard,” which pays homage to past ice cream varieties that hold a special place in the company’s flavor-filled history.
It may be hard to imagine now, as Ben and Jerry’s pints are ubiquitous in the freezer sections of stores worldwide, but founders Ben and Jerry got their start in a Burlington gas station in 1978 with just $12,000 to their name. During the early years, they drove their car cross-country, spreading the word about their inventive flavors and social activism, garnering a loyal fan base. In the 1980s, they were still going from state to state trying to get into more stores
, but this time in the legendary “cow mobile,” which is stored on-site in Waterbury as you enter the front entrance.
Quickly outgrowing the humble gas station, they opened the Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury factory in 1985, keeping their roots in small-town Vermont while producing an impressive 350,000 pints daily! It’s still a working production factory today, open to the public, and their 30-minute Factory Experience tours are the best way to get an inside look at how they produce their famous ice creams, how the company has evolved over the decades, and of course sample an array of ice creams. They release tour tickets two weeks in advance, so set a reminder to book your factory tour slot online two weeks before the day you want to visit. And although day-of tickets are sometimes available, they are not guaranteed, and tours often sell out during the busy summer months. Helpful hint: if you forget to make an online reservation and want to go on a whim, the evening tour times after 6 pm are often easier to get on shorter notice.
On the factory tour, you’ll watch a short film about Ben and Jerry’s inspiring story, get a view of the ice cream production line, sample an exclusive ice cream flavor, and have your choice of endless options from the Waterbury factory Scoop Shop menu. Although factory tours occur daily, note that the Scoop Shop at the time of writing is not open on Sundays and Mondays, so avoid those days if you want to indulge in some ice cream after the tour.
It’s a challenge choosing at the Scoop Shop between classics like Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (one of their original ice cream creations) or newer flavors like Chocolate Therapy – a true chocolate lover’s delight, with chocolate ice cream, chocolate cookies, and swirls of chocolate pudding. Pints are also available, including the faves Chunky Monkey and Phish Food (named after a jam band you may have heard of from Vermont) and “core” styles with brownie batter, salted caramel, or cookie dough mixed throughout. If your group is extra adventurous, order the “Vermonster,” a sundae with 20 scoops (not a typo!) of ice cream, hot fudge, bananas, and all the toppings you want. Is your mouth watering yet?!
More Than Just a Factory – A Unique “Graveyard,” Fun for Kids, and Gift Shop
Once you’ve satisfied your curiosity and your tastebuds, it’s time to commemorate your visit with authentic Ben and Jerry memorabilia from the onsite gift shop. And don’t forget the photo ops! If you’ve ever dreamed of being featured on a pint of ice cream, you’re in luck. Stop by the oversized outdoor Half Baked pint (which happens to be rated the best of the Ben and Jerry’s lineup), where you and a friend can put your faces in the cut-out spots where Ben and Jerry usually are on the label. Next, for a truly unique experience, stop by one of the most charming parts of the Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury experience – the “flavor graveyard.” Tombstones pay poetic tribute to ice cream flavors that have come and gone over the many decades with cleverly-worded descriptions. Finally, run off some of your (or your kids’) energy at the playground before setting off on your next adventure.
Stay at our Waterbury Hotel, where Ben and Jerry’s is a cherished part of local folklore, and your favorite ice cream flavors are just down the road!