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Ben & Jerry's Sues Porn Company

Ben & Jerry's Sues Porn Company


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Apparently, the naughty moviemakers were ripping off Ben & Jerry's image branding and riffing off flavor names

Ben & Jerry's, of kid-friendly, super-wholesome ice cream flavors like Cherry Garcia, is suing a porn company for trademark infringement, the New York Post reports.

According to the lawsuit, Caballero Video has been hawking a "Ben & Cherry's" series of porn videos, with ice cream flavor-inspired titles. So "Cherry Garcia" became "Hairy Garcia," Boston Cream Pie became "Boston Cream Thigh," and Peanut Butter Cup inspired "Peanut Butter D-Cup." Whoever came up with these titles must have been plastered.

Video covers also reporteldy lifted design elements from ice cream containers, like the innocent white clouds, blue skies, and grazing cows. According to the lawsuit, the side-by-side comparison "evidences defendants’ blatant and outrageous copying and misappropriation of the Ben & Jerry’s intellectual property."

Naturally, Ben & Jerry's is demanding all of Caballero's profits from the Ben & Jerry's porn movies, plus asks that all the movies delivered to them "for destruction," and they are seeking compensation for unspecific damages. We imagine the folks behind Caballero are all needing a stiff drink right about now. But now we can spend the rest of the day coming up with naughty ice cream titles (Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack already has high potential for innuendo).


Ben & Jerry’s sues porn company over X-rated Ben & Cherry’s films

American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is suing a DVD porn company in a copyright row over the similar use of its name in an X-rated film series.

The US company claims the hardcore Ben & Cherry’s films have smeared its reputation by creating an association with pornography.

Ben & Jerry’s argue the DVDs, featuring titles and themes based on ‘well-known and iconic’ flavours, breaches US copyright laws, according to a complaint filed this week in Manhattan.

A range of controversial titles, including Boston Cream Thigh, New York Fat & Chunky and Peanut Butter D-Cup, have caused particular concern for the Vermont frozen treat makers.

Based on its own Boston Cream Pie, New York Super Fudge Chunk and Peanut Butter Cup flavours, Ben & Jerry’s said the film titles would likely cause ‘confusion, mistake or deception’.

The packaging of the DVDs also uses key company trademarks such as a grazing cows, green grass and large white puffy clouds, it is claimed.

Ben & Jerry’s is asking the court to stop the company, Rodax Distributors Inc, from selling and distributing the films and is also seeking unspecified damages.

Despite its objections, Ben & Jerry’s has previously used some racy names for its ice cream flavours including Schweddy Balls and Karamel Sutra.


Ben & Jerry’s sues Valley studio over sound-alike porn film titles

Caballero Video in Canoga Park, one of the area’s oldest pornography studios, sought to pay homage to Ben & Jerry’s with its X-rated “Ben & Cherry’s” flicks. The ice cream maker wasn’t impressed.

The Vermont company, known for frozen treats such as Boston Cream Pie, Peanut Butter Cups and Chocolate Fudge Brownie, sued Caballero this week in federal court alleging trademark infringement.

The DVDs, according to the filing, involve “blatant and outrageous copying and misappropriation of the Ben & Jerry’s intellectual property.” Ben & Jerry’s won a court order temporarily halting the studio from marketing and selling titles such as “Boston Cream Thighs,” “Peanut Butter D-Cups” and “Chocolate Fudge Babes.”

The DVD producer, known officially as Rodax Distributors Inc., must stop offering the 10 titles in its Ben & Cherry’s series as the case proceeds and remove all online mention of the X-rated products, according to the court order.

Caballero also was ordered to get rid of packaging that mimicked Ben & Jerry’s distinctive containers, which feature cows, grassy fields, puffy clouds and the slogan “Vermont’s Finest.” Caballero’s version incorporated similar elements as well as actresses posing seductively under the phrase “Porno’s Finest.”

Neither Caballero nor Ben & Jerry’s could be reached for comment.

Ben & Jerry’s, a subsidiary of Unilever, distributes its products around the world in supermarkets, convenience stores, Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues.

The company often plays off names and words, with flavors such as Cherry Garcia, Imagine Whirled Peace and Phish Foods.


Live Updates

Kevin Havelock, president of refreshments at Unilever, likened the takeover to a new marriage. “There was a lot of learning that had to take place,” he said. “Where there have been challenges, we’ve talked them through.”

But today, 15 years after the deal, Mr. Michalak said Ben & Jerry’s remained as mission-driven as ever, and was having a bigger impact than before because of its increased size. (Since the acquisition, Unilever has nearly tripled Ben & Jerry’s revenue and added hundreds of jobs.) And instead of watching Ben & Jerry’s simply disappear into Unilever, Mr. Michalak and his colleagues have pushed their new parent company to become a more progressive multinational.

The recipe for this amicable partnership was written into the acquisition agreement. Unilever, not wanting to squander its purchase, chose to operate Ben & Jerry’s with more autonomy than any of its other subsidiaries. To ensure middle managers did not contaminate the unique culture, Unilever established an “external board” charged with overseeing Ben & Jerry’s culture and social mission.

That board, initially comprising five longtime Ben & Jerry’s supporters, including Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield, has the authority to set aggressive new social impact targets and to push back against Unilever.

The external board still exists. According to the legally binding merger agreement, the board does not report to any authority other than itself, nominates its own members, has the right to sue Unilever and will exist in perpetuity. (Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield, who are no longer on the board, declined to comment for this column.)

Even with the external board in place, a question remained: How many of Ben & Jerry’s ambitious initiatives could a multinational like Unilever reasonably be expected to support?

The answer, it turned out, was most of them. After the initial layoffs, Unilever largely gave Ben & Jerry’s the autonomy to pursue its own agenda, so long as the ice cream kept flowing.

When Mr. Michalak took over the social mission in 2006, he worked with the external board to redouble commitments to local farmers, press for national labeling of genetically modified organisms and set even more ambitious goals for reducing energy consumption and waste.

The company now offers its lowest-paid workers more than twice the national minimum wage. According to its website, it uses only cage-free eggs. And recently, Ben & Jerry’s became a B Corporation, a voluntary certification by a nonprofit group called B Lab designating companies that uphold high social and environmental standards.

Mr. Havelock said Unilever had been inspired by Ben & Jerry’s ambitious social and environmental goals. Unilever has even thought about what it would take to become a B Corporation — a radical consideration for one of the biggest companies in the world — but believes that it’s unfeasible right now.

Protesters occasionally still descend on Ben & Jerry’s. Recently, 120 activists marched outside the flagship store in Burlington demanding better conditions for migrant workers on suppliers’ dairy farms.

But over all, Ben & Jerry’s is proceeding with its activism-infused capitalism, one pint of Chunky Monkey at a time. Indeed, Ben & Jerry’s has even rediscovered its political spirit.

The company supports marriage equality and campaign finance reform. And it recently introduced a flavor, Save Our Swirled, intended to raise awareness about climate change. The label is illustrated with cows perched atop melting icebergs, and Ben & Jerry’s is urging customers to lobby government leaders to embrace clean-energy standards.

“Even before Unilever, the company was always going to the uncomfortable edges of advocacy and activism,” Mr. Michalak said. “We are doing more now on the social mission than we ever have in the company’s history.”


Hot tubs: Ben & Jerry's sues US hardcore porn company Ben & Cherry's for smearing ice cream maker's reputation

Ben & Jerry's identified some of the X-rated names similar to its own as Boston Cream Thigh, New York Fat & Chunky and Peanut Butter D-Cup.

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Ben & Jerry's sued the maker of “Ben & Cherry's” X-rated DVDs Wednesday, saying the “hardcore pornographic” films have smeared the ice cream maker's reputation.

The trademark lawsuit in US District Court in Manhattan said the sale of hardcore and exploitive pornographic DVDs and related goods is tarnishing Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.'s name by creating an association with pornography. It said the claims arise from the distribution and sale of a series of DVDs containing "exploitative, hardcore pornographic films" featuring titles and themes based on "well-known and iconic" Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors as well as packaging that contains key company features such as a grazing cow, green grass and large white puffy clouds.

The lawsuit by the Vermont-based company said the films would likely cause "confusion, mistake or deception" regarding the company's trademarks. It identified some of the X-rated names similar to its own as "Boston Cream Thigh," ''New York Fat & Chunky" and "Peanut Butter D-Cup." Ben & Jerry's has ice cream flavors titled: "Boston Cream Pie," ''New York Super Fudge Chunk" and "Peanut Butter Cup."

For nearly 35 years, Ben & Jerry's has produced and sold ice cream, frozen confections, frozen yogurt and sorbet, building the reach of its trademarks through more than 300 Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops in the United States and another 150 shops internationally, as well as through supermarkets, drugstores, delis, ice cream cars and online, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A message left with defendants Rodax Distributors and Caballero Video at their North Hollywood, California, offices wasn't immediately returned.

Ben & Jerry's has used some racy names for its ice cream flavours including Schweddy Balls and Karamel Sutra.


Contents

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
117October 3, 2004 ( 2004-10-03 ) March 20, 2005 ( 2005-03-20 )
227September 27, 2005 ( 2005-09-27 ) May 16, 2006 ( 2006-05-16 )
324September 26, 2006 ( 2006-09-26 ) May 29, 2007 ( 2007-05-29 )
420September 25, 2007 ( 2007-09-25 ) May 21, 2008 ( 2008-05-21 )
513September 22, 2008 ( 2008-09-22 ) December 8, 2008 ( 2008-12-08 )

Season 1 (2004–05) Edit

A prominent business man who is originally a Sudanese native wants to sue the U.S. government for the lack of action taken against the mayhem happening in his country and Paul looks to Lori to take the case founding partner Shirley Schmidt arrives with a mission to bring order to the firm and while making herself known, she has to deal with Denny who does not want her there, help with Lori's extremely high profile case, and learns that she has to keep her eye on Alan Alan ends up defending a man who killed his mother by accident, or so he says.

Lori, along with Denny and Shirley, defend a school superintendent who fired three science teachers because they refused to teach creationism and is now being sued by them Alan learns his assistant has expressed concern about their work relationship Alan discovers that his client Bernard Ferrion, who killed his mother, may have killed again, and this time his neighbour Sally is fired and learns that a close associate is not too keen on lending a supportive hand Alan is surprised to see a familiar face appear – Catherine Piper (from an earlier episode of The Practice where she was a witness in Alan's hometown murder case – most noted for shaking Alans hand with "poop" on her gloves as payback for his childhood pranks).

Season 2 (2005–06) Edit

Alan, Denny and Brad represent Kelly Nolan (Heather Locklear) who is on trial for poisoning her husband Tara Wilson second-chairs for Shirley Schmidt and is shocked to find that the opposing counsel is her former lover, Malcolm Holmes (Rupert Everett) Garrett Wells and Sara Holt assist Denise Bauer on a case where a Jewish man felt violated when his Christian co-workers held Bible readings in the workplace. Making things worse, Denise is served with divorce papers.

Denny takes Alan to Nimmo Bay in British Columbia to help him get over his breakup with Tara Catherine confesses to Bernard's murder Sara and Garrett take extreme measures to help Denise challenge her husband's alimony demands in their divorce proceedings.

Denise finds herself in a difficult position when an automobile injury case she neglected for three years comes up for trial and she is unprepared while Garrett researches, he meets Cassie (Tamara Feldman), a young paralegal whose strange sexual tendencies hide a painful past Denny learns he must apologize to Lori or face a sexual harassment suit Alan takes Sara out for dinner and a "show".

After kidnapping a witness and physically assaulting a priest, Brad is put on trial and enlists the help of Denny and Shirley to bail him out Alan's hands are full with his secretary's financial troubles when her credit card company charges ridiculous interest rates putting her $50,000 in debt.

Alan and Denny defend a man charged with murder after he euthanized his wife who had Alzheimer's disease long-lost family members return when Shirley's ex-husband asks her to be "best man" at his wedding and Paul tracks down his estranged daughter (Jayne Brook).

Season 3 (2006–07) Edit

New partner Jeffrey Coho (Craig Bierko) and Denise begin to represent Scott Little, who fears he is a suspect in the murder of a Judge Denny Crane tries online dating with disastrous results Alan and new associate Claire Simms (Constance Zimmer) represent a cross-dresser (Gary Anthony Williams) who was fired for taking maternity leave.

Alan defends Denny for smuggling fat overseas to be made into fuel Clarence tries his first case with Paul and Bethany, a first degree murder where a Haitian restavec brought to America killed her employer, a man who allegedly planned to sell her child into slavery Jeffery Coho decides to leave the firm.

Alan and Denny represent two brothers accused of killing their abusive father Clarence and Jerry Espenson take on a huge gambling establishment when a woman alleges that her out-of-control gambling debts were the fault of the casino.

* Final regular appearances of Denise Bauer and Paul Lewiston

Season 4 (2007–08) Edit

Shirley is sued by Stanford University after she reneges on a $3 million donation, and she asks Alan to represent her – only to find him useless against an old flame and opposing counsel, Lorraine Weller (Saffron Burrows) Alan's problems are compounded by Judge Gloria Weldon's desire to be pregnant by him Denny is arrested for solicitation, but is more enraged to learn that his nemesis, senior partner Carl Sack (John Larroquette), has transferred to Boston to run litigation Junior associate and recent Harvard-grad Katie Lloyd tries her first case, a murder trial, with Jerry Espenson Clarence gets into hot water for entering a dance competition as Clarice.

Lorraine Weller (Saffron Burrows) is hired to work in litigation at the firm, drawing attention from both Alan and Denny Joseph Washington's trial begins, and Katie, Jerry and Alan defend him Judge Weldon awaits Alan's decision about fathering her baby.

Alan's word salad returns, but he refuses to acknowledge the cause Shirley represents Denny's friend, General "Fitz" Fitzgerald, who is threatened of being discharged from the Army after he revealed his homosexuality Whitney Rome (Taraji P. Henson) arrives at the firm from New York, and Carl assigns her and Katie to take over the custody battle over a nine-year-old bullfighter.

Alan is approached by Judge Harvey Cooper (Anthony Heald) on behalf of Concord, Massachusetts, who want him to represent them in their attempt to secede from the United States. Alan takes the case, offending Denny, who appears in court representing the United States Alan and Denny are accepted into the Coast Guard.

Season 5 (2008) Edit

Alan and Denny go up against Denise Bauer and the USDA when they represent a cattle rancher, Carol Hober (Valerie Bertinelli) who is suing the government for not allowing her to test all her livestock for Mad Cow Disease Jerry is up for partner but the panel of partners deciding his fate, including Paul Lewiston, see his social inadequacies as a problem Alan and Denny argue about politics on the eve of the election.


19 Jelly Bean Flavors That Make Us Gag, Starting With Earwax

There’s something seriously wrong with the people who make jelly beans.

Look, we’re all for trying something new, but it seems like things have gone too far when it comes to jelly bean flavors. WTF was going on at the meeting of the minds when more than one person actually agreed that making a booger-flavored candy was a good idea? Then again, there are a fair number of children who do enjoy a good booger or two &mdash so maybe, just maybe, that flavor is onto something. Still, we can’t abide most of these.

Below are the most disgusting jelly bean flavors ever.

1. Black Pepper

Part of Jelly Belly’s Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans line, this flavor is probably the least gross of the horrifying jelly bean flavors out there.

2. Booger

When chowing down on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, you do not want to bite into this salty surprise.

3. Dirt

Most of us have eaten a little dirt between falling down and being a kid, but that doesn’t mean we hope to try this Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans flavor.

4. Earthworm

Nothing about candy that tastes like gooey earthworms is OK. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans strike again.

5. Earwax

You’ll never look at your Q-tips the same way again if you end up munching on an earwax-flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean.

6. Rotten Egg

Remember the rotten egg scene in Charlotte’s Web? You’ll get to experience it for yourself &mdash right in your mouth &mdash if you land on this bad egg in a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.

7. Sausage

When enjoyed appropriately, sausage is a wonderful flavor. When condensed into a tiny jelly bean in a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, it is not OK.

8. Soap

If you made it through your entire childhood without having your mouth washed out with soap, don’t ruin the trend with a soap-flavored Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean.

9. Vomit

The less said about this Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean, the better. Try taking deep breaths through your nose to ward off the urge to gag.

10. Stinky Socks

Jelly Belly’s BeanBoozled beans trick hapless jelly bean fans into eating beans that look like normal, tasty flavors but that actually taste like disgusting things like stinky socks. Unless you’re a golden retriever, stay away from this flavor.

11. Lawn Clippings

This BeanBoozled grass flavor isn’t quite as terrible as some of the others. But fresh grass is more of a pleasant scent than a yummy flavor.

12. Toothpaste

Mint isn’t a bad flavor, but this BeanBoozled toothpaste flavor has all the chalky, medicinal grossness you’d expect from an accidental swallow of toothpaste.


When we were small: Ben & Jerry’s


1986: Jerry Greenfield (left) and Ben Cohen stand in front of the Scoopmobile in Burlington, Vermont. (Toby Talbot/AP)

Welcome to “When we were small,” our new series looking back at the small-business years of what became some of the country’s most recognizable companies. In interviews with their founders, we explore how they got started, what fueled their rise, and what challenges they faced along the way.

In the summer of 1978, two friends opened a makeshift ice cream parlor in an abandoned gas station in northern Vermont. Using a single five-gallon ice cream maker, they churned out batch after batch of wacky flavors like Chunky Monkey and Heath Bar Crunch.

In the decades that followed, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield built Ben & Jerry’s into a legendary ice crea m company, with more than 600 scoop shops in 35 countries around the world and annual sales now topping $500 million.

And to think, it all happened because one of them couldn’t get into medical school, and the other couldn’t sell enough pottery.

During a joint interview, Cohen and Greenfield took us back to the early years at the company, including their $5 investment in an ice cream-making course, the invention of their most inspiring flavor, and their epic marketing battle with the Pillsbury Doughboy. What follows is a transcript of our interview, lightly edited for clarity.

J.D. Harrison: How did you two first meet?

Ben Cohen: Jerry and I met in junior high, when he fainted in gym class. It made quite an impression on me, and we quickly became friends.

Some years later, I had dropped out of college and was trying to become a potter, but nobody wanted to buy my pottery, and Jerry had finished college and was trying to go to medical school, but nobody would let him into their medical school. So, I was delivering pottery wheels and working as a taxi driver, and he was a lab technician, working on rat brains and cow livers in a research lab, and neither of us really liked what we were doing with our lives. So we decided to try to start something together.

Harrison: Why ice cream?

Jerry Greenfield: What Ben didn’t mention was that we were both fat, dumpy kids growing up, and we liked to eat. So we knew we wanted to do something with food. We thought about a whole bunch of different types of foods — bagels, fondue, some others.

In fact, we actually priced out bagel-making equipment from a used restaurant equipment supplier, but we realized it was more money than we had between us. When we found out ice cream would be cheaper, we picked ice cream.

Harrison: How did you learn to make it?

Greenfield: We took this $5 correspondence course from Penn State. I think we actually split it, paying $2.50 a piece. They sent you a textbook in the mail, we read through the chapters, and all the tests were open book, so we actually did pretty well on those.

Harrison: Why did you open the shop in Burlington, Vermont?

Cohen: We were both 26 and we liked the idea of a rural college town that’s the environment we wanted to live in. Most of the warm towns already had homemade ice cream shops, so we started looking in Burlington because they didn’t have one yet.

Harrison: So how did you find your first location?

Cohen: We were looking for a spot that we could afford, and we came across this old, run-down, dilapidated gas station across from the city hall park that had parking where the pumps used to be. The roof had failed, though, and there was about four inches of ice on the floor inside. But you know, we went with it, because of the location.

Harrison: How did you finance the start of the business?

Cohen: We were both supposed to come up with $4,000. Jerry came up with his $4,000, and I came up with $2,000, and then I managed to get another $2,000 out of my father.

Greenfield: Then we got another $4,000 from the bank, so we started with $12,000. Our initial loan request was for $18,000, but because we had only signed a one-year lease, they didn’t think that was very prudent. So they gave us $4,000, and we had to make it work.

Harrison: So what was your next move?

Greenfield: We had to start with the roof. I mean, you could see daylight coming in through the ceiling. Ben spent many hours up there repairing it personally.

Harrison: So you’re the ice cream makers and the repairmen?

Cohen: I had to, it was in bad shape, and we were short on money. I went by the local newspaper, and they had stacks of these thin tin sheets they used to print the papers, and they would sell the stacks for 10 or 15 cents a piece. I would buy them all up and tack them onto the roof with some tar to cover up the holes.

That worked pretty well for a while, but eventually it started to leak through. So we put up this giant sheet of plastic across the top of the ceiling to catch the water. But then that started to sag. So we cut a hole where it was sagging and ran a hose to a sink in the back.

Greenfield: It wasn’t exactly elegant.

Cohen: Yeah, but it worked for a while — until the thermostat broke one day and the plastic melted. The fire department came out at that point, and we had to really fix the roof.

Harrison: What else can you remember about that first store?

Greenfield: We had high ceilings, and we had these wood stoves in the middle of the store, with chimneys going up through the roof. The colors inside were pretty muted, mostly cork and natural wood. All the bright colors in the stores today, that came later. But we did have this player piano in the shop that Ben and I had rebuilt ourselves.

In the front of the shop, we had our five-gallon, rock-salt-and-ice ice cream freezer, like one you might have in your house. It would take about a half hour to make a batch, and then Ben and I would be behind the counter scooping it.

One of the best parts was the dashers — that’s those wooden blades that spin around, and when you take them out, they always have ice cream clinging to them. Of course, at home, you would get to lick the dashers. So, we would do the same thing at the parlor and put them out for customers.

Harrison: Wait, to lick?

Greenfield: Absolutely. It was a different time, much more down-home, without all the regulations you have today.

Harrison: How did you decide on the name Ben & Jerry’s?

Cohen: I tried to be cute at first, playing around with some ideas like Josephine’s Flying Machine, based on the old-timey song. I think we talked about Grandma’s, too.

It was Jerry who said it was traditional for homemade ice cream parlors to be named after their owners, and he was right. We played around with Ben & Jerry’s, Jerry & Ben’s, and in the end, Ben & Jerry’s just rolled off the tongue a little better. So, we made Jerry the company president to make up for coming last.

Greenfield: Not really last. Second.

Cohen: Alright, that’s true. Second.

Harrison: How did you learn the ins and outs of running a business?

Greenfield: Honestly, we learned a lot from these little brochures that the Small Business Administration put out back in those days. They were 20 cents a piece, you could get them at the Post Office, and one would be about how to calculate your break-even point, another would be about how to manage your books. That was pretty much our business education.

Harrison: So what about your hiring decisions — what were you looking for when you brought on your first employees?

Greenfield: Honestly, it was completely random. We didn’t really know what we were looking for and we didn’t have any hiring skills. Sometimes it worked out, and sometimes it didn’t. Overall, though, the people we found were amazing, and some of them came up with some our best ideas. Our recipe for hot fudge, for example, basically the one we still used today, was a recipe one of our early hires brought to us.

Harrison: What was your greatest challenge in the first few years?

Greenfield: Money. We didn’t have enough of it.

Cohen: Yeah, come winter, more money was going out than was coming in, and we didn’t really have any cash reserves. We weren’t making as much money as we had hoped in the summer, either, because we were over-scooping. We couldn’t bring ourselves to scoop smaller portions, because customers wanted the big scoops.

Harrison: Is that what pushed you into the wholesale business?

Cohen: Right, we thought we could drum up some extra business by selling tubs of ice cream, which would solve both the seasonal business problem and the portion-control problem. I started by going around selling tubs to restaurants, and I was transporting them in this insulated box in the back of my station wagon — the idea being to drive around as fast as I could delivering as much ice cream as I could before it melted.

I could only hold 16 tubs in that box, though, and we started selling more than that, so we bought a really old ice cream truck with mechanic refrigeration. I drove that around for a while, but our delivery costs actually went up, because the truck kept breaking down and would have to be towed back to the garage.

Our last ditch effort was to pack it into pints and sell it to the mom-and-pop grocery stores we passed on the way to the restaurants. That’s how we got into that business.

Harrison: So was there a moment that sparked your rise to a global brand?

Greenfield: I don’t think so, it definitely didn’t happen overnight. If there was one moment to point back to, though, it was probably the invention of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream — that really captured people’s imaginations, and it came about because we had started baking homemade cookies on site along with the homemade ice cream at the store in Vermont. One day, the baker and the ice cream maker got together, and the baker said, “Why don’t you try some of this cookie dough in the ice cream?”

Harrison: Can you take me through your legendary marketing battle with Pillsbury?

Greenfield: Sure. We had just started to package ice cream and sell it to grocery stores, and Haagen-Dazs had just been acquired by Pillsbury, so they were now owned by this large conglomerate. Our company had partnered with distributors up north to start selling Ben & Jerry’s, and most of them were already carrying Haagen-Dazs.

At some point, Pillsbury came to the distributors and told them to drop Ben & Jerry’s or they would stop selling them Haagen-Dazs, which was a profitable item for these distributors. So they were going to stop selling our products. We knew that trying to sue Pillsbury, a $4 billion company, wouldn’t work, so, we decided to take our case to the people with a campaign called “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?”

We took out signs on transit buses and put an 800 number on our ice cream packaging. If customers called, they would get an answering machine message with Ben and I explaining the situation, and if they left their address on the machine, we would send them a mailing kit with a bumper sticker and they could order a “What’s the Doughboy Afraid of?” T-shirt.

It was this classic David-and-Goliath story, and it got picked up in the press, and eventually, Pillsbury backed down because they were getting so much public pressure. That’s really what permitted Ben & Jerry’s to be distributed across the country.

Harrison: Eventually, Ben & Jerry’s was sold to a large conglomerate, Unilever. How did that sale happen?

Greenfield: It’s still not completely clear to us whether the company was approached or not. Our CEO at the time said he was approached, though he had quite an interest in selling the company because he was very incentivized with stock options. So he’s probably the only guy who really knows. Once that happened, though, there were several companies that showed interest, and we got into a bidding war. Once the company was put in play, there was really no putting the lid back on the jar. Honestly, at points, it was excruciating.

Harrison: If you could go back to those small-business years and give yourself some advice, what would it be?

Greenfield: I think we could have been more selective in chasing opportunities. We just felt so much pressure to go after so many different things when we started growing — new markets, new products. It’s hard to do things well when you’re trying to do so much so quickly.

I would also put even more time into making sure we put the right people in place, too, ones who believed in our social mission but also had the necessary business skills. Those don’t always go together. And we knew that’s what would separate Ben & Jerry’s — even more than the great flavors, it was important for us to make our social mission a central part of the company.


There's New Legal Drama Around McDonald's Soft Serve Machines

McDonald's perpetually broken soft serve machines are, once again, in the limelight. After news broke in late 2020 of the increasing popularity of Kytch—a third-party device that can improve the chain's soft serve machine performance—McDonald's allegedly intervened in order to sabotage the fledgling tech company that makes it. As a result, the fast-food giant may be facing a lawsuit.

The soft serve machines had been in the headlines long before Kytch came around. The equipment, produced by a company called Taylor and known officially as the "Taylor C602," is notoriously unreliable and a regular punchline with customers on social media. Some claim it's almost impossible to get a soft serve at their local McDonald's because those ill-fated machines are "out of service" more often than not. In March, when the third federal stimulus check was disbursed, hundreds of McDonald's fans Tweeted some version of the joke that they would donate their $1,400 to repair their local Mickey D's soft serves. A year before that, McDonald's itself scored almost thirty thousand likes with a Tweet making fun of its own machines.

That was in August of 2020. But within three months, the chain's attitude seemingly shifted with news of the new third-party device, which could easily "hack" into the soft serve machine and fix it. The technology was developed by Kytch, a California-based company co-founded by engineering couple Melissa Nelson and Jeremy O'Sullivan.

Some McDonald's franchisees saw Kytch as a much-needed solution to their soft serve problems and started using the device quickly. After all, they had been waiting for a system-wide solution for years, but McDonald's never delivered on their promises. What they were left with were expensive machines whose inner-workings were inaccessible to them, unless they hired Taylor-approved distributors to perform pricey maintenance and fixes. On the other hand, Kytch basically offered user-friendly tools for diagnosing and, in some instances, preventing soft serve machine malfunctions.

The gospel of Kytch was spread far and wide among McDonald's operators when Tyler Gamble, a prominent member of the National Owners Association (the largest conference of McDonald's franchisees), endorsed it last October. After that, Kytch sold some 500 devices, with another 500 projected to be sold by the end of the year. Considering the total market for Taylor equipment solutions consists of about 13,000 McDonald's locations, the company was off to a great start.

But it all came to a halt on November 2, when McDonald's—seemingly out of nowhere—issued a franchise-wide notice discouraging store owners from installing Kytch, and advising them that the use of the device would invalidate their warranties with Taylor. The following day, a follow-up email from McDonald's announced the release of Taylor's own "Taylor Shake Sundae Connectivity"—a user-interface device similar in concept to Kytch.

A McDonald's spokesperson confirmed to Eat This, Not That! that the company did, in fact, warn their franchisees that using Kytch would invalidate their warranties, as well as pointed out potential safety risks involved. "Kytch's software includes a remote operation function, and with this feature, we believe anyone cleaning, operating, or repairing our soft serve machines (like restaurant crew members or maintenance technicians) could potentially be injured if the equipment is turned on remotely," the company said in a statement.

McDonald's also confirmed that a new proprietary "connectivity solution" is in the works, and currently being tested in several dozen locations across the country. The technology will allow restaurant managers to receive text message updates from their soft serve machines when there's a problem and provide data to help keep them running smoothly.

The makers of Kytch, however, suspect foul play—McDonald's only announced their own very similar device after Kytch had already been on the market. But the restaurant chain denies copying Kytch, stating that "For several years now, we've been exploring various opportunities to improve reliability in partnership with Taylor."

Kytch's contracts forbid McDonald's franchisees from sharing the technology with third parties. If, as Nelson and O'Sullivan believe, Taylor did manage to access a Kytch device (which the company has not denied), it would have been with the help of a McDonald's franchisee. As they revealed to Wired, the Kytch makers suspect several of their McDonald's clients have violated their contracts—including, notably, Gamble—and they plan to file lawsuits against them.

Beyond individual franchisees, O'Sullivan told the publication that Kytch intends to "hold every guilty party fully accountable," and expressed interest in bringing McDonald's and Taylor to court. What will come of the pending lawsuits remains to be seen.

For their part, McDonald's denies any wrongdoing. "There's no conspiracy here. We choose equipment and suppliers that we believe will best serve McDonald's franchisees, restaurant crew, and customers," their statement reads.

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Editor's Note: This article has been updated with comments from McDonald's.


Sorry, Rewarding Voters With Free Food Is Technically Illegal

After performing their civic duty on Election Day, millions of Americans will proudly wear their resulting “I Voted” sticker as a badge of honor — and scores of restaurants will seize the opportunity to get customers in the door by rewarding voters with discounts or free food, from Shake Shack fries to night-long happy hours.

But despite the proliferation of such promos, they’re actually against the law: The Federal Election Commission bans any kind of rewards — no matter how nonpartisan — for voting when federal candidates are on the ballot. (And restaurants offering rewards in exchange for voting for a particular candidate, such as a pho restaurant in Las Vegas that promised Trump voters a discount in 2016, are definitely thumbing their nose at the law.)

Why are giveaways illegal?

"This is a very common problem, because people believe they are doing their civic duty by encouraging other people to vote. And in many states, in elections when federal candidates are not on the ballot, this activity is perfectly legal," University of California Irvine law professor Rick Hasen previously told Politico.

Rewarding people for voting has been illegal since 1948, and it’s not hard to see why: Offering cash or goods in exchange for ballots would be a pretty clear violation of our free democracy.

Has anyone gotten caught?

Famously liberal ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s found this out the hard way in 2008 when it tried to give away free scoops to voters after being notified that it was running aground of the law, the company extended the giveaway to everyone. (Starbucks also launched — and quickly abandoned — a promo for free coffee for voters that same year.)

How do so many restaurants skirt the law?

Sometimes, it’s simply all in the wording: Some restaurants promote free food for anyone “wearing a sticker” — not just an “I Voted” sticker.

But plenty of other restaurants with less shrewd legal departments still continue to promote straightforward giveaways for people who vote each year and get away with it. Smaller, local restaurants giving away, say, free chips and salsa to voters simply aren’t likely to catch the attention of the Justice Department, and the feds have even declined to go after major corporations — letting Starbucks off with a warning, for instance — likely deeming such pursuits not worth the time or effort.

Okay, so where can I get a deal for today’s midterms?

Shake Shack: Free fries with any purchase by using the code “ivoted” on the Shack App or by showing your “I Voted” sticker during ordering.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Free cookie with purchase just ask during checkout. There’s “no requirement to vote” to receive the deal, but per Potbelly’s Twitter account, “you should.”

Corner Bakery Cafe: Free coffee (any size, cold brew included) by showing off an “I voted” sticker.

Baked by Melissa: Free cupcake to those who show an “I Voted” sticker at a retail store online orders get 10% off.

Birch Coffee: The NYC coffee chain will offer free drip coffee to anyone wearing an “I Voted” sticker.


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