The pandemic and resulting quarantine took away a lot of joyous events from us. But recent news from one of the biggest ice cream brands in the U.S. offers a hint that some things, at least, are returning to normal.
On March 14, Ben & Jerry’s announced that Free Cone Day, the annual event where the brand gives away free ice cream, will take place on April 3 after a four-year hiatus.
The country’s top-selling ice cream — with about $911 million in sales in 2022, according to Statista — typically holds the event every year on the same day, but COVID slowed plans to a screeching halt in 2020.
On the day, from noon until 8 p.m., the chain will be giving out as many free cones as customers’ want with no disguises needed to get unlimited dessert. Well, you can wear fake mustaches, sunglasses and mysterious fedoras if you want to, but you don’t actually need to.
In a press release, the 44-year-old ice cream conglomerate shares the origin of the springtime event, saying that in Vermont on May 5, 1979, co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield braved a long winter in the state with an average temperature below freezing all season.
“To celebrate their first year in business and thank the local community for their support, the co-founders decided to open the doors and scoop free ice cream,” reads the press release. “It wasn’t just a taste. It wasn’t just one flavor. It was all the ice cream the duo could churn out. They called it ‘Free Cone Day’ — and just like that… an annual celebration was born.”
Over four decades later, the brand says the intention hasn’t changed one bit. Now having grown to its flavorful footprint to 35 countries and 98 flavors and counting, the brand says the day still serves as a thank you.
“The day is still about fans … In addition to more ice cream than our scoopers can shake their scoops at, our Scoop Shops around the world add their own swirl of fun to Free Cone Day,” reads the release, adding that some participating Scoop Shops will also be partnering with local nonprofits in their communities, giving and added benefit thanks to the attention around Free Cone Day.
“Ice cream lovers can get in line as many times as they would like,” the release continues, pointing out that fans can try any flavor.
The ice cream company also highlights its classic and most popular offering: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, a flavor which Ben & Jerry’s invented and first started selling in 1991. The ice creamery also mentioned a new flavor unveiled in 2023, Lights! Caramel! Action!, which was conceived with Ava DuVernay and benefits the director, filmmaker and TV producer’s ARRAY Alliance, which aims to advance social justice through art.
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Ben & Jerry’s isn’t the only ice cream juggernaut to offer a free cone as a “thank you” for existing. On the first day of spring, March 20, Dairy Queen is celebrating its own version of the event (also called Free Cone Day) where soft-serve lovers can grab a small vanilla cone free of charge.
Still, Ben & Jerry’s is shooting for the stars this year, setting a new, all-time goal for its return to Free Cone Day, wanting it to be the “biggest and best ever.”
The brand says the goal this year is to serve well over a million scoops of ice cream globally, inviting you, your friends, family and loved ones to help celebrate the occasion. Both Ben and Jerry are practically begging us to ply everyone we know with free ice cream, so who are we to stand in their way?
Interested parties can find out where Free Cone Day takes place in their country on Ben & Jerry’s website.