Everyone has a favorite flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Whether you’re a fan of Phish Food or a connoisseur of Cherry Garcia, you know how delightful a scoop of these delectable treats can be. Ben and Jerry’s is available all over the world nowadays, but did you know the company was started by two friends in a gas station in Vermont? Make a trip to the company’s main factory in Waterbury, Vermont to see where everything started and to enjoy a scoop (or two!) of these beloved desserts.
Take a tour and see how ice cream is made
Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors to the Ben and Jerry’s factory is the tour. Behind a locked door lie the production secrets of one of the world’s most loved ice cream makers. Each 30-minute tour is led by a guide. The first stop on the tour is the movie theater. Here, a short film recounts the lives of Ben and Jerry before they struck it big, the beginnings of the company, and how the business has evolved since its creation in 1978.
After the video, the guide leads visitors to a mezzanine overlooking the production floor. Learn about each of the machines and its role in the ice cream-making process while watching the frozen treats get made right before your eyes. Tours are run seven days a week, but production only happens Monday through Friday. Don’t worry too much if you visit on a weekend. The only thing you will miss is seeing the lids get placed on the containers of ice cream. Be aware that photography is neither allowed in the movie theater nor on the production floor.
The last stop on the tour is the Flavor Room, the closely-protected area where Ben and Jerry’s Screamers (ice-creamers) experiment with all sorts of wacky ingredients in order to produce revolutionary new flavors. Visitors will also learn about some of the crazy flavors that flopped such as lemon poppy seed and candied apple. After a quick demonstration, visitors are given a sample of the experimental flavors.
Pay your respects at the Flavor Graveyard
If you have to wait a while for your designated tour, fear not! There are plenty of activities to keep you busy. One of the best is a trip to the Flavor Graveyard. Follow the signs up a small hill behind the factory to find it. Inside there are about 30 headstones, each representing a retired Ben and Jerry’s flavor. Big fans of Ben and Jerry’s will enjoy the trip down memory lane as they mourn over their favorite bygone ice creams like Bovinity Divinity and Fossil Fuel. Each headstone includes a description of the flavor, the dates it was manufactured, and a short, funny poem paying homage to it. Legend says that if enough people express regret for a retired flavor, by leaving flowers and notes, for example, Ben and Jerry’s might bring back said flavor.
Indulge in a luscious ice cream
At the end of an afternoon touring the factory and grieving at the Flavor Graveyard, relax with cup or cone of your favorite flavor. The line for the Scoop Shop is fairly long, but the beautiful views Vermont’s Green Mountains and the list of over 30 flavors will keep you occupied while you wait. If you’re unsure about a flavor, you can try a free sample before committing. Because of the richness of the ice cream, a kiddie size is usually enough, but if you really want to make the most of your time (and you brought a bunch of friends) why not attempt the Vermonster Sundae? It’s made with 20 scoops of ice cream, four bananas, three cookies, a brownie, hot fudge, whipped cream, and candy toppings!
Partake in one of the best food tours around
You’ll enjoy the Ben and Jerry’s factory whether you’re a Ben and Jerry’s amateur or a seasoned ice cream connoisseur. From the in-depth tour, to the silly activities, to the tempting Scoop Shop, there’s plenty to keep everyone busy for a few hours.
Tickets are 4.00 USD for adults and free for children under 12. They can only be purchased in person at the Waterbury, Vermont factory and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Usually you won’t have to wait too long for the next tour, but it is recommended to arrive early during summer months. Hours vary based on seasons. During the low season (January to June), tours are run between 10.00 AM and 6.00 PM. During the high season (June to August) tours are run between 9.00 AM and 9.00 PM
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