The Sweet Reason Ben's Name Comes Before Jerry In Ben & Jerry's

Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi, and SpongeBob and Patrick are some of the most iconic duos of all time. But when it comes to the food world, there is perhaps no pair more well-known than Ben and Jerry, founders of one of the most famous ice cream brands in the world. The company came from humble beginnings: In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first ice cream shop in a former gas station in Vermont, according to The New York Times. Fast-forward 22 years and they sold their business for $326 million in 2000 (via Wired).

In a sea of ice cream brands, what makes Ben & Jerry's so successful (and delicious)? According to Time magazine, the original formula was heavy in butterfat -– which is also partly why Cold Stone's ice cream is so delicious –- and the company joined the superpremium ice cream market when it was rapidly growing. But Ben & Jerry's is also really good at forging its way into customers' hearts. As the business grew, it maintained its image as a funky, small-town ice cream shop, creating unique flavors with fun names like Chubby Hubby and sourcing its Fairtrade and non-GMO ingredients from local establishments (via Referral Candy). For example, its go-to manufacturer for cookie dough chunks is a certified B corporation, meaning it complies with ethical business practices.

It's clear that Ben & Jerry's puts a lot of heart into everything it does, and how the company got its name was no exception.

A sweet compromise

Cohen and Greenfield grew up together on Long Island, New York, and they put their heads together to form a business in their late 20s when they were both having trouble establishing careers, according to Time. The iconic Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand wasn't born instantly. In fact, the founders first experimented with making bagels, a nod to their New York roots, but realized the equipment was too expensive. They eventually decided to make the jump to ice cream, but according to former CEO Chico Lager's book, "Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop," the first shop wasn't pretty. "The insulation was soaked and the plastic had sagged down with water that had seeped through the roof," Lager wrote. "Junk was strewn everywhere."

When it came to naming the business, however, the founders had an easier time. Cohen first wanted to call it "Josephine's Flying Machine" after the Fred Fisher and Alfred Bryan song, "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine," according to PopSugar. Greenfield shut that down, but made it up to Cohen with the final name. Ben & Jerry's explains that because Greenfield was the first CEO of the company, he put Cohen's name first in the brand title. So it turns out that alphabetical order had nothing to do with the order of the founders' names, and it was really a sweet gesture between two lifelong friends.