Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day Is Today: Here's the Story Behind It

Today is Free Cone Day, a made-up holiday that's celebrated throughout the land. And why not? It's not every day a company celebrates by giving something away. But then again, Ben & Jerry's is no ordinary company. The ice-cream manufacturer is politically incorrect, satirical, and socially conscious. Its business model is a corporate nightmare. But, with it all, it has garnered a loyal fan base that includes rock stars who clamor to have an ice cream named after them (rumor has it the company turned down the Rolling Stones).

In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took their life savings of $8,000 and opened an ice-cream shop in an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont. They celebrated their one-year anniversary by giving away free ice cream. Thus, the very first Free Cone Day was born.

Now, more than 30 years later, Ben & Jerry's is no longer a small Vermont shop. It's a division of Unilever, with multiple factories and "scoop shops" around the world. But travel to Burlington and you'll soon see that the simple joy of making ice cream remains. The offices and main factory are covered in cow murals. Meeting rooms are named for ice-cream flavors, and a fully operational ice-cream parlor sells treats to employees for a dollar.

See also:
- Ben & Jerry's Free Greek Fro-Yo: You Invite the Truck

Though no longer owners, Ben & Jerry are still employees of the

company, though Jerry Greenfield says the duo "do nothing and have no


In a recent chat, Greenfield told Short Order: "Our

purpose is to have a positive impact on society. We're people based

where a lot of companies are motive based." He said that he and his

partner, Ben, were basically hippies when they started making ice cream.

"We weren't dreaming big. We just wanted to have an ice cream shop on

the corner that was affordable to people. We named the company Ben &

Jerry's because we wanted people to know there were two guys behind

it...The more caring the company has been, the

more successful we've been."

Even though Ben & Jerry's is a

division of a much larger corporation, in many ways it remains independent. The company retained the original board of directors, who

are still in charge of ice cream quality and purchasing. Its caring dairy program works with local dairy farms to ensure animals,

people, and the environment are all being treated fairly and they work

closely to source as many ingredients from fair trade participants and

small, socially responsible vendors.

And there's the sense of

humor. Walk up a hill behind the main factory and you'll come across a

graveyard filled with tombstones representing flavors that were

"killed off" for one reason or another.


Ben & Jerry's free cone day today at the scoop shop in Coral

Gables. Just walk in from noon to 8 p.m. and you'll get a free single

scoop cone in any flavor you like.

In addition, the Ben &

Jerry's Truck is in Miami for the entire month of April. They'll also be out

giving away free cones (though they haven't chosen a location for today yet). Follow them

on Twitter at @BenJerrysTruck

and use hashtag #OMGFreeBenJerrys if you want them to come to you.


truck was at New Times office at the Wynwood Building

yesterday, causing a stampede as hungry writers clamored for free Greek

frozen yogurt. Your company could be next!

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

Follow Short Order on Facebook , on Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

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