Ben & Jerry's is a brand of ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet products headquartered in South Burlington, Vermont. It is now owned by Unilever. In 1978, lifelong ex-hippie friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. The parlor quickly became popular in the local community because of their innovative flavors, made from fresh Vermont milk and cream and “large portions of whatever ingredients they felt tasted good on the day of making.” They combined ice cream making with social activism, supporting various charitable organizations.
In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's announced its acquisition by multinational food giant Unilever. Although the founders are still engaged with the company, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company
Ben Cohen (1951- ), son of Frances and Irving Cohen, met Jerry Greenfield (1951- ) in 1963 in gym class and they became close friends in high school. Together, they almost opened a bagel shop, but due to the high cost of the equipment that was needed, they chose ice cream instead. Cohen now runs TrueMajority and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, and is vocal in his support of Democratic candidates. He supported Dennis Kucinich in the 2004 Democratic primaries. Ben underwent a quintuple bypass in 2001 to clear blocked arteries. Cohen was 49 years old at the time.
Jerry Greenfield graduated from Oberlin College, where he followed a pre-med curriculum. He applied unsuccessfully for medical-school in two successive years. He is married to Elizabeth Skarie and has one son, Tyrone. He currently lives in Williston, Vermont. Both Greenfield and Cohen are Jewish.
In February 2016 Ben and Jerry's announced a line of vegan, dairy-free products to cater to their lactose intolerant customers. Seventy-five percent of Jews posess the lactose intolerant gene, according to the National Institutes of Health.