Jerry Greenfield delivers the keynote speech at the Grinnell Prize Symposium in November 2012.
Credit: Blur MediaWorks
>>SARAH PURCELL: So it is my real privilege to introduce Jerry Greenfield this afternoon. I first met Jerry when he was here for the commencement of his son Tyrone Greenfield who was a Grinnellian from the class of 2011 and I was lucky to have Tyrone in class and I was pleased to meet Jerry and I knew that we just had to find the right opportunity to invite him to come back to campus and inspire us all with his great vision and enthusiasm and what better opportunity than the Grinnell Prize Symposium. The keynote for this symposium is intended to be a kind of matched set with our Prize winners. The Grinnell Prize honors people under the age of 40 who have made great strides for social justice and social change and then the idea of the keynote is to have someone who is a master figure in social justice who has made a longer lifelong contribution to social change and Jerry very naturally came to mind.
You all know him probably of course as one of the co-founders of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. He met his friend Ben Cohen in junior high school actually so and they started Ben and Jerry's after Jerry had graduated from Oberlin College and they started their first ice cream store in a refurbished gas station in Burlington, Vermont in the spring of 1978. And their product was such an immediate hit that they began to sell ice cream out of Jerry's car and kind of driving around as an itinerant ice cream business and very soon afterwards they began to franchise Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and the rest is kind of business history in the later 20th and early 21st century.
But from the beginning focused their business or part of their business on having philanthropic and social mission with a portion of the profits of Ben and Jerry's always being donated to the Ben and Jerry's foundation, which has participated in many many good works, many kinds of projects for social justice and progress in the United States. And they also are committed to things like fair trade and honest sourcing of goods for the ice cream. In 2000, they sold the company Ben and Jerry's to Unilever and they've been very touted for part of the agreement with Unilever was that they would continue to donate part of the profits to the foundation to continue their good work and Jerry in particular has also continued to have a hands-on role with the company since that time.
Jerry Greenfield personally, even aside from the company, has really been quite a humanitarian and a real source of social justice in the United States and other parts of the world, he's won a lot of recognition for those efforts including a James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award and the Peace Museum's Community Peacemeaker of the Year Award and we're always proud to claim him as a Grinnell parent, but today we're here to hear his inspiration and how he can help the social justice prize winners and all of us to be inspired. You've already had part of his talk, but he's here for "An Afternoon of Social Responsibility, Radical Business Philosophy, and Free Ice Cream," so please welcome Jerry Greenfield.
Well, nice to see you all. How's everybody doing? Thanks for coming. I'm really honored to be here particularly as part of this symposium and I'm only sorry that I didn't get here earlier to listen to the prizewinners earlier today, but I'm going to speak with them later
>>AUDIENCE MEMBER: Your microphone is not working now, so speak up or I'll come fix it.
>>JERRY GREENFIELD: What should I do? Just talk louder right? [laughter] Yeah. Talk louder, I can do that. Yeah, right, this is better. Nice to see you all here anyway isn't it? Alright, well, so. I'm going to talk about Ben and Jerry's, how we started, how we tried to operate the company. You many notice Ben is not here so, I'll be able to tell some really good stories about Ben. Sarah also mentioned that Ben and Jerry's is no longer an independent company. It got bought in 2000 by this company Unilever, which most people haven't heard in this country. Unilever is this international company has brands like Ragu spaghetti sauce and Wishbone salad dressing. They have a very good sense of humor, on the same day they bought Ben and Jerry's, they also bought Slimfast.
So, can you guys hear me okay in the back or should I talk louder, because I can do louder too. No problem, so, and selling the company was not something we wanted to do. It was nothing about Unilever, we wanted to remain an independent company, but Ben and Jerry's was a public company at the time, and Unilever essentially offered so much money that the Board of [woo]... That's better? Thank you. That the board of directors could not find an alternative to having the company be sold. So Ben and I both still work at the company, unknown to Sarah, we actually are not involved at all in the operations or the management, which really kind of begs the question what do we do if you're not involved in management or operations [laughter]. And, even though I'm here before you, I'm not an official spokesperson for the company, it's pretty bizarre isn't it? So, after 30 years, Ben and I have achieved jobs where we have no responsibility and also no authority. So, something you all can strive for in your careers out there. So if you like what's going on at Ben and Jerry's you don't get to thank us, but if you don't like what's going on you don't get to blame us either.
So, Ben and I are old friends, we met in junior high school in Long Island where we were growing up, we met in 7th grade in gym class because we were the two slowest, fattest kids in the class, and we were running around the track together, you know there was this pack of kids in the front and then there was me and Ben in the back, coach was yelling at us, "Gentlemen. You've got to run the mile in under 7 minutes if you don't you're going to have to do it again." And Ben would yell back at the coach, "Gee coach, if I don't do it in under seven minutes the first time, I'm certainly not going to do it in under 7 minutes the second time." That was when I realized that Ben was somebody I wanted to know.
We went through junior high school and high school together, it came time to go to college, Ben did not want to go to college, but his parents wanted him to go. His father and his older sister filled out his applications for him. He selected Colgate in upstate New York because the brochure said they had fireplaces in the dorm rooms and Ben thought that was really cool. So, he went there for a year and a half and he dropped out of school, he went to NYU for a while, dropped out of there, he went to Skidmore College for a while, he dropped out of there, and then Ben signed up with one of these really progressive college programs called University Without Walls. So, at University Without Walls—this is even better than Grinnell—at University without Walls, you don't have to go to class because the world is your campus. And you don't have to take tests because you get credit for learning, and Ben dropped out of there too. [laughter]. Still a little too much structure for Ben.
I on the other hand went to Oberlin College, as Sarah mentioned. I did four years straight, I was pre-med, I graduated. I applied to 20 med schools, I got rejected by 20 medical schools. I got a job as a lab technician in a biochemistry research lab so that I could fortify my resume, and I reapplied to another 20 medical schools, I got rejected from those 20 medical schools and then I got another job as a lab technician in a biochemistry research lab because I already had experience. So that's what Ben and I did, we were essentially failing at everything we were trying to do and we thought why don't we get together and do something fun and be our own bosses and since we liked to eat quite a bit, we thought we would do something with food.
We picked Ice Cream, didn't know anything about it. We learned how to make ice cream from a 5 dollar correspondence course from Penn State University, we were really broke at the time, so we split one course between us, $2.50 a piece. We got a one-hundred on all of our open book tests, and so we figured we were ready to make ice cream. Then we needed to find a place to open up.
You know, we want to live in a college town because college kids eat a lot of ice cream; we didn't want to be in a big city, so a rural college tow. And then we thought it would be good if it were warm. We're going to sell ice cream, whatever. We did this extensive research project, this is how old Ben and I are, this was before personal computers, so we did a manual cross correlation, we had Ben looking through the American guide to colleges on the one hand, and I was looking through the Atlas and the Almanac looking up all of the mean and median temperatures, and we merged these two lists together and determined all of the warm rural college towns already had ice cream parlors.
So, we discarded the idea of warm and we picked Burlington, Vermont beautiful place, home of the university of Vermont, its about an hour south of the Canadian border, and it was so cold all of the time there were no other ice cream parlors there We thought we would be better off in a place with no competition since we had no idea what we were doing.
So we moved to Burlington, and then we needed to raise some money. Ben and I had both saved 4,000 dollars, we had 8,000 dollars, and we were going to go to the local bank to borrow some money and as we thought about it, we realized the local bank might not be that excited about lending us money. Because we were young (we were 26), we had just moved to Vermont so we didn't have any real stability there, we weren't married, we didn't have families, so we, who knows what we seemed like. We didn't have any job experience, we didn't have any business experience, we didn't have any ice cream experience, we didn't have any assets, we didn't have any collateral. So we thought, alright, if we're going to go into a bank, we need to put together a really good business plan, and that will convince the bank that we're really serious about what we're going. But we didn't know how to write a business plan.
We have a friend Jeff Fernman, who used to work for the small business administration in New York City, and Jeff got us a copy of a business plan that was from a pizza parlor in New York and what Ben and I did was we copied the business plan, except every place where it said slice of pizza, we crossed it out and we wrote in ice cream cone and we submitted it into the bank with a loan request for 18,000 dollars. The bank intern, resubmitted the proposal back to the small business administration, to see if they could get what was called an SB guaranteed loan. If the SBA would guarantee the loan, the bank would be at no risk. So they send it to the SBA and the SBA approved the loan proposal again, apparently they really liked this business plan, but they approved it conditional on us finding a location that they thought would be suitable.
So we looked all around Burlington, and the place we fell in love with was this old, abandoned gas station as Sarah mentioned. It was one block off the main street in town, it was right across the street from a park, but we could only get a one year lease on the building, and the SBA thought that it didn't make sense to lend us money over a 7-year period if we only had a one year lease on a building. I guess that makes sense, right? So we didn't get the money, we went back to the bank, and they gave us 4,000 dollars to go with our 8,000 dollars so that gave us 12,000 dollars try to open up this ice cream parlor.
Because we didn't have all of the money we needed to make a few adjustments to the business plan. We bought all used equipment, the ice cream machine we bought was a used 5 gallon, rock salt and ice ice cream machine, which is kind of like a homemade ice cream machine, only it made 5 gallons at a time and it had a motor on it, so that was really good. We opened up in May of 1978. You guys were not alive in 1978 were you[laughter], but let me tell you it was a beautiful summer, we were making ice cream, we were scooping ice cream, everything was fabulous. On a good day, we could make about ten batches of ice cream, that was it.
And then the winter came, it was minus 20 degrees outside, sure enough people stopped buying ice cream cones. We even came up with what I think was the best promotion in the history of Ben and Jerry's. It was called popcdbzwe, which stood for Penny Off per Celsius degree below zero winter extravaganza [laughter]. So the way this worked was when the temperature got below freezing, 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but zero degrees Celsius, we started taking money off the price of an ice cream cone and the colder it got, the more money we took off the price of a cone, but not even that was enough to get people in the door. We got through the winter by selling ice cream to some of the local restaurants that had been asking for it.
The next summer came, another beautiful summer making ice cream, scooping ice cream everything was great. Winter came, couldn't figure what to do, it was then that we decided to use Ben's car, it was Ben who became the salesperson from Ben and Jerry's. I give you, sorry about all of these digressions, but we always had these sales people that would stop into our shop and they would sell us things like chocolate syrup or napkins or whatever, and Ben thought, "boy these sales people have a great job, they drive around in their cars and listen to music on these great sound systems and then they stop into a store and sell them a few things but then they get back into their car and they drive around and listen to some music some more. You know, Ben and I spent a lot of time driving around in our car.
So, Ben had this old station wagon and we built an insulated Styrofoam box that fit in the station wagon compartment, put a really nice sound system into his car and in the morning we would fill up this Styrofoam box with tubs of ice cream and then Ben would drive around Vermont as fast as he could trying to sell this ice cream to restaurants around Vermont before it melted and that's how we got through the next winter.
Eventually we started selling more ice cream than fit in the back of Ben's car, we bought an old, really old ice cream delivery truck with about 250,000 miles on it. Ben became our truck driver, put a really nice sound system into the truck, and Ben was driving around Vermont, delivering ice cream to restaurants, and the truck was just breaking down all over the place and it was costing us more money to repair the truck than we were making selling ice cream.
Ben had another idea, he thought if we could package the ice cream into pint containers, that way he could sell it to all these mom and pop grocery stores that he was passing by as he was going from one restaurant to another. So Ben started doing that and he got us, oh, I don't know, 30 accounts in a month and 50 accounts after that and that's how Ben and Jerry's stumbled into the ice cream manufacturing and distribution business. And we got a couple of other local ice cream distributers to start delivering Ben and Jerry's, one in upstate New York, one in New Hampshire. And then we got a really big break, we got a couple of really big ice cream distributers, one in Boston and one in Connecticut to start carrying Ben and Jerry's.
It was the first time we were going to be selling ice cream in major markets where we were not the guys next door, so it was a big challenge, and very soon after these distributers started carrying Ben and Jerry's, we got this urgent phone call from them one day. They called us up, they said listen, we need to talk, we can't do it over the phone, we need to meet somewhere really private. So we decided to meet in a dark corner of a restaurant at Logan Airport in Boston. So we sit down with these two distributers, they said we have some really bad news. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, which had just been bought by the Pillsbury corporation, had come to them and told them that if they continued to carry Ben and Jerry's on their trucks, they weren't going to sell them Häagen-Dazsanymore. And as these distributers told us, we like you guys, we like your ice cream, but Häagen-Dazsis the most profitable item we carry on our tucks, and we can't afford to be without it, so we're going to have to drop your product.
So they told us this, Ben started laughing, he thought this was hilarious [laughter]. They said, "Ben this is really serious, why are you laughing?" "I can't believe that Häagen-Dazsis worried about little old Ben and Jerry's in Burlington, Vermont. But they were and it was a problem. First of all it seemed that what they were doing was illegal. That it was a restraint of trade under federal anti-trust law, which says that a company that controls a major part of the market can't use its power and position to keep competitors out. So we thought "okay, we'll sue Pillsbury, that'll be fun" [laughter]. They were a four billion dollar company at the time. Then we thought we could file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. But everyone we talked to told us the Federal Trade Commission had become Reaganized, that it was much more interested in helping big companies get bigger as opposed to helping small companies survive.
So we thought well, if we're gonna go down, we'll at least take our case to the people and so we started the "What's the Dough Boy afraid of" campaign. So, this was kicked off by me going out to Minneapolis to the Pillsbury world headquarters where I was a one person picket line. I had my little picket sign that said "What's the Dough Boy Afraid Of?" and I was walking up and down on the sidewalk in front of the Pillsbury building handing out leaflets to people as they walked by and nobody had any idea why I was there [laughter]. Then we started flying aerial banners around the sports stadiums in Boston that said, "What's the Dough Boy Afraid Of?" We took out signs on the sides of the transit buses in Boston that had these two pudgy white hands coming out from behind the sign, squeezing a pint of Ben and Jerry's that said, "Don't let Pillsbury's dollars strangle Ben and Jerry's." And then we said we're gonna take this straight to our customers, so we printed an 800 number, a toll free number on all of our containers and then Ben and recorded a phone message explaining the situation and asking people if they wanted to leave their name and address to receive a dough boy mailing kit.
So the dough boy mailing kit consisted of this original leaflet, there was a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, there was a letter to the chairman of the board of Pillsbury, which essentially said, "Why don't you guys pick on someone your own size". There was a bumper, this evil looking bumper sticker saying "What's the Dough Boy Afraid of?" There was a t-shirt offer, you could purchase a t-shirt on the front it said, "What's the Dough Boy Afraid Of?" On the Back it said, "Ben and Jerry's legal defense fund, major contributor." [laughter] They cost 10 dollars. [laughter]
So, we recorded this phone message, we hooked it up to these answering machines (that's how old we are) that were then connected to this toll free number on all the pint containers and we started getting all of these phone calls. We started getting several hundred phone calls a week mostly between the hours of midnight and 3 AM. [laughter]. And the story got picked up in the media; there was an article about in the Wall Street Journal, there was a big article about it in the New Yorker magazine, there was a cover story [woah], cover story [laughter]. Its ok, I can do this, I can do this. There was a cover story on the Sunday magazine section of the Boston Globe newspaper, and there was... because, because there was so much of a public outcry, Pillsbury and Häagen-Dazs backed down and they allowed these distributers to carry Ben and Jerry's on their trucks, right next to all of the other brands they carried. And that's really what permitted Ben and Jerry's to be distributed across the country.
Well so just after that, Ben and I looked at each other one day and said, "boy, what the heck is going on here. We're not ice cream guys anymore, we're becoming business men. [laughter] We're not spending our time making ice cream and scooping it over the counter to our customers, we're spending our time hiring people and firing people and writing memos and correspondence, and talking with lawyers and accountants and it was not really our idea of a good time. Plus, we had grown up in the 60's. You guys have read about the 60's [laughter]. Peace and love and all of that, that was Ben and me. We had all these negative thoughts about business; we felt like our business was just becoming another cog in the economic machine. And we didn't want any part of that and so we decided to get out. Who are you? [laughter]. You can hear, right? It's going okay, it's not ideal.
Yeah, so we had all these bad thoughts about our business decided to get out. And Ben ran into this friend of his, Maurice Perper. Maurice was kind of this older, somewhat eccentric restaurateur in southern Vermont down in Brattleboro. And Ben was telling Maurice that we were going to get out of the business and Maurice says, "Ben, the business is your baby, it's just starting to take off." And Ben said, "Maurice, you what business does, it takes advantage of its employees, it spoils the environment, it exploits the community." And Maurice said, "Well Ben, if there's something you don't like business is done, they why don't you just change it." And as Ben says, "that had never really occurred to him." [laughter].
So at that point, we decided to stay with the business and see if we could make it something that we were really proud that was really supportive of the community. Good job. At that time, old Ben and Jerry's was doing about 2 million dollars in sales, we were making ice cream in a 3,000 square foot facility, using WWII vintage ice cream makers. We couldn't meet our orders, we didn't have room for our ingredients or our finished goods; we were really bursting at the seams. And we were at the stage of a business where it needs to take in more money to get to the next level. And the normal thing for a business to do at that point was to take in venture capital. Money from a small number of well to-do individuals to invest in the business in the hopes that it will grow and they'll make a very good return.
And what we decided to do was to use this need for cash as an opportunity to make the community owners of the business so that as the business prospered, the community as owners would automatically prosper and not be dependent upon the business's kindness or generosity. And the way we found to do this was to hold what became the first ever in-state Vermont public stock offer, selling stock in the company to Vermonters, people who had been supporting the business since it began. Ben unearthed this obscure law that had never been used before. So you know we talked to all of our advisers and they said this is a terrible idea. First of all its never been done before, second of all you should take the money from the venture capitalists, because when you need more, there'll be more from where that came from. Also there're not very many people in Vermont, there's only 600,000 people and those who are there don't have very much money. It's not a wealthy state.
And we said we don't care. If we're going to grow our business, we're going to do it in a way that's consistent with our values. So we couldn't find anyone to underwrite the offering. The company underwrote it itself; Ben and I registered as stock brokers, if you can believe that [laughter] and we had a very low minimum purchase of 126 dollars so that people of essentially any economic situation could participate. You know, normally, public offerings are reserved for so-called sophisticated investors that have several thousand dollars, but that's not who we were looking for. We were looking for our neighbors. So we advertised it in the first section of the newspaper right next to the clothing ads and the supermarket ads. It said "get a scoop of the action". [laughter] At the end of the offering, which we sold out, we raised 750,000 dollars, one out of every 100 families in Vermont had become owners of Ben and Jerry's; we were very excited.
We continued to operate the company. About a year and a half later, we needed more money. At that time, we decided to have a national public offering, and in conjunction with that we established the Ben and Jerry's Foundation, which would receive 7.5 percent of the company's pre-tax profits, which was the highest percentage of any publically held company. The corporate average is around 1.5 percent. And the reason we chose such a high percentage was our feeling at the time was that a business is essentially a machine for making money, so that if we wanted to be as of much benefit to the community as possible, we should give away as much money as possible. So we had this stock offering, we set up the foundation, the company started funding the foundation and in no time at all, the foundation was overwhelmed with grant requests from non-profit organizations doing incredibly worthwhile work. Issues like hunger, housing, what have you. And the foundation could only fund a miniscule percentage of the requests that we heard.
And as we thought about it, we realized that all of the foundations in the country are in the same situation. There are these tremendous unmet human needs and not nearly enough money to go around. We started to wonder why that was, and because we found ourselves in business, we started off by thinking about business and really the definition of business. Now, this is no business school. I didn't think so. There's the same business school at Oberlin [laughter]. You know, the normal definition of business is that business is an entity that produces a product or provides a service. Well, at Ben and Jerry's, we started to define it differently. We said that a business is a combination of organized human energy plus money, which equals power. In fact it's become clear that business is really is the most powerful force in our society today. And it's a relatively new phenomenon; it didn't always used to be the case. Originally the most powerful force was religion. And then it came to be governments. Nation states. And today its business and you can see that reality echoed in the buildings in the major cities around the worlds. The oldest, big ornate buildings are religious buildings, the second oldest big ornate buildings are governmental buildings and today, the big ornate buildings being built are commercial buildings.
And, as this most powerful force, business has incredible influence on our country and the world. Has incredible influence on elections through campaign contributions and with the recent Supreme Court decision about Citizens United there are no longer any limits on how much money individuals and corporations can spend to support a candidate. And they don't have to disclose it. What a beautiful system! [laughter] Business controls legislation through lobbying. Business controls all the mainstream media through ownership and business has a huge impact on how we're all treated, as consumers and as employees. And, the interesting thing about all this influence that business yields, is that business uses... we'll try this. [laughter]. Thank you.
Business uses all this influence in its own narrow self-interest, which is to make more money. And that's the big difference with business as this most powerful force and religion and government because religion and government have always had as part of their purpose, looking out for the common good, but that's never been the purpose of business. I mean, it's not that business is bad or evil or I mean, I'm a business guy, look at me. But it's just that business has a very clear purpose and it's kind of self-serving.
Well, what we started learning at Ben and Jerry's is that there's a spiritual aspect to business, just as there is to the lives of individuals. As you give, you receive. As you help others, you are helped in return. You know I think most of us as individuals believe there's a spiritual part to us. For some reason, when we gather together as a group and call ourselves a business, we throw that idea out the window. Well you know, Ben and I, we speak to business groups occasionally, and this idea of spirituality in business, it's not your normal business rap. And even though it's a return to very traditional values, it still meets with incredible resistance. Schopenhauer the philosopher said that all truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third it is accepted as being self-evident. So this idea of spirituality in business is somewhere along that path.
You know several years ago, Ben and I got invited to go to a CEO weekend workshop at Emory University in Atlanta and there were CEOs there from some of the biggest, most successful companies. There was the CEO from UPS, from Home Depot, from Sears. Ben and I were not exactly sure why we were invited. Maybe they thought we would bring dessert. [laughter] Which we did! [laughter] But we were there and after spending a weekend with these folks, what we learned was that the people running these very successful businesses by and large are really good people. They have strong social values, they contribute their own time and their own money to causes they believe in, and so the question arose to us, "well if business is this most powerful force, and the people running these businesses are these good caring people, why isn't business doing more to help address the growing social and environmental problems in our countries?"
And the reason we came to understand is that you only get what you measure, and in business what we measure is profitability. How much money have we made or how much money is leftover. And its really, a double edged sword, on the one had, it keeps everyone in the business focused and working together with a common goal, but on the other hand it can put blinders on people so that you don't always see the enormous social and environmental impacts that a business is having in this single minded pursuit of profit. You know, its kind of like when you're on a diet. Its important to measure how you're doing. You watch what you're eating, you see if you're getting exercise, you occasionally, you see how your clothes fit, you occasionally weigh yourself and if you're doing well, you keep up what you're doing and if you're not then you make some changes. But it's that act of checking in and measuring how you're doing that keeps you on target and in business it's exactly the same.
Well, so we said, boy if the problem is how we measure our success, why don't we just change it? And so that's what we decided to do. We decided to redefine the bottom line to have a two-part bottom line at Ben and Jerry's so we would measure our success not just by how much money we made, but by how much we were able to improve the quality of life in the communities where we operated. And if you look at the annual reports for Ben and Jerry's going back to 1988, you'll see that's there's a social report that's right next to the financial report.
So we called an all-company meeting. And you know, it was a room just about this size, with about this many people, Ben and I got up in front just like I am now, and we said "ok from now on, we're going to have a two-part bottom line. We're going to measure our success not just by how much money we make, how much we were able to improve the quality of life and everybody stood upped and cheered. It was a very popular idea, people loved it and then everybody went back to work. And, not too long afterwards, some of our managers came to us and they said "we have a problem." And we said, "oh?' And they said, "yeah, that two-part bottom line, that sounded great, but we find that when we take company energy and resources to give back to the community it takes away from our ability to make money and vice-versa. And we said, "Huh. That is a problem." And we thought about it, we realized that the solution to that dilemma was to choose those courses of action that have a positive impact on both of those bottom lines.
And you know when we first thought of it, probably when you first hear it, when anyone first hears it, it sounds all nice and warm and fuzzy, and then you think about it and then you think you can't really do that. And the reason we all think that is because that's the way we've been brought up, that's the way we've been conditioned to think. That if you want to make some money, you do it over here with some business and if you want to some good you do it over here and you can't combine the two. But what we've been learning is that that's simply a mindset. And that if you're able to get rid of that mindset, the opportunities to address both of those bottom lines are essentially limitless.
And I'll give some examples of how the company has been able to do it. I think it's very helpful to know that when we first started trying to do it, we had no idea what we were doing. So it was a matter of coming up with some ideas, trying some things, sometimes they worked, most often they didn't work and you tried to learn from that and make improvements and try again. And in that regard it's really no different from any other process of innovation of figuring out how to do something. I mean, its like new flavors at Ben and Jerry's. You know most new flavors don't make it, they never get out of the lab. They never see the light of day. You guys know the expression, many are called, few are chosen. We have, "many are cold, few are frozen." [laughter].
So, it's the field in which we labor and the way we approached it was to think, "How can we integrate social and environmental concerns into our normal day-to-day business activities so that they don't become add-ons or adjuncts to what we're doing, but they're central to the functioning of the business. So we tried to look at things like source of ingredients, marketing, finance, the entire range of things that the company does.
So we said well, new flavors! We do need to come up with new flavors! Ben and Jerry's became aware of a bakery, the Greyston bakery, outside of New York City, and the Greyston bakery worked with people who are out of the economic mainstream, people who had problems with substance abuse or legal problems, problems with homelessness and they provide jobs. And so we thought, "I wonder if there are baked goods that the Greyston Bakery makes that we can put into an ice cream flavor." And we leanred they made some really good brownies and so Ben and Jerry's came up with a flavor called Chocolate Fudge Brownie which has become very popular and very profitable. So simply by purchasing brownies from the Greyston Bakery, Ben and Jerry's gets this incredibly good flavor, and Ben and Jerry's now uses the brownies in Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, in frozen yogurt, in the perennial college favorite, Half-Baked. And, I think Ben and Jerry's bought over 8 million dollars worth of brownies last year from Greyston's.
Another thing an ice cream company needs to do is to sell ice cream. Ben and Jerry's has about 250 franchised ice cream shops in this country and 14 of those are what we call partner shops, they are shops that are owned and operated by non-profit social service agencies who work with at-risk youth. So for Ben and Jerry's, the company makes the same amount of money selling ice cream to those shops as any conventionally owned shops, and for those agencies, any money they make from their stores goes back into funding their programs and they provide job training and job experience for the young people they work with.
Also in terms of ingredients, Ben and Jerry's has made a commitment to become 100 percent fair trade globally. So fair trade, you guys probably know fair trade, but it's a system by which small farmers in developing countries are guaranteed a fair price for their products no matter what the market price is. And in addition to that they're paid a social premium that they're able to invest in their communities, in actually whatever they want to do, but they typically do it in terms of healthcare clinics or education.
In terms of finance, Ben and Jerry's developed a relationship with the South Shore Bank in Chicago, which was the first bank that was set up to green line, where as most banks red line. They set up a bank inside a decaying urban area and took deposits from outside that area and invested in the area whereas what banks do traditionally is take money outside of urban areas and invest it in the suburbs.
Well, so those are a few examples, you know its somewhat ironic, several years ago, Ben and Jerry's started to get criticized in the media that we were cynically trying to manipulate our customers into buying more ice cream by doing good deeds. [laughter]. And our response is that our actions are based on deeply held values and in addition we understand that true marketing is an integrated and holistic attempt to meet another set of our customer's needs: our customer's needs to have business be addressing the growing social and environmental issues in our country. We find that this way of doing business has so many benefits for the company, it provides added value, it's a unique selling proposition, all these marketing buzz words that companies are striving to find. It helps with recruiting employees, it helps with retaining employees and best of all it helps with customers. What we've been learning at Ben and Jerry's is that there is a spiritual aspect to business just as there is to the lives of individuals. As you give, you receive. As you help others, you are helped in return. And just because the idea that the good that you do, comes back to you is written in the Bible and not in some business textbook, doesn't mean that its any less valid. We're all interconnected. For business and people, its all the same.
Well thank you so much for your kind attention, I think we have time for a few questions, but we don't need to ask question, we can eat more ice cream! Thank you guys so much!