Jerry Greenfield

Jerry Greenfield was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951, four days before his partner, Ben Cohen. He grew up and went to school in Merrick, Long Island. It was there that he met Ben, in junior high school. Ben and Jerry both attended and graduated from Calhoun High School in Merrick.

Jerry remembers that he and Ben were two of the widest students in their school and actually came to know each other trying to run the track in gym class. They also double-dated together in Ben's convertible Camaro, complete with an 8-track cassette tape deck. Jerry graduated from high school with a National Merit Scholarship under his belt and enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio to study pre-med.

At Oberlin, Jerry got his first taste of working in the ice cream industry when he took a job as a scooper in the college cafeteria. His favorite course, however, was "Carnival Techniques," where he picked up several useful skills, including fire-swallowing. It was the sledgehammer-and-brick trick, though,that was to become a very important component at various Ben & Jerry's special events. It involved suspending Ben, aka "Habeeni-Ben-Coheeni," between 2 chairs and placing a cinder-block on his ever-rounding bare belly, whereupon a serious, pith-helmeted Jerry would raise a sledgehammer and subsequently smash the cinder-block, without harming Habeeni.

After graduating from Oberlin, Jerry applied to medical school but wasn't accepted. He worked as a lab technician in New York, performing experiments to analyze oxidative phosphorylation in beef heart mitochondria. During this time, Jerry lived with Ben in an apartment on East 10th St. After a year of mashing beef heart morsels into test tubes, Jerry reapplied to medical school and was once again rejected.

In 1974, Jerry moved to North Carolina with his wife-to-be, Elizabeth. At this time, Jerry claimed that he took his 'first retirement.' His retirement was more like a three-month sabbatical, however, after which he returned to his former profession as a lab technician.

Jerry moved back up north in 1976, and again moved in with Ben, this time in Saratoga Springs, New York. There, they decided to pursue their dream of starting a food business together. They settled on ice cream and began researching the industry. After receiving A's in a $5 Penn State correspondence course in ice cream making, they set up their Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor in Burlington, Vermont, opening in May of 1978.

Jerry made all the ice cream for the busy shop, which quickly became well known for its rich, unusual flavors and community approach to business. As the small company grew and began to add more employees, Jerry decided to accompany Elizabeth to Arizona to provide moral support as she completed a Ph. D. program.

In 1985 Jerry and Elizabeth returned to Vermont, and he rejoined the company as "Director of Mobile Promotions." During the summer of 1986, Ben and Jerry traveled across the country together in the Ben & Jerry's "Cowmobile," serving up free samples of their ice cream in what they termed, a "cross-country marketing drive." Unfortunately, the cowmobile caught fire and burned to the ground outside Cleveland; luckily neither Ben nor Jerry was hurt, but Ben was quoted in news stories across the country, claiming the burning Cowmobile "looked like a giant Baked Alaska."

Today, Jerry's official titles at the company include Vice-Chair of the Board and Director of Mobile Promotions. He often joins Ben at many speaking engagements and, along with Ben, is very active in Businesses For Social Responsibility, a group that works to promote an alternative business model based on socially responsible business practices. Incidentally, it was Jerry's idea to create the Ben & Jerry's Joy Gang: a group of employees dedicated to bringing more joy into the workplace through fun activities. He's now a sort of "Joy Pooh-Bah Emeritus," acting as a sometimes consultant to Joy Gang initiatives.

In 1987, Jerry and Elizabeth married; their son Tyrone was born in late 1988. In his spare time Jerry enjoys playing basketball and volleyball and spending time with his family and friends. He still swallows fire, but not as frequently as he used to; instead, he's taken up the martial art known as "Samurai Pint-Slicing."

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