Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Layoffs have rippled through Ben and Jerry’s

There are plenty of days when all I want to do is pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream, stick a spoon in it, and call it dinner. This was especially true when I was working full-time, and would roll home after an aggravating day of politicking, budget juggling, employee wrangling, and tea-leaf deciphering. If there’d been some type of all-hands meeting, during which at least one executive used advanced doublespeak to explain how we were going to sell or borrow our way out of some crisis or another, so much greater the likelihood of a sup on Ben & Jerry’s. (Or Häagen-Dazs, or Edy’s, or Breyers, or whatever caught my eye and trembling hand. But I do keep coming back to Ben & Jerry’s.)

Now, I don’t generally act on the impulse to dine on Cherry Garcia ice cream.

Instead, when I have it, I pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Fro-Yo, stick a spoon in it, and call it dinner.

Cherry Garcia, incorporates three key nutritional elements – dairy, fruit, and chocolate – so it really does constitute a meal or near-meal all on its own.

Ice cream, even when a bit de-fatted and disguised as frozen yogurt, is nigh unto the perfect food, as far as I’m concerned. And Ben & Jerry’s is pretty good ice cream, not to mention a pretty good company (socially and environmentally conscious, etc.), even if it is has been owned by Unilever for quite some time. (I try not to think about a soap company making ice cream. But when I do think about it, there was a time in my life (when I was four) when I did enjoy sucking on a sodden washcloth while in the bathtub. Not as much as I enjoyed a chocolate ice cream cone from the Cherry Bowl, mind you.)

With Ben & Jerry’s, I just get a kick out of old hippie-ish lefties making good. That they abandoned Long Island for Vermont, where their eponymous ice cream business was founded, and where their eponymous ice cream is still made, is a bonus.

Some days I, too, would like to abandon my home turf for Vermont.

If only I could cook, I could run a bed and breakfast. (Would it be okay to hand someone a tea-bag and a granola bar and wish them a good day?)

If only people bought books, other than through mail-order, I could run a bookstore. Or an old fashioned lending library.

If only I could wangle a job helping Ben & Jerry run their foundation, I’d even forgive them for restricting their grants to Vermont-only.

Because that’s okay. Because Vermont is cool.

I could live there. (It’s not every state that would elect a socialist ausländer like Bernie Sanders to the U.S. Senate.)

Alas, while I could live in Vermont, my husband couldn’t. Having been born there, and having survived a poor and hazard-filled childhood, in a poor and hazard-filled town, he has no desire whatsoever to step toe in the state. (Although I probably could convince him to do a mini-getaway to Burlington at some point.)

But we were talking ice cream, were we not? Ben & Jerry’s, in particular.

And since this is Pink Slip, we occasionally talk pink slips. Which, unfortunately, Ben & Jerry’s is now handing out to a couple of dozen workers at their Waterbury, VT, manufacturing plant. I guess, if you were a Deadhead kind of guy – which I am most decidedly not – you might say that the makers of Cherry Garcia have a little ripple in their pond.*

What’s two-dozen jobs, in the grand scheme of things?

Nothing, really, unless one of the ones being lost is yours.

The folks being let go in Waterbury can take a transfer to the “faster and more efficient” plant in St. Albans.

Which would be okay, if St. Albans weren’t a good 50 miles away from Waterbury. Which would be okay, if you were commuting into Waterbury from the direction of St. Albans. Which would be not so okay if you were already commuting into Waterbury from 50 miles away in the other direction.

Although 50 miles is a long commute by anyone’s standards – the most I ever did was 30-ish, which was plenty long enough - I would venture to say that, unless there’s rain, snow, sleet, hail, or gloom of night, driving to work in Vermont wouldn’t be bad.

Rolling hills dotted with Holstein’s, the state’s official cow. Four seasons to watch whirling by (other than on the days when there’s rain, snow, sleet, hail, or gloom of night). Picture-perfect little towns (other than the one my husband grew up in, and the ones with the ramshackle houses with the rusted trucks in the front yard).

Plus, if you work at Ben & Jerry’s, I understand you get free ice cream. So there’d always be a pint waiting for you at home after, or to spoon into during, your long commute.

Waterbury will remain the go-to place for its popular factory tours. St. Albans will produce the simpler flavors, Waterbury will handle the more complex ones.

I assume that would include their new Jimmy Fallon-inspired - yes, even Jimmy Fallon can occasionally inspire - Late Night Snack: vanilla ice cream, fudge covered potato chip clusters & a salty caramel swirl.

Never say never, but I don’t know about fudge-covered potato chips.

Wonder if Cherry Garcia is considered simple or complex?


*Ripple is a classic Grateful Dead tune. But if I know this, then I suppose everyone else on the face of the earth does. So this footnote is completely and utterly superfluous.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow

And I have no one to thank but myself, and possibly Ben and/or Jerry for naming the ice cream Cherry Garcia to begin with, for the fact that the tune to Ripple is now floating around in my brain non-stop.

Source of Ben & Jerry’s lay-off info: Boston Globe.

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