Monday, August 4, 2014

Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour and more!

After a fill filled weekend at Jay Peak celebrating the wedding festivities of Angela and Chandler (aka "Changela", we headed to Waterbury, Vermont to take part in some touristy attractions.

First we headed to Cold Hollow Cider Mill which is known to have amazing apple cider and the best cider donuts.  Until then, my favorite cider donuts have been from Parlee Farms in Tyngsobro, MA.

The rustic shop has a large selection of Vermont products that includes homemade jam, jellies, maple syrup and of course, CIDER! There is also a variety of souvenirs along the wall that travelers can pick up before heading back home.

Of course, I loved all the free samples!

Towards the back corner, there is a large cider dispenser where guests can get a "shot" of the sweet and aromatic cider.

Towards the front of the store, we were able to see the fresh cider donuts being made.  The batter would be poured into the hot frying oil and the hot donuts would come through the other end.

Since I LOVE hot dogs so much, how could I hot dogs steamed in cider?  There was also an assortment of toppings that were also sold at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill gift shop.

 I resisted the temptation to buy the cider Kettle corn but they looked really tasty.

We found a cute table on the outside patio where we enjoyed our delicious cider donuts.  The hot dog was blah and JUST ok.  The bread was stale.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Cider Donuts 50 cent each
Across the parking lot, there was wine tasting.  After we found out it was $ 2.00 a person, we opted out. ( I know right, we're pretty frugal!) I'd like to think that we were being socially responsible since we had a long drive home.

  1. Address: 3600 Waterbury Stowe Rd, Waterbury Center, VT 05677

About two miles down the road was Ben and Jerry's.  It's been on my "To Do" list to go on this iconic factory tour.  Upon entering the parking lot, we realized how much of a production it was.  There were parking lot attendants guiding us to a spot and families strolling all over the grounds.

The price of the tour was $ 4.00 per an adult and free for kids 12 and under.  There is a tour offered every 10 minutes but since it was a busy summer day, we had to wait 30 minutes (3 cycles) before our turn.

We kept busy and walked around the beautiful grounds.  Throughout the factory, the company's history, mission statement and values was on display.

The gift shop was extremely popular and filled with tourists picking up t-shirts and other cool souvenirs.

If guests fancied a full size ice cream treat or smoothie, there was a scoop shop on the patio.

Here is a replica of the first Ben and Jerry's truck that drove around the nation handing out free ice cream treats before it caught on fire and got incinerated.

The "kid" within us took part in the free spin art.  Apparently, I didn't follow instructions, "A little goes a long way."

There was a booth set up for people to ask questions about the company.

We headed back into the factory as it got closer to the start of our tour time.  There was a display window that had all the fun "Euphoric" Ben and Jerry flavors.

After a quick briefing, we were herded into the "Cow Over the Moon" theater where we watched a quick 7 minute video about the history and mission of Ben and Jerry's.

We had to put away our cameras once we were in the viewing mezzanine of the factory.  Our tour guide joked that one of us may work for Haagen Daaz.  Our guide wasn't and all her jokes and dialogue seemed monotonous and scripted.

After we saw how the ice cream was produced and packaged, we went into the FlavoRoom, the highlight of the tour! FREE SAMPLE!

The sample of the day was a "Special" cotton candy flavor made only for Walmart.  The generous sample of delicious cotton candy flavored ice cream had real pieces of cotton candy.

On our way back to the car, we walked by the Ben and Jerry's graveyard of discontinued flavors.  Each gravestone provided a brief history of the flavor and it's failure.  It was pretty comical.

What a fun detour! I'm not sure if I would make the 2.5 hour drive JUST for the tour but it's a full stop if you're in the area!
  1. Address: 1281 Waterbury Stowe Rd, Waterbury, VT 05676

We left Ben and Jerry's and headed a mile down the road to the Cabot Annex Store. I was really excited because I LOVE cheese and I read that they offer free cheese samples.

I was like a little kid in a candy store when I saw all the cheese sample offerings.  There were the regular classic cheddar flavors found in the local stores as well as some aged and vintage reserved blends in addition to flavors that I've never seen before.

In addition to cheese samples, there were also samples of their dips, mustard and sprinkled cheese for popcorn and other foods.

Going along with the Vermont theme, there was a display of maple syrup in one corner.  Although I consider myself a "foodie" my appreciation of local maple syrup is underwhelming.

We picked up a few blocks of cheese before heading back on the road.  Prices were decent at $ 3.99 for most of the 8 oz packages.  I'm so excited to break out the "Everything Bagel" cheddar cheese blend that is encrusted with onion, garlic and poppy seeds.
  1. Address: 2657 Waterbury Stowe Rd, Waterbury, VT 05676

Across the parking lot was Lake Champlain Chocolate retail store.   We went in for a quick peppermint chocolate sample and browsed for a couple of minutes until I realized that I couldn't afford anything in the premium all natural candy and chocolate shop. I mean come on now, a tiny peanut butter cup was $ 2.99 each! I guess I lack appreciation for good chocolate too! 

  1. Lake Champlain Chocolates
  2. Address: 2653 Waterbury Stowe Rd, Waterbury, VT 05676