Saturday, July 02, 2011

A Short Tour for Free Ice Cream

I thought it would be fun to tour the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory after spending two days wandering through building after building of historical items. I wanted something less thought-intensive and fun. Well, certainly we got less thought intensive, for sure.

Ben and Jerry's Waterbury factory is located about 30 miles from our campground but since it is all new territory to us, we didn't really mind the drive. I do have to say, however, that Vermont's state and U.S. routes are in absolutely terrible condition. You certainly don't want to drive them with a beverage in your hand because you would end up wearing it. Rough is an understatement. However, we arrived at the factory in one piece and wandered up the path and stairway to the brightly painted buildings and into the scent of baking waffle cones. As we approached the building there was a stand set up for children to create spin paintings and another booth selling something Ben and Jerry's related. At the entrance there is an ice cream stand to your right in case you just can't wait to have some ice cream and at 10AM there was already a line of folks waiting to buy a cone. Inside is the tour ticket sales booth and a large gift shop with clothing, ice cream bowls, hot fudge, Vermont maple syrup and the usual toys and gewgaws. Denny and I had arrived just in time for the next tour and after the tour guide introduced himself to us personally and asked where we were from (we found out why later) we were instructed to walk up the stairs to the video viewing area.

The film was a short introduction to Ben and Jerry, how they met, started making ice cream, created the business, sold out to a large conglomerate but still try to be green and follow Fair Trade policies. It lasted about ten minutes and then we were lead up to the observation deck over the factory floor. There was no ice cream being made on Friday due to the holiday weekend but there was a film loop that showed the production as the tour guide pointed out the various areas of machinery and what each machine group did. The Waterbury factory produces two flavors a day and they only fill pints. The St. Albans factory makes all the other sizes of ice cream containers. This part of the tour was five minutes (which I know because there was a large red countdown timer on the wall to make sure the tour guide didn't exceed his time limit for being in the factory area. Next we were led to the tasting room where the flavor of the day was Americone Dream, a combination of vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered waffle cone bits and a caramel swirl. There was a "contest" to see who came the farthest to tour the factory and a young man from Spain won. His prize? A free cup of ice cream, like everyone else. Denny and I were the only ones in the room who had never tried Ben and Jerry's ice cream. And that was the tour. Thirty minutes, beginning to end, for a quarter cup of ice cream and the chance to buy stuff. Somehow I expected just a tad more. But the tour guide was nice, the sun was out (off and on) and the humidity was low so it was a good day to be out and about in Vermont.
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Linda in New Mexico said...

Sounds just about as much fun as a three day old helium balloon. But now you can say you were there.....once.
vert word suremona. After the tour the people were suremona the blues.

Arkansas Patti said...

Gosh, I was expecting more also when you mentioned the trip. I have never had their ice cream either.
However I do love Vermont scenery with the colorful farms.

Anonymous said...

Short and Sweet. :-) Have never tried Ben and Jerry's but I bet its good. Love ice cream!!!

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