Ice cream maker talks business, shares ice cream

Alyssa Zelwick, a first-year student at Penn State York, gathers a group of students for a selfie with Jerry Greenfiled, of Ben & Jerry's ice cream fame, after a meet and greet session on campus. Credit: Barbara Dennis / Penn StateCreative Commons

More than 450 members of the campus and local community gathered to hear Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., at Penn State York’s Pullo Family Performing Arts Center (The Pullo Center) on Oct. 21.

Greenfield shared the story about how he and Ben Cohen decided to go into business together. After very little research, the pair decided that ice cream, rather than bagels, would be their product of choice. Little did they know they would create a business that would become one of the most talked about and least conventional success stories in American business.

A $5 Penn State correspondence course in ice cream making, which they split, changed the lives of Greenfield and Cohen. Greenfield shares the ups and downs of starting a company and reminded the crowd to stick to their beliefs, even in business.

The ice cream makers have a special connection to the local community; one of their popular ice cream flavors, Chubby Hubby, has its roots in York. Two women from York, Pennsylvania, came up with the idea for Chubby Hubby ice cream. Wendy Gohn and Theresa Pratt, who worked for Precision Custom Components at the time, dreamed up the chocolate and pretzel-filled flavor as a practical joke on a co-worker Tom Santacroce, who loved the Ben & Jerry’s flavor Rain Forest Crunch. When he couldn’t find their creation in stores, they made up a batch of the fictional flavor, Chubby Hubby, for him for Christmas.

Ben Cohen had a taste of the homemade flavor when he spoke in York in 1992 and two years later, Gohn received a message from the marketing director at Ben & Jerry’s about making the flavor. The new flavor was unveiled in March 1995 in York, complete with a parade down Market Street. The duo came back in September of the same year to serve as the grand marshals for the Harley-Davidson night parade.

Greenfield was a hit at Penn State York, posing for selfies with students, giving plenty of hugs, and sharing ice cream. To view photos from the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152754708280590.1073741972.88848090589

Later in the evening on Oct. 21, Greenfield was the featured speaker to more than 200 guests at a sold-out wine-and-dine fund-raising event to benefit the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies. The leadership program provides an opportunity for Penn State York to partner with industry and help prepare students for jobs once they graduate. His evening presentation was part of the Graham Program’s speakers series. To learn more about this program, visit www.yk.psu.edu/grahamcenter

Last Updated October 24, 2014