A couple of days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted an image of Ben & Jerry's new ice-cream flavor, Hubby Hubby, on her wall. Hubby Hubby is a temporary name change of the flavor which is usually called Chubby Hubby, and will be in place throughout the month of September 2009 to celebrate legalisation of gay marriage in the state of Vermont, USA. This step is quite in line with the brand's previous involvement in social activism, and has resulted in a wave of controversial comments on Ben & Jerry's Facebook fan page.
Burlington, Vermont is the home of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream.
My Facebook friend's wall post actually made me travel back in time.
It's August 1994. I am a young student from Latvia, who is sitting on a bus together with a jolly bunch of other "post-Soviets" who have just arrived in Middlebury College, Vermont for a week of crash course on all things American. Together with them, I am a lucky participant of the exchange program between the US and former Soviet Union, called American Colleagiate Consortium. After a week at Middlebury, I will hop on a bus and travel to a tiny town in Massachusetts, Norton, where I'll spend a year at Wheaton College. It's my first time ever abroad.
The bus is bringing us somewhere near Burlington, where apparently there is an ice-cream factory of something called Ben & Jerry's. We're full of hope that the ice-cream trip will be a beginning of our challenging and yet wonderful journey in the US.
I don't actually remember that much of the factory visit. I do remember tasting different ice-cream flavors, amazed that such heavenly ice-cream, made by such friendly people, could even exist! I think I was too much overwhelmed by new experiences, faces, and even the language that I didn't at the time speak that well (it was only a literary writing course at Wheaton that improved the latter!) to remember the details.
But what clearly remains in my memory is the fact that Ben & Jerry was the FIRST ever American brand that I encountered. And because the visit of the ice-cream factory corresponded with a beginning of hugely positive developments in my life, I can say that for me personally, Ben & Jerry's is probably the ultimate funky brand.
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