Established in 1978, this once-small Vermont producer of homemade ice cream (with a cultish following) hit the big time when Unilever bought it in 2000. But it retains the kind of rock-culture flavors that made it famous. And it remains phenomenally popular: Of all the big-name ice cream outfits in the U.S., Ben & Jerry's is the social media favorite, raking in by far the most "likes," followers, and video views on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2013, the flavor Half Baked (chocolate and vanilla ice creams with chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge brownies), unseated iconic Cherry Garcia (cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes) as the No. 1 Ben & Jerry's bestseller in the U.S. The company may have gone industrial with a daily ice cream production of 35,000 gallons processed in 1,000-gallon blenders and stored in 5,000-gallon mix tanks, but it still reflects small-batch values by refusing genetically modified ingredients and dairy from cows fed artificial growth hormone. [benjerry.com]
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