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The Sweet Saga of Ben & Jerry’s Unbreakable Friendship

The Truth Behind Ben & Jerry’s Friendship

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, not only created a successful ice cream empire, but also a lifelong friendship that has stood the test of time. Their journey from childhood to business partners is an inspiring story of perseverance, friendship, and the pursuit of delicious ice cream flavors. Let’s dive into the fascinating story of Ben & Jerry’s friendship.

A childhood bond

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield first crossed paths in middle school gym class. They were both self-described slow and overweight kids, but their shared experiences brought them together. According to Entrepreneur, their friendship began one day when Jerry fainted in class. From that point on, they formed a bond that would last throughout their college years and beyond.

From college to business

After high school, Jerry attended Oberlin College to study pre-medicine. Meanwhile, Ben started college but eventually dropped out. Despite their different paths, their friendship remained strong, and they eventually decided to become roommates in New York City with the goal of starting their own business.

The bagel shop that wasn’t meant to be

Ben & Jerry’s entrepreneurial journey didn’t start with ice cream. With $8,000 in hand, they first set out to open a bagel shop. The plan was to sell bagels, lox, cream cheese and even The New York Times. However, the costs associated with bagel production proved too high, forcing them to rethink their business model.
It was during this process that the idea of making ice cream was born. Unable to afford the necessary equipment for the bagel shop, they turned their attention to ice cream production. They learned the art of making ice cream through a course offered by Penn State University and self-taught critical business skills. After much hard work, they opened their first shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont.

The birth of Ben & Jerry’s

And so Ben & Jerry’s was born. Interestingly, Ben wanted to call the company Josephine’s Flying Machine, but Jerry wasn’t convinced. Their ice cream venture took off, tantalizing taste buds with unique and delicious flavors. From Cherry Garcia to New York Super Fudge Chunk, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream became a sensation, delighting customers around the world.

A single disagreement

Throughout their friendship and business partnership, Ben and Jerry only ever had one significant argument. It was about the size of the chunks in their ice cream. Ben argued for larger chunks, believing that customers would prefer them. Jerry, on the other hand, prioritized flavor and the practicality of making the ice cream. The debate went on for weeks until the customers finally settled the issue by expressing their preference for larger chunks. It was a testament to their dedication to creating the best ice cream experience possible.

A friendship built on trust

Despite the challenges and successes they experienced along the way, Ben and Jerry’s friendship remained the foundation of their partnership. They firmly believe that prioritizing their friendship was critical to the success of their business. Their shared love of food and complementary personalities played an important role in their collaboration. Ben’s creativity and spontaneity balanced Jerry’s diplomacy and practicality, creating a dynamic partnership that has stood the test of time.

Tasting together

An interesting aspect of their friendship is the way they conduct taste tests. Ben suffers from anosmia, a condition that causes the loss of the sense of smell. As a result, when tasting ice cream flavors, Ben focuses more on texture, such as chunks and swirls, while Jerry focuses on flavor and the overall sensory experience. This unique approach ensures that their ice cream creations appeal to a variety of tastes, resulting in a well-rounded and satisfying product.

A true friendship

Ben and Jerry’s friendship transcends business. They have supported each other through thick and thin, demonstrating the true power of friendship. Greenfield recounted an incident where he fell and hit his head before a concert. Ben immediately laid down on the floor beside him, offering comfort and companionship without even asking if he needed help. It is moments like these that define the depth of their friendship and the genuine care they have for each other.
In sum, the story of Ben & Jerry’s friendship is an inspiring tale of lifelong camaraderie and unwavering support. Their journey from childhood friends to successful business partners demonstrates the power of friendship to achieve remarkable things. As we enjoy their delicious ice cream flavors, let us also appreciate the friendship that has made Ben & Jerry’s a beloved brand around the world.


How did Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield meet each other?

Ben and Jerry first met in middle school gym class, where they bonded as two of the slowest and heaviest kids in their class.

What inspired Ben & Jerry’s to start their own business?

After college, Ben and Jerry became roommates in New York City and shared a dream of starting their own business together.

Why did Ben & Jerry’s switch from a bagel shop to ice cream?

The original plan to open a bagel shop proved too expensive, so Ben and Jerry switched to ice cream after realizing they couldn’t afford the equipment needed for the bagel business.

Did Ben and Jerry ever have any disagreements?

While they had a close friendship, Ben and Jerry did have one notable argument over the size of the chunks in their ice cream. Ultimately, they let customer preference settle the debate.

How did Ben & Jerry’s friendship contribute to their business success?

Ben and Jerry’s strong friendship served as the foundation for their successful business partnership. They complemented each other’s strengths and balanced creativity with practicality, resulting in unique and delicious ice cream flavors.

What is unique about Ben and Jerry’s approach to taste testing?

Ben’s anosmia (loss of smell) led to a focus on texture, while Jerry focused on taste. This unique approach ensured that their ice cream appealed to a wide range of tastes.

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