For any foodie, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Waterbury, Vt., is a mecca. With a tour, free samples, peek at the plant, gift shop and flavor graveyard, it’s a frozen dairy delight wonderland in the middle of New England.
When my hubby and I decided to plan a trip back to New England to visit our family, this was a must-see on our (more mine) vacation itinerary.
Everyone has their favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor. Mine is Phish Food – a glorious chocolate concoction with a marshmallow swirl and chocolate fudge fishies named for the alt-rock band, Phish. With other ingenious creations like Cherry Garcia (named after the Grateful Dead’s late Jerry Garcia), Chunky Monkey (another of my favorites) and Chubby Hubby, Ben & Jerry’s is the brainchild of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Two self-made entrepreneurs who took a love of ice cream and mixed it with a correspondence course and voila! A worldwide phenomenon was born!
Back in Vermont, you can head almost to the US/Canadian border to Waterbury. There, you’ll embark on a tour your tastebuds won’t forget. After a brief movie, you’re whisked into glass-enclosed area where you get a view-from-above of how your ice cream is made (unfortunately, no pix allowed in this area). While the Waterbury plant is no longer the only plant in the country (or even the world), it still churns out its fair share of ice cream products each year.
After the tour is where the fun starts. The ice cream sample! And yes, it’s free!
On the day of our tour, we were able to sample Cho-cow-late Chip, B&J’s version of chocolate chip and vanilla. It was creamy with loads of chocolate chips. And…you get a LOT! There’s photo opps with your tour guides and you can ask all the questions you want. Sadly, only one free sample per visitor.
The tour leads you to a small gift shop with your T-shirts, postcards, Christmas ornaments, ice cream scoops, baby bibs and loads more. If you still need more ice cream, there’s a full-service scoop shop. They have a great deal where you can sample three B&J flavors for only $3.
Outside the factory, there’s a playground for kids, a large area to enjoy your ice cream and Vermont’s breathtaking views of the Green Mountains, plus the Flavor Graveyard. Pay respects to some of the long-gone flavors that just didn’t make it with the public’s picky palates. Why pear ice cream didn’t take off is beyond me…
The B&J Factory Tour is 30 minutes. You will need to walk up stairs. However, if you’re in a wheelchair there is an elevator. The cost is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children younger than 12 are free. For more information on hours, visit the Ben & Jerry’s website.