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Ben & Jerry’s is an American ice cream company, a division of the British-Dutch Unilever conglomerate, that manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream novelty products, manufactured by Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc., headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont, United States, with the main factory in Waterbury. It is best known as an ice cream brand, founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont.In 1977 lifelong friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery. On May 5, 1978, with a $12,000 investment the pair opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont. In 1979, they marked their anniversary by holding the first-ever free cone day, now a nationwide annual celebration.
In 1980, Ben and Jerry rented space in an old spool and bobbin mill on South Champlain Street in Burlington and began packing their ice cream in pints. In 1981, the first Ben & Jerry’s franchise opened on Route 7 in Shelburne, Vermont. In 1983, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was used to build “the world’s largest ice cream sundae” in St. Albans (city), Vermont; the sundae weighed 27,102 pounds. In 1984, Häagen-Dazs tried to limit distribution of Ben & Jerry’s in Boston, prompting Ben & Jerry’s to file suit against the parent company, Pillsbury, in its now famous “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” campaign. In 1987, Häagen-Dazs again tried to enforce exclusive distribution, and Ben & Jerry’s filed its second lawsuit against the Pillsbury Company. In 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation was established at the end of the year with a gift from Ben & Jerry’s to fund community-oriented projects; it was then provided with 7.5% of the company’s annual pre-tax profits. In 1986, Ben & Jerry’s launched its “Cowmobile”, a modified mobile home used to distribute free scoops of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in a unique, cross-country “marketing drive”—driven and served by Ben and Jerry themselves. The “Cowmobile” burned to the ground outside of Cleveland four months later, but there were no injuries. Ben said it looked like “the world’s largest baked Alaska.”In 1988, the pair won the title of U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year, awarded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Also this year, the first brownies were ordered from Greyston Bakery, which led to the development of the popular Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor.