5th September, 2016
We're reasonable people here at Ben & Jerry's, so we know that nobody's perfect. Somtimes we let our cones get a little drippy and ruin our favourite t-shirt, and sometimes we're rocked by scandals that shake us to the very core... or at least make us laugh pretty hard! Check out these 6 episodes from our colourful history:
Starting a Business = A Lot Harder Than It Looks!
When our co-founders first opened shop, they were newbies to the whole running-a-business thing. As the duo write in their 1997 tell-all-book, "Our portion control was out of control; we were hiring our friends and then agonising over supervising them. We were having fun, but we weren't exactly mastering the art of retailing." They got the hang of it eventually, though, and had opened 41 more scoop shops by 1987!
What's the Doughboy Afraid Of?!
By 1984, Ben and Jerry were churning out pints to sell in supermarkets far and wide. But, with so many brands competing, getting your product onto the shelves was no easy task. So when Haagen-Dazs (at the time owned by Pillsbury) tried to keep us out of stores, our co-founders took action.
We believed that Pillsbury's actions were illegal, but we knew that in a strictly legal fight we'd run out of time and money long before Pillsbury would. Our only option was to rely on our customers and the media to pressure Pillsbury into backing off. So we starting printing the slogan "What's the Doughboy afriad of?" onto our pint containers, along with on 800 number. Everyone who called got a Doughboy Kit, with protest letters addressed to the Federal Trade Commission and the chairman of the Pillsbury board.
Once the media got wind, the campaign gained national attention. Eventually 400 people a week were calling the Doughboy Hotline... and it worked! Pillsbury backed off and agreed to stop blocking Ben & Jerry's from store shelves. Success!
Activism Gone Awry
Ben and Jerry have long been advocates for democracy and of all voices being heard in the voting process. So in 2008, we decided to offer a free scoop to anyone who showed us their "I Voted" sticker. We didn't care who you voted for... just that you got out and did it!
Turns out that giving away freebies as incentives for voting is not super legal, so we had to modify the offer: free scoops for anybody who had a sticker on, voting-related or otherwise. Sure, some wiseguys came in with non-voting-related stickers for a free scoop... but we were happy to oblige!
Ben & Jerry's Flavours Get a Little Hot...
We're no strangers to flirting with the boundaries of the untoward - think Karamel Sutra and Shweddy Balls. But when a couple of porn producers started using Ben & Jerry's flavours as the inspiration for their films, we had to draw the line. It turns out you won't be seeing any fudge swirls or peanut butter cups in the adult section of your local video store after all...
Ben & Jerry Get Arrested
In a plot twist that riled the internet for weeks, our co-founders laid it all on the line for their beliefs this past April. While in the US, taking part in the Democracy Awakening week of action, they were arrested, along with hundreds of other activists. "The history of our country is that nothing happens, until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested" said Ben just before the arrest.
We couldn't be prouder that our co-founders are willing to risk it all for what they believe in. Because what they believe in - that everyone should have a voice in our democracy - is more important now than ever.
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