It stands to reason that if we’re going to be in Vermont, a stop at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory can’t be missed. Here’s a peek at our recent visit.
Our visit to Waterbury was our favorite day of our Vermont vacation, because we seriously just went up and down the street, eating and drinking our way through various stops. Cheese, a coffee output, an orchard store, and the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.
It was a good day, no question about it.
The factory was easy to find and there is plenty of free parking. Getting behind-the-scenes tours are one of my favorite things to do, especially if it involves a food product (the kids and I love watching Food Factory USA), so we were really looking forward to this portion of our trip.
And, well, ice cream.
As soon as you approach the building, the delicious smell of waffle cones swirls around. We arrived a few minutes before the next tour started, and after we paid our admission charge, we killed time by poking around the gift shop. Be sure to visit it while you’re there if you’re looking for unique gifts for your favorite ice cream fan.
The admission was a terrific bargain, just $4 for me, and the kids are free.
If you have ever heard of Ben & Jerry’s before, you probably already know that the company is pretty environmentally conscious, and they have been that way from the very start. Ben and Jerry learned how to make ice cream from a $5 class they took when they were in grade school. They were best friends from seventh grade gym class, and it’s amazing how far they have come, and the success they have achieved for that initial $5 investment. Can you imagine?
Truly one of the great American business stories.
As their success grew, they sold shares to Vermont residents to be able to afford a larger facility to meet their growing demands. The shareholders focused, both then and now, on product quality, social responsibility, and economic reward. Fair trade is a cornerstone to the company, and they aggressively promote opportunities for their employees to give back to their community, with employee-led community action teams that help local Vermont neighbors.
The plant operates twenty-four hours a day, five days a week. They only work on one flavor at a time, and usually only one flavor per day, though some flavors have carried production over 72 hours to meet the demands.
Cookie dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Cherry Garcia (one of my favorites) are the most popular flavors, and Vanilla and Mint Chocolate Chunk were the first flavors ever made.
Cherry Garcia was the number one seller for decades, but Half Baked has recently taken over the top spot.
The inside of the factory is amazingly sterile. You obviously expect it to be, since it’s a food processing facility, but to see it in actuality is even better. Sadly they don’t allow pictures inside the plant, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Our guide was friendly and outgoing and able to easily answer the questions from our group. At the end of the tour, we were allowed to sample a Ben & Jerry’s “flavor of the day,” and that day it was Strawberry Cheesecake. It wasn’t a flavor any of us had had before, but it was delish. It was smooth and creamy, and you could really taste the graham cracker crumbs with hints of strawberries.
Once the tour is done, you can visit the gift shop or purchase ice cream sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes, and a number of other items from the ice cream shop. There were a handful of small tables to sit and enjoy your treat.
If you happen to be in the area, or are going through Waterbury, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory makes for a fun visit.
Hungry for more to do in Vermont?
Also in Waterbury, the Cabot cheese shop is conveniently right down the street.
The Vermont Country Store was an awesome stop and the last thing we did before heading home.
Our trip kicked off with a stop at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.
Random photo dump of our week in Vermont.