Who on earth goes to Vermont in February to eat ice cream?!?!?! Well, we did, along with 9 awesome bloggers, thanks to our new best friends at Ben & Jerry’s! They’ve just launched their brand new vegan ice cream line of 4 flavors, and we had the opportunity to experience them all at their “Non-Dairy Jamboree!”
Before we get into the “deets,” we have to send TONS of #veganlove to the B&J team (Lindsay, Sean, Kirsten, Eric, Andy, Jostein and others) who took great care of us over 3 days in Burlington. From start to finish, we were thoroughly impressed by everyone we met and the effort that went into making the vegan ice cream (correction: non-dairy frozen dessert) line. With that, we have to spread that love to Ariel, Ariella, Deion and Kerry at Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, NY (10 minutes from our home) who came up for the trip, shared their stories and gave us AHHHHHMAZING vegan brownies (coming soon to Whole Foods).
Now, it’s time to tell you about our adventures in Vermont for Ben & Jerry’s “Non-Dairy Jamboree!”
On this 3-day journey with us were:
- Cadry Nelson of Cadry’s Kitchen
- Rika & Doni of Vegan Miam
- Melissa King of My Whole Food Life
- Madeline Heising of A Graduated Kitchen (formerly The Collegiate Vegan)
- Jenne Claiborne of Sweet Potato Soul
- Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet
- Becky Striepe of Glue and Glitter
- Jane Maynard of Cool Mom Eats
We all got to enjoy what vegan awesomeness Burlington has to offer. From Hotel Vermont’s delicious food and service to making our own vegan ice cream, it was truly a memorable experience getting to meet the people behind some of our favorite blogs and being introduced to new ones…as friends!
While it didn’t really snow during our stay and temps were warmer than usual, this little winter getaway was fun without the frost. It also brought a lot of great significance to see how a mainstream brand understands compassion and the shift towards a cruelty-free food, socio-economic and political system. Without getting too deep on ideology, this trip was more than just celebrating vegan ice cream. It was about getting to know people…a brand…and a movement that we all can be a part of.
Of course, you guys want to know about the VEGAN ICE CREAM! Yes, we’re going to give our review, but you have to wait a little bit. Cool?
First, here are some of our highlights, which I think we can put into our classic Top 10 form (we’re bringing that back…we promise!)
Top Ten List: What We Loved about Our Adventures with Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont
1. Making and tasting vegan ice cream with Kirsten Schimoler & Eric Fredette, Flavor Gurus
We’ll give you our review of the 4 flavors in Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream line. In addition to those, we had one of the most awesome experiences in making our own vegan ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.
Our group was split into 4 teams; each developing our flavors in the food lab. Carmella, Jenne and Melissa made Southern Roots, inspired by summer and bourbon peach cobbler. Carlo with Cadry and Madeline made a fig and ginger flavor called Figgettaboutit! Rika, Doni and Hannah made a boubon pumpkin pie flavor called Drunken Pumpkin. Becky and Jane made a Mexican hot chocolate called Choco La Bamba.
Being in teams meant COMPETITION TIME. Each team had to pitch their flavor to Ben & Jerry’s. We all had to make a team poster representing our flavor. Carmella’s team won a special prize pack, which should be arriving soon (we’ll update this post when it arrives)
2. Walking the production floor at Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury, VT factory
We got a rare view into how ice cream is made at the factory level. We donned official uniforms (with boots) and learned about the entire process of how ice cream is made. While the Waterbury factory is not where the vegan ice cream is made, it was so cool to see it the operations first-hand! We also took the factory tour which was a lot of fun!
3. Meeting CEO Jostein Solheim and learning about Ben & Jerry’s political, socio-economic and environmental vision and mission
After a delicious breakfast a la Juniper Cafe on Day 2, we then met Jostein over a SECOND breakfast of vegan doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnuts (from Portland, OR) and coffee.
Jostein was candid and friendly in sharing the company’s vision and mission. We were personally connected with the socio-economic mission as well as the stance the company takes on voting equality and diversity.
We also learned more about the relationship Ben & Jerry’s has with its parent company, Unilever. It’s unique that Ben & Jerry’s has full control over its brand and position, while leveraging Unilever’s global resources. It’s interesting to see how Ben & Jerry can be some strong in its stance, which can be controversial to some, without kowtowing. Many of Ben & Jerry’s messages are ones that we can support and appreciate that they haven’t wavered.
4. Meeting the Greyston Bakery team
We were so happy to meet the folks at Greyston Bakery. They are New York State’s first B Corporation and Ben & Jerry’s brownie supplier for over 25 years. They do a lot of good for the local community from their open hiring practices to the Greyston Foundation. They also make delicious vegan brownies!!
We’ll have more for you on Greyston in a future post, as we’ll be visiting them in a couple of weeks for a tour!
It was all on point. The Ben & Jerry’s team really delivered on the vegan experience in and around Burlington with local eateries, featuring local products…beyond maple syrup…with a lot of skill and finesse.
Every meal we had was on point delicious, but we are both still dreaming of smoked potato soup from our first night’s dinner! O-M-G!
6. The Slide!
Ben & Jerry’s corporate offices have a CORKSCREW SLIDE, right off of the bright and fun reception area. After being greeted and getting our visitor badges, we all took turns going down the slide. Who wouldn’t want to work in a place with an indoor slide?!?!?!
7. Skating (literally) on the Flavor Graveyard
We were hoping for some snow-shoeing fun, but the temps were too warm and the snow got quite slushy in most parts. However, we were determined to see the Flavor Graveyard, where the discontinued Ben & Jerry’s flavors “rest in peace.” Where it was slushy, it was icy and a bit treacherous. Nevertheless, we got there. Carm can ice skate and she made her way, end to end.
8. Hotel Vermont with its impressive staff, service and food & drinks!
The hotel was absolutely accommodating to our needs & wishes (wool-free & down-free bedding, cruelty-free locally made soaps & lotions, etc.) They may not be vegan, but they “get” vegan and are super vegan-friendly!
We’re looking forward to visiting Burlington in the Spring. And guess where we plan to stay?!?!
9. Citizens of Vermont
Citizen Hard Cider (made in VT), whiskey, bitters, ginger simple syrup and lemon juice
Their Maple-Sage Tonic is also really good.
10. Making new friends!
Photo credit: Becky Striepe, Glue and Glitter
All the great connections we made were well worth the trip alone! We need to have a reunion…especially if Ben & Jerry’s decides to release that Southern Roots flavor (please, please, please!)
Thank you again to Ben & Jerry’s for launching a vegan ice cream line. Thank you for such a wonderful experience. Thanks for taking the step to change the world for all animals (including us humans). AND thanks for being SWEET!