Grab a spoon and also pass the Chunky Monkey! Counterculture capitalists Ben Cohen and Jerry greenfield agreed yesterday to sell their Ben & Jerry’s ice cream agency to unilever PLC.

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And Ben & jerry’s Homemade Inc. Was just a $326 million dessert because that the european consumer products giant. Like countless a yo-yo dieter, unilever announced it would certainly wash down the Ben & Jerry’s through $2.6 billion precious of Slim-Fast diet shakes.

In purchase two icons of America’s love-hate connection with food, unilever is proceeding its effort to shed poorly performing products to concentrate on its 400 best-selling brands. Through 45 percent that the $1.3 exchange rate diet food market and $611 million in sales, the privately held, Florida-based Slim-Fast foods Co. Now becomes unilever’s sixth-largest brand.

Purveyor the such household names together Ponds, Vaseline, Ragu and also Lipton Tea, unilever is also the world largest an equipment of ice cream cream, owning the Breyer’s and good Humor premium brands. Ben & jerry niche is superpremium, selling its Cherry Garcia and also Chubby Hubby flavors in every the major grocery chain nationwide and also through around 215 scoop shops. The company, i beg your pardon tempered capitalism through a spoonful the whimsy and also a healthy dollop of social consciousness, had actually $237 million in sales critical year.

Selling out to this firm “suits” is one ironic ending for the agency founded in 1978 by two former hippies v $12,000--$4,000 of it borrowed. Cohen and also Greenfield took the agency public in 1985.

Although they had actually fended turn off takeover supplies in the past, it had become clear come the founders that Ben & jerry’s needed an ext resources and broader distribution channels. Last December, to the dismay of plenty of Vermonters and also some of its franchisees, the agency let the be well-known it to be considering various other opportunities.

“Neither the us might have anticipated, two decades ago, the a significant multinational would someday sign on, enthusiastically, come pursue and expand the society mission that proceeds to be critical part the Ben & Jerry’s,” Cohen and Greenfield stated in a news release.

Social work will proceed under Unilever, the Ben & Jerry’s release pointed out, perhaps in anticipation of critics of the move. Specifics the firm will stay headquartered in Vermont and will continue to purchase growth-hormone-free milk from family members farmers in the state. It also will still hand out 7.5 percent that pretax earnings to the company’s charity foundation.

Unilever’s commitment come these practices comes v something of one enforcement clause, according to the vermouth company’s spokesman, Lee Holden. The multinational, he said, has actually named two current Ben & Jerry’s board members come enforce the guarantees, providing them the best to sue if necessary.

Cohen had earlier tried to take the company private again, and also he identified yesterday he would have desired independence for it. But, in a statement exit to the push with a lead-in from a grateful Dead song, he claimed he is excited about the future and also will continue to occupational with the company, as will Greenfield.

Ben & jerry shareholders may count themselves amongst the thankful living because that the $43.60 a re-superstructure offer, i beg your pardon was about a 25 percent premium over the company’s closeup of the door price that $34.93 3/4 top top Tuesday.

“I’m emotion pretty confident that it’s going to be a great fit,” claimed Lori Johnston, who operates Ben & jerry of Eastern industry on Capitol Hill and another scoop shop in Georgetown. “Ben and the board seem to have actually made a deal with Unilever the is going to continue our society mission and work in the community and also all the things that we together franchisees were fighting for.” Johnston is chairman the the that company Franchise Advisory Council.

Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World, a trade newspaper that covers the grocery company in the mid-Atlantic, dubbed Unilever and also Ben & jerry a an excellent fit. He added that significant international consumer goods suppliers such together Unilever and also Procter & gambling Co. Are getting other brands in stimulate to increase market share and also to balance your strength versus the farming clout of the multinational grocery carriers that have been developed by market consolidation.

At the offer price, Cohen’s holdings in Ben & Jerry’s room worth $39.3 million, and also Greenfield’s $9.6 million.

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In the push release, Cohen seemed to be calling out for a blessing top top the deal once he quoted from the grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias”:

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