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Ben and Jerry Warm Up


Jerry Greenfield, left, and Bennett Cohen, the founders of Ben and Jerry Homemade Inc., pose in front of their “Cowmobile” in Burlington, Vt., on June 15, 1987.

In the late 70s, Ben Cohen was a rootless pottery teacher, laid off when his school closed down.  Jerry Greenfield was a diligent pre-med, realizing he was never going to get into med school.  They’d formed a deep friendship years earlier, as the two chubby kids in their middle-school gym class.  Their joint reaction to their separate crises was to open a small ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont.  That decision would change the face of the industry, and give America a model for a new set of corporate values.  At the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington — just a couple miles from the site where Cohen and Greenfield set up shop in 1978 — Alec talks to Ben and Jerry in front of a crowd that idolizes their hometown heroes, and the energy is infectious.  From their Long Island childhood to the tensions surrounding Ben & Jerry’s acquisition by Dutch conglomerate Unilever in 2000, the conversation is open, honest, and brimming with the deep bond these two men continue to feel, 40 years after they first put their names together on a sign in Vermont.  Thanks to Vermont Public Radio for making it possible.

Listen to more at the episode archive.