“What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?” Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream might not exist today if that question had never been asked. Find out how some guerilla marketing and relentless campaigning saved Vermont’s finest from national obscurity.
Reuben Mattus was a Polish immigrant. He was 47 when he decided to start his own ice cream company with his wife, Rose Mattus. They called it Häagen-Dazs, which as you may already know, means absolutely nothing. It’s two made-up words meant to look Scandinavian.
I probably don’t need to tell you that Häagen-Dazs was a huge success. In 1983, Häagen-Dazs was sold to the Pillsbury company for 70 million dollars.
Let’s go back five years from that, to 1978 in Burlington, Vermont. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, “a couple of hippies,” as they have described themselves, took a twelve thousand dollar investment– four thousand of it borrowed– and opened an ice cream scoop shop in a renovated gas station. They called it Ben & Jerry’s, and within a few short years, it became a staple of Burlington, Vermont. They opened their first franchise in 1981, and in 1983, the same year Pillsbury bought up Häagen-Dazs for eight figures, Ben & Jerry’s opened their first out-of-state franchise. Within a year, the two companies would be, more or less, at each others throats.