“THINK ‘WILLY WONKA ’…MINUS THE OOMPA -LOOMPAS”
By Alex Idov
Summer is just around the corner…the days are growing longer and the weather is starting to grow warmer and warmer…and when the weather is warm, it’s time to break out that favorite summer treat – ice cream. Or better yet…travel to the source of one of the world’s favorite ice creams – Ben & Jerry’s.
The Ben & Jerry’s Factory is located in the beautiful countryside of Waterbury, Vermont (5 1/2 hours from the N.Y. metro area- [without traffic]) and is a ‘must-do’ summer activity for every ice cream enthusiast. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory tour is a fun and educational 30 minute guided tour around the real factory… think ‘Willy Wonka’, only minus the oompa-loompas and crazy tour guide. The price for admission is $4 for an adult, $3 for senior citizens, and kids 12 and under are free…which is pretty awesome considering that the tour includes a free scoop of the day (and a scoop of ice cream alone at a B&J shop costs around the same price).
After purchasing your tickets (and waiting in line a little while – not too long), the tour begins with meeting your tour guide who proceeds to take you to the ‘Cow over the Moon’ theatre where you are shown a short film on what makes Ben & Jerry’s, well Ben & Jerry’s. From there you go to a glass enclosed mezzanine where you look down into the actual factory where all of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the U.S. is made (no pictures allowed there, hence no pictures). Thankfully, I was at the factory on a day that there was ice cream production scheduled, so I actually got to see them packaging the ice cream, as they had already finished mixing the batch that day.
Every part of the production process is cool to watch. Of course, the most exciting part of the tour is the final visit of the guided portion of the tour – the flavo-room. In the flavoroom, you get to sample a fresh batch of ice cream (the flavor of the day I went with was mint-chocolate chip) and if you don’t care for the featured flavor, they always have a back-up option for you. Also in the flavo-room, you get to see a real Ben & Jerry’s food scientist and culinary artist developing new flavors for Ben & Jerry’s (talk about a cool job – literally). The guided portion of the tour ends there, and then you are free to explore the B&J‘s awesome gift shop and their famed flavor graveyard, where you can pay your respects to retired flavors (they have tombstones and all.)
Editor’s note: Ben & Jerry’s is under the Hashgacha (kosher supervision) of the Chof-K. The factory is located at 281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd Waterbury, VT 05676.