Longtime friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first ice cream scoop shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont after taking a $5 ice cream-making course from Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery. Then, by 1980 they rented another space in Burlington to start packaging their ice cream in pints with the intent of distributing to grocery and local stores. The following year, the demand for their ice cream continued to rise, so they opened their first franchised scoop shop in Shelburne, Vermont. By the ‘90s, Ben & Jerry’s had become a successful business, earning them the “U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year” award from President Reagan.
Before Ben and Jerry became these ice cream giants that they are now, they were typical boys growing up in Queens, New York, “We were the two slowest, fattest kids in gym class. There was the whole class running around the track, and then half a lap behind there were two guys. So we were connected from the beginning.” In addition to going door-to-door asking neighbors if they’d invest in their ice cream company, Ben and Jerry were the town marijuana dealers. Music producer Justin Nealis recalls growing up with them in the same town, “Ben and Jerry, the ice cream guys, they were like weed dealers in high school… But they were crazy entrepreneurs and crazy stoners and just started fuckin' with making ice cream in their crib!” Then years later, when they were asked if they’d ever incorporate cannabis into their ice cream, Jerry confirmed their history, “Ben and I have had previous experiences, you know, with substances and you know, I think legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing, rather than putting people in jail for not hurting anybody else.” They even have some flavors that sound cannabis-infused including “Half Baked”, “Satisfy my Bowl”, and “Late Night Snack”, so maybe cannabis-infused Ben & Jerry’s isn’t so far off.