EDIT - July 2, 3pm ET

Last week I did an AMA and had alotta fun, so I'm back for more! Proof: https://twitter.com/YoBenCohen/status/352092032493293568

Many of you took an interest in my Stamp Stampede campaign to stamp money out of politics, so I'm here to announce all July, in honor of the birth of the nation, it's "Pay What You Can" month at the Stamp Stampede!

Anyone, anywhere can name their own price for any of the four kinds of stamps sold on the StampStampede.org website, and I just decided to sweeten the pot: 100 people that decide to create a Stampers Pledge video will have a chance to win a free pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream!!!

At the end of July, I'll pick 100 Stampers Pledge video submissions at random and mail everyone a coupon redeemable for a free pint, any flavor.

Go here to create a pledge video for a chance to win & more details of Pay What You Can Month: http://www.thestampeders.org/

Just yesterday, Oregon became the 16th state to pass a resolution in favor of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United- the movement continues to grow and there ain't no stopping it!

Build your own movement by stamping bucks and learn more at our website: http://www.stampstampede.org/

Comments: 2370 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

gtfo-atheist-douches1875 karma

Do you think your ice cream would be as popular if you were Jen & Barry's? I've spent many a night pondering this question.

BenCohen2669 karma

Yes. Go to sleep.

Frajer1035 karma

Hey Ben I admire that your ice cream is Fair Trade whenever possible, what inspired you to be eco conscious?

BenCohen2468 karma

Just being a decent guy. Regular people don't want to screw other people and as a business, Jerry and I didn't want to screw other people. The way to not screw other people is to have your products Fair Traded and not to fuck up the environment.

nomansland333759 karma

Ben, what is your favorite flavor, cone, and topping?

BenCohen1365 karma

Cherry Garcia, handmade waffle cone, chocolate dipped. Topping - hot fudge, of course!

djblackout666 karma

Hi Ben,
I always wondered how much input the celebrities with special ice cream flavors (Americone Dream, Cherry Garcia, etc) have on the final product.

BenCohen1182 karma

Well in my day when I was developing the flavors I remember going back and forth to the Phish offices with various iterations of what we were experimenting with. So they had a bunch of input. In terms of Cherry Garcia, that was a suggestion that we got on an anonymous postcard that said "we're two deadheads and we're also Ben & Jerry's fans and think you should come up with a flavor called Cherry Garcia." They were suggesting just vanilla ice cream with chopped up cherries, I thought we had to come up with something a lot better to be worthy of His name.

It took me about two years, but we did it!

ceanders610 karma

Do you think America will ever adopt election laws similar to other countries in which money raising/spending is more strictly limited?

BenCohen910 karma

Absolutely. Why else would I be spending all my time trying to get people to stamp money to get money out of politics. The reality is that 80% of republicans and democrats want to get money out of politics and all people need to do is to make their feelings known by stamping lots of money and when a large hunk of the money in your wallet is stamped, with phrases like "Not To Be Used for Bribing Politicians," we will finally force politicians to change the law.

If you stamp it, they will change.

iBradderz574 karma

How many tubs of ice cream do you have in your freezer right now?

BenCohen1177 karma

About 15. That's in my upper freezer. In my lower freezer I've got about 30. We never know when friends are gonna drop by.

katieshineh511 karma

hello! when you came to LA i tweeted you so many times! all of my coworkers from dreamworks animation also tweeted you to come by and share your special treats with us. sadly we were ignored. we wish you had come and visited. we could have shown you our amazing campus!

BenCohen846 karma

I am truly bummed. I would have loved to come and seen your amazing campus, you guys rock. I'm not very proficient in my tweeting and I'm hoping to come see you guys next time I'm in LA and I will even bring special treats. Send me a direct message with your contact info and we'll be in touch!

gregorkafka471 karma

Have you ever tried Ice Cream Bread?

You mix self-rising flour with ice cream then bake it. It's delicious.

You should come out with a product line. I'm sure it would make you a lot of money (and now myself as well, right?)



Edit for those asking for some ratios:

1 pint of ice cream (softened up a bit so leave out for 30 min or so)

1.5 cups of self-rising flour

mix so it's like a muffin mixture consistency (just so the flour is worked in)

Bake for 50 min at 350.

This will yield what's in the pic above.

BenCohen840 karma

Ice cream bread sounds really weird to me but I did recently create an ice cream sandwich with Americone Dream ice cream on toasted english muffins, with a little Nutella spread.

cobaltcollapse322 karma

Why is it Ben and Jerry's and not Jerry and Ben's?

BenCohen808 karma

We get that question all the time. It's just because in the American language names sound better with the -eee sound at the end. There's even lots of words that don't have an -eee sound at the end, that we stick an -eee sound just to make it sound good. Think about it. Doggy. Piggy.

Anyhow, since Jerry's name came last we named him the president of the corporation.

proggR319 karma

Hey Ben. Thanks for doing an AMA.

How optimistic are you about the future openness of our governments? Do you feel technology will eventually be used more to start opening things up, or do you fear the closed nature of the government is something we're going to be stuck with for a long time? Also, what are your opinion on projects like gov.uk as outlined in this talk by David Cameron and can we expect something similar to jump the pond?

BenCohen943 karma

I think Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are incredibly courageous patriots. I believe that governments are fighting a losing battle to try to keep things so closed, keeping the people that they're supposed to be representing in the dark. I've heard it said that the introduction of computers helped to bring about the dissolution of the Soviet Union and I believe that we're only beginning to tap the power of the internet to build a force that's even greater than governments. If only we can keep the internet free and unfettered.

SirHiss315 karma

Hi Ben! Lets say alien life is discovered in space and NASA has decided to send ONE flavor of your ice cream as a token of human good will... which flavor do you nominate?

BenCohen512 karma

Gotta be Cherry Garcia

poncainajio289 karma

You should make and name an ice cream flavor after Edward Snowden.

BenCohen497 karma

Personally I think that's a great idea! I don't own the company anymore but I will bring it up to the people that run the show.

iStealthshot271 karma

Hey, thanks for doing the AMA.

I read online quite a while ago that you were originally supposed to start a bagel company. Is this true?

BenCohen569 karma

Yes. That is true! Originally it was going to be UBS. United Bagel Service. And we were going to delivery bagels and the Sunday NY Times to people in the rural college town that we wanted to locate in but then we realized that people in rural college towns in 1978 had no desire to have bagels and the NY Times delivered to their doors. We also discovered that we didn't have enough money to buy bagel equipment and we figured out that ice cream equipment would be cheaper

jedispyder251 karma

Just wanted to say I'm a huge fan of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream (my doctor would say I'm too big of a fan, sadly). I prefer your brand over others not only because of the awesome flavors but also because I agree with a lot of the and environmental and social activism that is promoted through the brand. I read that you haven't really been an active role in the B&J business since the early 2000s, do you ever miss it?

Once the ice cream business began to take off, did you ever play to try to venture into the bagel business that was the original choice?

BenCohen268 karma

I miss having Ben & Jerry's as an independent business. I don't really miss all the work I had to do. But I am still working really hard on the Stamp Stampede. We never thought about getting into the bagel business after Ben & Jerry's started but I did just enjoy a really good everything bagel on my way down to NYC.

jlwalk905241 karma

Has there ever been a flavor that you thought of that was too crazy to produce? (thanks for doing this AMA)

BenCohen467 karma

I don't really know if it was too crazy to produce but there are some flavors that don't really translate into ice cream. One of those is Tiramisu. One of the things about Tiramisu is that it is so light and airy, but you can't really get that kind of texture into ice cream. As you know, I'm very much a texture kinda guy.

Kijafa216 karma

Since Cherry Garcia is obviously your favorite flavor, what is it about Cherry Garcia that sets it apart for you?

BenCohen823 karma

Cherry Garcia was inspired by kinda an old time candy that used to be at the registers at candy stores, which you don't really see anymore, a chocolate covered, liquid center cherry. That was the inspiration for Cherry Garcia- we smashed up those candies and put them in the ice cream, but that didn't come out right. Then we tried chocolate coating candies on our own, but that didn't come out right either. Then we thought of putting the candies and the cherries in separate, and we were originally using whole cherries, but the problem is when you buy whole cherries, there's that disclaimer that there might be pits. That'd be OK if you were just eating cherries, but that's not something people wanted to find in their ice cream. We had a few people whose teeth we needed to pay to get repaired after the whole cherries, so we switched to extra large cherries that were cut in half, and those are totally pit free. But the other thing about cherries is that you need to get cherries that have a lot of snap to them - that relates to how the skin of the cherry is processed in the making. The other thing is that you need the chocolate to synergize with the cherry, you don't want the cherry to overpower to it texture wise - which you know I'm very sensitive to. And so we had to have exactly the right amount of thickness and right size to the chocolate chunk, and then we found that the chocolate was too hard when it was frozen, so we had to come up with a special formulation that was softer. So it's the combination of the large, dark sweet cherry half that has a lot of snap to it, and the low-freezing point dark, semi-sweet chocolate that sets it apart.

theKman24192 karma

I think you're doing a great thing as money in politics leads to so many problems. My question is, what is your ultimate goal from the movement? Would you like to see publicly funded elections?

BenCohen330 karma

I think publicly funded elections is a great solution to the problem. Another acceptable alternative would be to pass an amendment that says corporations are not people and money is not free speech, which would allow legislators to pass laws to limit money in politics.

Sausey22167 karma

Hi Ben! Thanks for doing this AMA today. As a Colgate University (Class of 2011) Alum, I’m curious as to what caused you to drop out. Was it something to do with Colgate as a school (class-related, student life, etc.), or was it because you had other, more lucrative opportunities elsewhere? Be honest – the student life at Colgate has always received mixed reviews. Thanks again!

BenCohen549 karma

Well I certainly didn't have more lucrative opportunities. I dropped out of Colgate because the school was too conservative for me. I knew that it was the wrong place for me when the dish room supervisor in the cafeteria required that I shave off my beard in order to work there. So I shaved a strip down the center of my beard to make it into two sideburns, but they still fired me.

bradwind6166 karma

Hey Ben-

Whenever I screw up with my girlfriend, I bring her Chunky Monkey and I am saved. Your the man!

My question: When did you realize "Holy shit, I am gonna be really successful making ice cream!" or that "this is gonna work" moment?

BenCohen281 karma

The first time I really realized that the company was going to be successful was after we had built our first ice cream plant in Waterbury, Vermont, and I was taking someone on a tour of the factory, and I looked at this huge building and I thought to myself - MY GOD! I'm an ice cream industrialist. And I realized, we probably are not going to go out of business.

fringe_event165 karma

Why did Wavy Gravy disappear and will you ever bring it back?

BenCohen295 karma

Wavy Gravy disappeared because you weren't buying enough of it! I don't think it's ever going to come back, much as I would personally like it to.

We tried, Wavy and I, to have Wavy Gravy come back as a sorbet, but not even that would pass muster with the mucky mucks.

blachsmith154 karma

I love the concept of your ice cream flavor graveyard, I think it's great to see the memory of some of those great flavors. Which flavors were you most disappointed to see laid to rest?

Also, if you could do anything differently with the company, what would it be?

BenCohen354 karma

I mourned the loss of Mocha Walnut, the first of my children to die. I mourned the loss of Coconut Almond Fudge Chip, another of my dearly beloved offspring. I also mourned for Coffee Almond Fudge, may she rest in peace. But life must go on! So I bury my sorrows in Cherry Garcia.

JewFetish125 karma

Is there a flavor you dont like?

BenCohen297 karma

Lemon peppermint carob chip

joopius95 karma

Hello Ben! You and your ice cream have been a huge part of my life. I grew up in Essex Junction, VT from age 1, 1986-1996 (born in '85). Perhaps you can elaborate a little bit more on a memory since I was so young, but did you guys used to rent out ski resorts in Vermont, set up stages, and host concerts with bands like Phish, Buddy Guy, and some local bands? I recall it being a lot of Blues, maybe some Rock. At these events, you and Jerry were among many volunteers (or paid employees, not sure) passing out Cherry Garcia popsicles, Peace Pops, and some other flavors which I can't recall right now.

My uncle, whom lived there a few years prior to our family moving to Essex, remembers going to the first Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop in downtown Burlington at an old Gas station. When did that shop close, or is it still around? I remember going to a different one downtown, but it was not the gas station. It was, however, always exciting going in there because you never knew what kind of new flavors would be in store that day. People are always interested when I tell them what it was like growing up with Ben & Jerry's being a small local thing, and just exploding after a few years. I've been to the factory several times and the one flavor I miss the most is Wavy Gravy. Thanks for doing such a great job over the years, and giving back to the community. Ben & Jerry's was, and has always been a big part of my childhood. To this day, my Wife and I still keep a pint of Phish Food in the freezer.

BenCohen134 karma

The events you are talking about are the One World, One Heart Festivals, which we used to hold at the Sugarbush Ski area in conjunction with our annual meeting when we were a public company owned by Vermonters. They were amazing free festivals that people, included myself, still long for. I was just emailing today with Terrence Simeon who used to perform there with his Zydeco band and I often long for and miss the performances by The Band. The old gas station, which was our original shop in downtown Burlington was torn down and we've relocated our Burlington shop to Church St. I was just outside the shop a few days ago taking photos of people holding up stamped dollar bills in front of their face for a vinyl wrap around our StampMobile, with faces of 60 different people holding up stamped dollar bills. Send us a photo of you doing that and maybe we can get you on the truck!

JNJ0890486 karma

I worked at an ice cream store when i was a teenager. I saw a lot of ownership changes. What do you think is a key to running a successful ice cream company?

BenCohen303 karma

Continually improving ice cream quality and treating your customers like they are your friends coming to a party that you're throwing.

Ladygirl2680 karma

Hi Ben, My family farm sold milk to Ben and Jerry's produced by our herd in northern Vermont until 2003. Why use Holstein cows in your marketing as (from my understanding) B&J really likes the high-fat milk that Jersey cows produce?

BenCohen100 karma

When you make ice cream the milk is separated from the cream, and then you add the cream and milk in separately, so it doesn't really matter whether the cream came from a cow that gives high fat milk, or low fat milk. If you understand that milk straight from the cow has about 3% butter fat, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream has about 14% butter fat, you'll understand what I mean.

Lawlicorn78 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA!New York Super Fudge Chunk is my all-time favorite ice cream flavor… Thanks for making it!

  • Wikipedia told me you have ageusia, is eating smooth ice cream enjoyable for you? What’s your favorite food?
  • What is your favorite flavor/type of ice cream/froyo/sorbert?
  • What was the hardest part about starting your own business?

Edit: formatting

BenCohen195 karma

Actually it's called anosmia and it refers to the inability to smell. I can actually smell slightly, but it is because smell is very related to taste, therefore I can't really taste things that much. Ben & Jerry's is highly flavored and it has a lot chunks because I have compensated with my anosmiacal disability with an enhanced sense of mouth feel.

Cherry Garcia

The hardest part of starting B&J was patching the holes in the roof of the old gas station with little 11x14 sheets of aluminum we got for free from the local newspaper.

Girrlkitty76 karma

How will stamping money help further your cause? Is it just to help build awareness? What other types of actions are you taking to change the laws that allow corporations to buy politicians?

BenCohen125 karma

The Stampede is just one part of a large movement to pass a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics. Many different organizations including Public Citizen, People for the American Way, Move to Amend, and Common Cause are working to pass resolutions in support of the amendment at the state and municipal levels. They are also working on getting members of the house and senate to sign on to amendment legislation. Over 120 members of congress have already.

Stamping furthers the cause because it is a petition on steroids. When you put a stamped dollar into circulation, 875 people see it as it changes hands. So if you stamp 5 bills a day for a year, that's over 1 million others will see it. That's powerful!

TSapp8546 karma

What was the impetus for you to become so involved in the fight against Citizens United?

BenCohen111 karma

Well, there were several things really - it always seemed to me that it didn't make sense that in the richest country in the world, there were so many people that didn't have enough to eat, or didn't have decent places to live, and couldn't get a decent education, or adequate health care. When I discovered that over half of the federal discretionary budget is spent on the Pentagon I realized that there's more than enough money to take care of all those needs, but we're just spending them in the wrong places. And so I founded an organization working to change national budget priorities, did that for about 10 years, and didn't get anywhere because of all the money that defense contractors pay to politicians. Then I realized the reason why the country isn't doing sensible things in regard to the environment or alternative energy, is the same - corporations are paying politicians to keep things the same.

So I always knew that the real problem was money in politics / legalized bribery, but I didn't feel like there was anything we could do about it. And then when I saw how inspired people got by the Occupy Movement, I realized that there was a possibility for people to come together and force money out of politics.

I_Reddit_At_Work41 karma

First off, thank you for all your magical ice cream creations. What has been the biggest life lesson you have learned throughout your ice cream business history and how has it related to the stamp stampede?

BenCohen92 karma

You need to focus and you need to have a lot of perseverance. Entrepreneurs are people that overcome obstacles and keep on plugging away at stuff, and also that do things in a way that's fun and creative and respects people's intelligence.

ege325 karma

Hello Ben! Thanks for taking questions. What was your inspiration for the Stamp Mobile? Did you design it? Have you ever made a Rube Goldberg machine before?

BenCohen38 karma

The inspiration was a combination of those Kinetic Ball machine sculptures that used to be at the airports and a new roller coaster ride at Coney Island. I designed it along with a guy named Alan Rorie.

Never made a Rube Goldberg machine before now.

EdYOUcateRSELF11 karma

What challenges have you run into fostering the rapid growth of B&J and remaining true to yourself. Have you ever had to make decisions that went against personal beliefs/morals but benefited the company?

I long to open up a business, and would love for it to become a large business and be able to provide happiness to both customers and employees, the idea of it turning into profit drivin business crushes me.

BenCohen38 karma

I don't think there's anything wrong with turning a profit. Turning a profit is the only way for a business to survive. The key is for the purpose of the business to provide happiness to the customer and employees, and making a reasonable profit as a means to that end. If you don't want to keep the profits, you can share them with your customers and employees, but the discipline of making a profit is what makes a business an effective way of harnessing the power of people to help solve social problems.

Aweshit4 karma

How do you feel about helping America become more obese? I'm not dogging you or anything I would really appreciate your look on this matter. Thanks.

BenCohen63 karma

Every once in a while we think about making the ice cream taste worse so that people don't eat so much, but we don't really think that would be a good service to anybody.

The reality is that is you eat too much of anything, it's not good for you. You're only supposed to replace one meal a day with ice cream.