Ben & Jerry’s is interesting because it zigs when most other companies zag. You might think that an ice cream business based in Vermont would just forget about selling in the winter. But they never have, and on February 28, 2015, they’ll zig at their thirteenth annual Winterfest.
The festival, at the factory in Waterbury, Vermont, will feature free tours of the plant, booths from local food companies, snow sculptures, a DJ, the author of Ice Cream Social signing and selling books, and more. It’s the latest effort in the company’s 35-year campaign to sell frozen dessert in a climate where, for several months, everything outdoors is frozen. In his entertaining book about the early years, Ben & Jerry’s: The Inside Scoop, Chico Lager (the company’s first president) remembers a campaign from the late 1970s:
“As expected, the colder it got [on Vermont], the less and less ice cream they sold. As an incentive to get people into the shop on the really cold days, they ran the POPCDBZWE (pronounced “pop si biz we”) promotion, which stood for “Penny Off Per Celsius Degree Below Zero Winter Extravaganza.” POPCDBZWE became one of the most written about promotions that the company ever did, but converting Fahrenheit to Celsius drove the scoopers nuts, and the incentive of a few cents off wasn’t enough to increase traffic all that much.
“As an alternative to POPCDBZWE, which focused people on how cold it was, Ben next tried to promote winter ice cream sales by putting forth his First Law of Ice Cream Eating Dynamics, which held that the reason you got cold in the winter was the difference between your internal temperature and the external temperature. If you bought into it, you realized that you could warm up on a really cold day by eating lots of ice cream, thereby lowering your internal temperature a few degrees. Ben professed this theory to all who would listen, but he was preaching to the converted who had already wandered in for a scoop in spite of the cold, and his breakthrough in thermal physics yielded no tangible increase in sales.”
Hope to see you at Winterfest!