We took an impromptu trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory today. We were at the science museum yesterday, having a snack, and the kids found a Ben & Jerry’s brochure. They were sold. That and the Vermont Teddy Bear factory brochure that had Eve cooing. So we decided to take a drive! It was a beautiful day for a trip.
When we got there we had to wait for about 15 minutes for our tour so we did a little exploring. Tours are just $4 for grownups and free for kids 12 and under, but guess what? It was free tour day! We got lucky!
The camera had to go off at this point as they don’t allow photography during the tour. Lex was pretty disappointed because he really wanted to take pictures and draw a diagram of the factory on the way home. I told him to do his best with his memory, but there was a lot to see and a lot to remember.
Cameras back on at the end for free samples!
After we finished the tour we stopped at the Scoop Shop and got two smalls, one Americone Dream and one Double Chocolate Brownie (or something like that). Then we went to sit in the grass and eat. This is where we lost Eve (emotionally, not physically). The deal was we would all share both, but she decided she needed some alone time and sulked by herself for awhile. I think it was stimulation and sugar overload.
Fortunately her tantrum didn’t last long and she was back to her old cheery self soon enough. Just in time to visit the Flavor Graveyard!
When we left the graveyard Lex said, “That wasn’t sad at all.” He had been a little hesitant about going there, apparently because he thought it would be too sad. Turns out it’s a very silly place, much like the rest of the Ben & Jerry’s establishment.
Once we left Ben & Jerry’s we stopped at a pizza place for a very late lunch. The kids decided they were feeling up to driving a bit further (half an hour further!) and visiting the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. They promised they would not bug me to buy them a teddy bear. Ha!
Again we had about 15 minutes to wait for our tour, but unfortunately this place is nothing but one big store. We browsed briefly then went outside and found a giant cement silo full of graffiti. The kids picked up some sidewalk chalk and added their own names. There were also a few hula hoops and balls to play with, so we whiled away the time outside waiting for our tour.
Tour time! Because these are teddy bears and not food, we were able to get much closer to the actual production. The kids liked it much better.
Now I’m sure you are wondering if I actually left there without buying a bear. And of course the answer is no! But I didn’t make them pick a small bear and I made them agree on just one to share. Even the smallest ones were $30 and as we discovered from recent organization efforts at home, we have more than 50 stuffed animals! That’s not even counting the ones I have put away in the storage! So they agreed on one small bear (on the condition it came with a box!), I bought a few funny eyes, and away we went.
Overall a great day! I’ll give you a quick summary of my opinion of our two factory tours. We were discussing them while cuddling in bed tonight and the kids agree too. Ben & Jerry’s was a much funner place to be. They had lots to do and see. Ice cream, of course, is always a bonus, but they also had the graveyard, and a big playground, and lots of history and murals and interesting things to look at. However, the tour was less interesting and consisted of mostly videos and a birds-eye view of the factory floor.
The Vermont Teddy Bear factory was a better tour because you could get a real close view of the action. It was also much less crowded so our tour group was small and the kids were really interactive with the tour guide. However, I felt the whole tour was a sales pitch! She spent the first part telling us all about the different bears they make and she named every bear “product line” and made us all guess at what the names were (all flavors). All through the tour she talked about “your bear” this and that. Towards the end she spent a lot of time detailing how cute the packaging was that the bear ships in. It has an air hole, and games on the inside of the box so the bear doesn’t get bored, and it comes with a snack (candy from Lake Champlain Chocolates!) and she really sold the idea. She also spent a fair amount of time discussing the clothing options for the bears. The tour was nice and fun, but totally a sales pitch! Very little history or anything else. Then, of course, right into the gift shop where the cheapest bear you can buy is $30 and they all have entire wardrobes you can buy.
Both places were fun, but overall I think Ben & Jerry’s was a more all-encompassing fun experience! We spent several hours there and could have stayed even longer.
Lex went to bed wishing we could visit more factories in the area. I’ll have to think about that. I feel this need to pack in a ton of fun stuff this week since next week I start school and summer is practically over!
For tonight we will sleep well with visions of ice cream and teddy bears dancing in our heads. :)