|Softserve ice cream|
In my area, in the summer, there are suddenly lots of little places selling ice cream. Soft ice cream is the most popular, but there's plenty of hard ice cream available also. In the summer, I prefer softserve ice cream. It's a treat I can't get during the rest of the year.
I mean, I can always buy excellent hard ice cream at the grocery store. But you just can't beat the ice-cream experience of having a soft-serve cone while sitting outside on a summer day. My local place (Newt's Ice Cream) is the same place that my neighbors go. Therefore, a trip for ice cream can also be a chance for a chat.
Vermont's iconic ice cream is a hard ice cream: Ben & Jerry's. According to the Ben & Jerry's website, their "Cherry Garcia" ice cream even has a street named after it in Burlington Vermont. I can understand that. Cherry Garcia is my favorite hard ice cream.
Unilever and me
Though I love Cherry Garcia ice cream, Ben & Jerry's is not my favorite Vermont business. It's among my least favorite, really.
A few years ago, I attempted to debate Duane Peterson about Vermont Yankee. Peterson is the former major-domo (his title was "Chief of Stuff") for Ben and Jerry's. The company is part of "Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility," a group of businesses that support Governor Shumlin and supported the state's attempts to shut down Vermont Yankee.
In my encounter with Peterson, he distinguished himself by refusing to debate me at a school assembly: he insisted on a giving a separate speech. When he did speak to the students, he made fun of Entergy as a "Southern" company. He imitated a Southern accent, to get laughs. In my opinion, he behaved in a way that was both cowardly and prejudiced. But hey...I didn't actually chat with the guy. He might be an absolutely terrific human being.
Okay. I know what I think of Peterson. But I don't know what to think of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. They joined a business group fighting Vermont Yankee. On the other hand, despite the word "Vermont" all over their advertising, Ben & Jerry's is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, a Dutch-British company. It has been a subsidiary since 2000.
At this point, Unilever has continued to encourage the Vermont company's social activism. I believe they do so because quirkiness (for example, "chief of stuff") and "Vermont social responsibility" are important parts of the Ben & Jerry's brand identity. Still, Unilever is a multi-national company, like many other such companies, and it's not worth getting too exercised about their policies.
Hard Facts on Hard Ice Cream
|Hard Ice Cream|
He told me that he hadn't realized there was such a thing as "hard ice cream" until he came to America. He had enjoyed a lot of soft ice cream as a boy, but hard ice cream was not something he had encountered.
So we talked about this. For soft ice cream, you need an ice cream machine, but not much other infrastructure. You make the ice cream where people are planning to eat it. Hard ice cream is a different story. You make it a factory, and then you put it in a freezer truck which keeps the ice cream cold and delivers it to a store. Then, at the store, it is put into a big freezer. At the store, someone buys the pint of Cherry Garcia and takes it home. At home, conveniently enough, there's another freezer, waiting happily for some pints of ice cream to arrive. You need a lot of freezers to deliver a pint of hard ice cream.
In short, hard ice cream is a very energy-intensive food, at least compared to soft ice cream.
Irony, Ice Cream, and Energy
It surprises me that the local makers of hard ice cream have campaigned against the green inexpensive power supplied by Vermont Yankee. What were they thinking?
Well, okay. They weren't thinking about their product itself. They were building a "socially-conscious" brand. But I'm socially conscious, too! I have a new idea for how we might save energy in the future. We should all give up hard ice cream.
Bye-bye, Cherry Garcia!