Thursday 7 October 2010

Day 41 – Chocolate Rain

I can’t imagine there is anybody in this world that doesn’t love ice cream, perhaps maybe the severely lactose intolerant, but nobody else could possibly turn down its yumminess...even on the rainiest of days like today. There are many companies out there that make good ice cream, but most people would probably agree the best of them all is Ben and Jerry’s. So being that we happened to be in Vermont (you know, just by chance!), we figured we’d stop by and learn how they make that frozen goodness.
About five minutes before we arrived I foolishly bet Joe there’d be nobody there on such a damp and miserable day, but it seems I’d underestimated the draw of Ben and Jerry’s – that or there really is nothing else to do in Vermont – because the place was packed!

The tour isn’t very long, barely 30 minutes, but for the bargain price of $3 you can’t really complain! You start by watching a short film about the humble beginnings of the company. In 1978 Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first store in a remodelled gas station. They had a grassroots beginning that carried through to the company’s philosophy; this was a company that cared about its consumers, its employees, the environment and corporate practices – a complete rarity in the business world. As impressive as it is as a company, I was disappointed to hear that in 2000 Ben and Jerry sold their namesake business to a conglomerate, even if that conglomerate has been keeping to most of the original beliefs.

After the video you get to see where the magic happens…unfortunately it’s not very glamorous. What factory floor is? The whole tour experience does keep with the feel of the product though, the walls are colourfully decorated and the guide is good humored…So, stolen joke time:
Q. Why do cows make good workers?
A. Because they’re always out-standing in their field!
Get it? Got it? Good!

At the end of the tour you get a sample, today’s flavour was ‘Mint Chocolate Chunk’ – Ummmm, I LOVE mint – and afterwards we took in the joys of the gift shop where you can buy almost anything you can think of in cow print. Moo.
Before saying goodbye to the home of ice cream we visited the flavor graveyard. A fitting tribute to the flavors that didn’t make it. There were some good sounding ones laid to rest, which makes you wonder why they didn’t get the fan following to save them. Although I’m not sure that Jack Daniels flavored ice cream was ever gonna work.
On the way out of the state we waved a ‘see ya later’ to the Vermont cows and a ‘nice to meet ya’ to state number 27: New Hampshire. Sadly NH didn’t give us a very friendly vibe, their motto is ‘Live Free or Die’ and they seem to have something against Obama… It was a long drive through one of the smallest states.
While there though, we made a late lunch stop at the Mount Washington Hotel. The classically styled hotel was built in 1902 and is home to a major moment in the financial history of the world. In 1944 the International Monetary Fund agreement was signed there – setting the universal Gold Standard of $35.00 an ounce (Babe Ruth also liked to golf there!).
Our time spent there was less historical for the world, but it’ll have a page in our memories for a while as the restaurant provided us with the best onion rings either of us had ever tasted. They were huge and surprisingly lacking in grease!
After Joe ‘killed’ some buffalo in the arcade we took in the great views off the hotels large back porch.

Finally, a three hour drive took us into state number 28, Maine, where all it appears to have so far is just a lot of cemeteries. We must’ve passed at least 10. Let’s hope there’s more to do in Maine than just dropping dead!

So, until tomorrow…

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