After a five-dollar correspondence course in ice cream making from Penn State, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first shop in Burlington  in 1978. From that small seed grew a company that revolutionized the American ice cream market, proving that Häagen-Dazs didn’t have a lock on thick and creamy.
Though most of it is made in a second factory in St. Albans , Ben & Jerry’s still makes ice cream in its flagship Waterbury  Ben & Jerry’s Factory (1401 Rte. 100, 866/258-6877, www.benjerrys.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily mid-Oct.–May; 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily June; 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily July–mid-Aug.; 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily mid-Aug.–mid-Oct., $3 adults, $2 seniors, children 12 and under free).
A cowbell signals the start of tours, which take in a self-congratulating biopic about the duo, as well as a look from the mezzanine onto the factory floor—where ice cream is mixed, flavored, frozen, and packed into pints.
The secret to the ice cream’s richness, as tour guides will tell you, isn’t more butter or heavier cream—it’s less air stirred into the mix. Of course the best part of the tour is saved for the end: the Flavoroom, where guests can taste free samples of whatever is coming off the floor, oftentimes a new or experimental flavor. While you are downing the cold stuff, you can fantasize about the fact that B&J employees are each allowed to take home 15 pints a week of factory seconds.
On your way out of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, take a short walk up to the hill by the playground where you can find the “Flavor Graveyard,” with 30 tombstones marked with flavors that didn’t make it. Among them, you’ll find Honey, I’m Home, a honey-vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered honeycomb pieces; Lemon Peppermint Carob Chip, which just speaks for itself; and the ill-fated Sugar Plum, a plum ice cream with caramel swirl which was the worst-selling flavor in B&J history. In three weeks on the market, it sold exactly one pint.