Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield sold their first scoop of ice cream from a renovated Vermont gas station in 1978. Today, Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. is a multimillion-dollar enterprise – and its co-founders look slightly different than they did in the picture that graced labels through the late 1990s. What’s remained constant is Cohen and Greenfield’s commitment to being socially responsible.
At the November Fredericksburg Forum, the duo will present An Evening of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Responsibility, and Radical Business Philosophy. The bespectacled entrepreneurs will tell how two “real guys” who once sold homemade ice cream from Ben’s VW Squareback built not only a sweet business but also a mechanism for social change.
As Cohen and Greenfield kept up with the times – packaging their
product in pint-sized containers, developing an Internet presence, and marketing internationally – so did their flavors. Favorites like Fresh Georgia Peach and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough gave way to pop-culture tastes like Cherry Garcia and the environment-friendly Rainforest Crunch.
The pair has stayed firm in support of nonprofits, education, the environment, and more, winning the 1988 Corporate Giving Award from the Council on Economic Priorities. Their 1997 book, Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip: How to Run a Values-Led Business and Make Money, Too, became a best-seller.
Cohen and Greenfield will speak at the Fredericksburg Forum Saturday, Nov. 10, at 8 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium.