To the New England Town That Flat-Out, Straight-Up Snubbed Ben & Jerry
Dear St. Albans, Vermont,
What’s wrong with you???
How is it that 40 years passed since Ben & Jerry built the world’s biggest ice cream sundae – and yet, when one searches “Ben & Jerry World’s Biggest Sundae Historical Marker,” there are no results within your town?
Perhaps it's because you fell victim to chronic brain freeze. Or attended one too many Phish concerts. I spoke to Ben & Jerry recently, and they seemed equally befuddled.
“They oughta have one of those brass plaques that says, ‘This Was the Site of the World’s Largest Sundae’!” exclaimed Jerry Greenfield, speaking from Ben & Jerry's headquarters in the Green Mountain State. “It ought to be memorialized!”
Regardless, the duo has fond memories of the gooey, frigid 1983 stunt that literally put their small New England business on the map.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” recalled Ben Cohen. “There was this guy, Jim Hilton, who had become the head of the recreation department for the city of St. Albans, Vermont. Which was, kind of, a little down and out at the time. It had been a railroad town, and the railroads weren’t coming through."
“He came up with this idea. He got in touch, he called me up, he said ‘Hey, I wanna make the world’s largest sundae’, and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’”
In the end, nine tons of ice cream went into The Vermonster on April 15, 1983. Cohen describes a construction process that mirrors the climax of E.T.
“It was built inside an outdoor, above-ground pool that had as special food grade liner. And then we had these people stacking up these two and a half gallon tubs that were, from head to toe, in these sterile jumpsuits. There were gobs of cherries, gobs of walnuts, hot fudge, and whipped cream. Who knows what else?”
But perhaps Greenfield sums it up best: “It was an ICE CREAM SUNDAE!” As to whether there was any hesitation, he says simply: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You gotta go for it," as does the town that hosted this once-in-a-lifetime New England event.
So how about it, St. Albans? What better time than the 40th anniversary to install that historical plaque?
Click here to listen to Ben & Jerry's interview about The 1983 Vermonster Sundae.