Yep, the Penn State folklore is true. Ben & Jerry’s got its start at Penn State through a $5 correspondence course on ice cream making. Founder Jerry Greenfield gave the inside scoop on the business during a recent lecture at Penn State Altoona.
After completing the Penn State correspondence course on ice cream making in 1978, Jerry Greenfield and friend Ben Cohen opened Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream Scoop Shop in an old gas station in downtown Burlington, Vt. Two years later, the pair upgraded their digs to an old spool and bobbin mill and began packing their ice cream in pints. Today, Ben & Jerry’s is a producer of specialty ice cream with 64 flavors available in 31 countries. The company now has almost 200 franchised shops.
It wasn’t always an easy road from the shop in the former gas station to today’s successful ice cream business. Greenfield spoke about some of the roadblocks to success, including balancing the business end of things and the responsibilities he and Cohen felt they had toward the community and social impact. Greenfield says he and Cohen felt very strongly about the “spiritual aspect” of their ice cream business. “As you give, you receive,” he said. “As you help others, you’re helped in return.”
Some notable quotes from Greenfield’s talk:
On the Penn State ice cream course
“I can't speak highly enough about the correspondence course. With it, we finally discovered the type of education suited to our unique learning styles. We are the best advertisement you can get.”
On Berkey Creamery ice cream
“The Penn State Creamery ice cream is legendary and deservedly so. It’s what I would think of as a different style than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Our ice cream isn’t really classic ice cream. Creamery ice cream is.”
On the power of business in today's world
“We realized that a combination of human energy plus money equals power. Business is the most powerful force in society today. It has an incredible influence on elections, legislation, media and how we’re all treated as employees and customers. Our customers need to have businesses addressing the social problems in our country.”
For more information on Ben & Jerry’s, visit the company Web site.