OCTOBER 2018 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 17
ON BEN & JERRY
practices as genetic modifications
(some food activists targeted them
anyway). Backing up their beliefs
with their checkbook, they bolstered
the careers of many artists, artisans,
and other creative types.
Their antics made the news. When
Häagen-Dazs’ corporate parent at the
time, Pillsbury, blocked Ben & Jerry’s
first distribution deal, Jerry fashioned
a cheeky David-vs.-Goliath PR
campaign — “What’s the Doughboy
Afraid Of?” — that got national press.
A Time magazine cover story in 1981
proclaimed Ben & Jerry’s the best ice
cream in the world. Ben tested recipe
after recipe before concocting a new
cherry-flavored batch he named —
what else? — Cherry Garcia.
The company Ben and Jerry formed
to sell ice cream in Vermont turned
40 this spring, an anniversary the
founders celebrated with a series
of look-back presentations around
the country. They touched down in
Garden City September 12 with a rare
Long Island appearance, each spending
the day with relatives (Ben) and
old grade school classmates (Jerry)
before speaking at Adelphi University
Speaking first, Jerry related a few
stories about how he and Ben struggled
in the early years. Raising money
was a constant challenge. Jerry talked
about how their business grew, not
in spite of their support for local humanitarian
– he asserted – because
“Social justice and
giving back to the community
are baked into
Ben & Jerry’s,” he said.
Speaking next, Ben
brought Jerry’s narrative
up to date. Noting
the sale to Unilever,
he asserted the giant
corporation had succeeded
their company’s social
mission — especially
over the past five to
seven years. He quoted
the Harvard Business
Launching into the kind of
stem-winder associated with political
campaigns, Ben’s voice rose as he demanded
campaign finance reforms,
endorsed marriage equality, and
spoke out for Black Lives Matter. He
congratulated Nike for supporting
Colin Kaepernick and closed with a
sly but crystal-clear rebuke of President
“Let’s make America kind
again,” he orated.
After years of advocating
for sixties ideals, Ben and
Jerry are no longer voices
crying in the wilderness.
“People used to laugh at
us when we spoke to business
groups at programs
like this one,” Ben said to an
audience clearly on his side.
Added Jerry: “Now we’ve
The audience laughed.
On that note the program
ended. Everyone stepped
into the lobby for an
old-fashioned ice cream social.
No need to ask which
brand of ice cream was
BEN AND JERRY IN
Ben & Jerry’s Calhoun High School
classmates reflect on the famous duo.
“Jerry and I were in Honor Society
together; Bennett was yearbook editor.
We were in different cliques: I was kickline
captain whereas they did the outsider
thing, the rebellious, protest-the-Vietnamwar
thing. Both were exceptionally bright.
What they had to say was thoughtthrough
and intelligent. Bennett was more
into people’s faces than Jerry. Back then
it was hard to tell if they were destined
for greatness or destined for jail. Bennett
especially could have gone either way.”
-Tricia Mcgrath-Margas, Scotia, N.Y.
“I opened the first Ben & Jerry’s
Homemade franchise in New York State;
Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in the 1969 Calhoun High School
that was in 1983. One day Ben’s visiting
me at the store and I get a phone call.
It’s from Jerry Garcia’s lawyer with a
message for Mr. Cohen about Cherry
“Back then it was hard to tell if they were
Garcia. Ben takes the call, starts telling
the guy how much he loves Jerry and the
destined for greatness or destined for jail.”
Grateful Dead. First it’s: ‘What were you
guys thinking?’ Then: ‘You can use the
name provided you contribute to Jerry’s
charity.’ Ben says ‘yes,’ right away.” -Jeff
Ben and Jerry’s Calhoun High School classmate.
Durstewitz, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
“These are two guys who never sold
out, were always true to their core
beliefs. They want to help people, they
want justice for all and they want the
environment to be good. They want to
give back to the farmers in Vermont.
They could have started their business on
Long Island, but there are a lot more dairy
farmers in Vermont.” -Zach Albahae,
Coral Springs, Fla.
“Jerry was the kind of person who’d stick
up for his friends. He got into a fight on
the basketball court once standing up for
a smaller kid. He was well liked at school.
I’m sure Ben was too, I just didn’t know
him as well.” -Dr. Andrew Newman,
“Jerry and I shared an affinity for Motown.
We went to the Apollo to see James
Brown. We were big into Otis Redding
and Aretha Franklin, too. It was our
introduction to African-American culture;
Merrick was all white. They both became
big Grateful Dead fans. We were all
heavily invested in the counterculture
music: Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful
Dead, The Beatles. I remember Ben
trying to explain the Grateful Dead to his
parents. His mother said, ‘So, are they
happy they’re dead?’ That line became
Ben & Jerry’s is known for its quirky flavors (Photo by Besigns famous.” -Ronnie Bauch, Manhattan