This weekend, one of my dreams came true—I got to go to tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont with my teammates on the quidditch team. The tour was the dream, not the quidditch team, but, fortunately, I like them, too. And it was everything I could have hoped for, and more.
During the wait, I was afraid that the actual experience would never live up to the anticipation, but the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour was, if even, better than the lead up. Cow related merchandise, fake spilled ice cream, free samples, educational videos, attractive cashiers—what more could I possibly want? Nothing. The answer is nothing.
We started the tour with an educational film that detailed Ben & Jerry’s history, and also outlined the production process. Because it was the weekend, no ice cream was actually in production, but we were able to view the facilities. Seeing the facilities where thousands of gallons of ice cream can be produced everyday was a borderline religious experience. At the very least, it was mild to moderately mind blowing.
After looking down on the factory floor, where giant vats of sweet cream and confections become the familiar pints of Ben & Jerry’s that can be found around the world, we moved onto the obviously most important part of the tour—free samples. On the day that we were there, the flavor of the day was Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream, which is vanilla ice cream with fudge-coated waffle cone bits and a caramel swirl. I may not like Stephen Colbert, but I loved the ice cream flavor named for him. I considered fighting an 11-year-old for a second serving, but I was thwarted by the slow reaction time befitting someone of my advanced years. 19 is apparently a little old for the Ben & Jerry’s factory, but I will do pretty much anything for free samples, so I took it in stride.
After the tour ended, we headed back to the gift shop to bask in the presence of overpriced t-shirts and goofy Ben & Jerry’s related souvenirs, one of which, a Ben & Jerry’s Euro sticker, is currently stuck to the back of my laptop, and contemplate which pints of ice cream we should buy for the long ride back to Vassar. I considered changing it up, since I can get my favorite flavor, Mint Chocolate Cookie, anywhere I want to, but the only other option that looked appealing had a chocolate ice cream base, and I cannot stand chocolate ice cream, so I stuck with the status quo. I don’t regret it, though.
Before heading home, I left my ice cream to soften up in my coat pocket while my teammates and I wandered around the Flavor Graveyard, where retired flavors requiescat in peace forevermore. My personal favorite was Tennessee Mud, retired in 1999, a boozy ice cream consisting of a coffee base, amaretto, whiskey and almond slivers. It looked like it was the perfect comfort food—it consolidated drinking the problems away with stress eating, which, come to think of it, might have been why the flavor was ultimately retired. Regardless, I still wish I had gotten to try it before its untimely demise more than a decade ago.
On the ride home, I ate my entire pint of ice cream. Beforehand, I was excited. Afterward? I could not even look at ice cream without feeling twinges of pain. I do not regret eating that tub of ice cream, but I do regret that I had no means to keep my ice cream from melting on the five hour journey back to Poughkeepsie. Toward the end of the pint I do not think I was enjoying myself anymore, but I powered through.
If I did manage to get the ice cream back to Vassar, I would have most definitely made a sundae comprised of Mint Chocolate Cookie combined with two other flavors, since we had to get two pints to get one free. I have every intention of recreating the ideal Ben & Jerry’s sundae supreme. I have it all in my head, just waiting to be made—three scoops of three different flavors, chopped truffles, hot fudge and walnuts. Obviously, everyone’s ideal sundae will be different, but I know without a second thought what my flavors would be: Mint Chocolate Cookie, Cookie Dough and Half Baked. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything that touts itself as being full of cookies.
My Ben & Jerry’s experience lived up to my expectations and so much more. My only wish is that I had found a way to make my tub survive the five hour trip back, but, then again, there are always spare dining bucks to use up, and I know that my perfect sundae will, like the tour of the factory live up to my expectations and be just that, perfect.
My Dream Sundae
Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie, Half Baked and
Cookie Dough ice cream flavors
Fresh whipped cream
Honestly, just throw everything in a bowl and eat it,
and be happy.