Ben & Jerry's founder comes to Gainesville

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, scoops one of more than 30 flavors at the Ben & Jerry's on Archer Road on Friday.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 at 10:32 p.m.

While one of the founders of Ben & Jerry's met and had his picture taken with admirers of his ice cream Friday evening, one of his youngest fans was excited to meet someone else.

"I want to see the cow!," exclaimed Lauren Monk, 5, referring to the mascot that greeted visitors at the door.

Lauren, whose favorite flavor is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, was among the many people, old and young, to get a chance to meet Jerry Greenfield.

Greenfield was at the Archer Road scoop shop Friday, signing autographs, posing for pictures, even scooping ice cream for a few lucky customers.

Over 100 people turned out to see Greenfield, who said he was thrilled by the reception he received.

"It makes you warm inside," he said. "It also helps to give out free ice cream."

Every item in the store was buy one, get one free during the time Greenfield was scheduled to be there, and samples of various products were given out.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream was founded in 1978 by Greenfield and Ben Cohen, two friends who first met in seventh-grade gym class.

The two turned an abandoned gas station in Vermont into their first store.

Although he is no longer involved in the management of the company, Greenfield now serves as the president of the Ben & Jerry's Foundation and acts as a goodwill ambassador for the company.

"We try to encourage the company to be socially and environmentally responsible," said Greenfield, whose niece happens to be a student at the University of Florida.

The visit to Gainesville was the last stop in his three-day tour of Florida scoop shops, which included shops at the University of South Florida and in Sarasota.

It was his first time visiting the Archer Road store since it opened last March, said Pete Zimek, co-owner of the store.

Greenfield did visit the store on W. University Avenue and attended a football game in 2005.

The Archer Road location is one of about eight test stores carrying the company's new chocolate brand, Ben & Jerry's Chocolates - samples of which were given out to customers Friday.

The business on Archer Road has taken a hit due to the struggling economy, Zimek said, adding that he feels his location is doing fairly well, due in part to the sale of coffee.

Ice cream sales naturally decrease in winter and increase in the summer, but the opposite is true for coffee, Zimek said.

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