In 1963, Bennett Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were both self-described “smart, nerdy, fat kids” at Merrick Avenue Junior High School on Long Island, New York, separately undergoing the humiliations that come with being overweight in junior
high P.E. class.
They track, way ended up on the same behind the others.
Recalled Greenfield to an interviewer:
“We were the two slowest, chubbiest guys in the class. Coach yelled, ‘Gentlemen, if you don’t run the mile in under seven minutes, you’re going to have to do it again.’ And Ben yelled back, `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 seven minutes the second time.’ To me this was brilliance. This was a guy I wanted to know.”
It was the start of a firm friendship.
Years later, when they decided to go into business together, they decided it should be food related because they were unabashedly into eating.
They considered making bagels until they learned that startup costs would total more than $40,000.
Instead, they rented an abandoned gas station near the University of Vermont, signed up for a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making from Pennsylvania State, and began producing and selling ice cream.