Ben & Jerry's Got Its Start In An Unexpected Location

Though Ben & Jerry's ice cream is now one of the most well-known ice cream brands, the business had pretty simple beginnings. According to the company's website, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield first crossed paths in seventh grade, remained friends, and first tried their luck selling bagels. "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," Greenfield told Washington Post. "When we found out ice cream would be cheaper, we picked ice cream."

With only $12,000 between them to invest in their business, the duo opened their first ice cream shop in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont. As Cohen explained, the friends thought the area was perfect for an ice cream shop because it was a college town and didn't have an existing ice cream parlor for students to order scoops, cones, and other sweet treats.

Early undertakings with big results

In "Ben & Jerry's: the Inside Scoop," Chico Lager explains the first location was situated inside an old gas station that didn't have heat, and the unfinished ceiling sagged with water that leaked from the roof to the insulation (via Ben & Jerry's). "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," Cohen told the Washington Post. He remembers there were inches of ice on the floor, but it didn't matter; the location was perfect.

The entrepreneurs separated spaces with a stud wall and renovated kitchen and serving areas so customers could enter and order from ice cream cases. By 1987, Time reports, Ben & Jerry's had grown into a $30 million-dollar business, and the ice cream was sold in 35 states. By 2014, it could be found in 35 countries, and ice cream enthusiasts could order fun Ben & Jerry's flavors from more than 600 stores worldwide, helping the business collect over $500 million in yearly sales (per Washington Post). Not bad at all for two guys who started selling scoops out of a renovated gas station.