The first installment in Dead Stop, Morning Edition’s summer road trip series about interesting gravesites in America.
When the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company kills a flavor, it’s treated with respect — including a burial in the company’s “Flavor Graveyard.”
“I think we’ve got the best, and the not-best, up here,” Sean Greenwood, Ben and Jerry’s Grand Poobah of Publicity, says from the cemetery in Waterbury, Vt.
“Flavors like Wild Maine Blueberry. It’s been decades since we made this flavor, but we used to have the trucks back up here with truckloads of blueberries,” he says, “and everyone would pitch in and unload the blueberries, and make it while the blueberries were fresh.”
In what may be a nod to the current zombie fad, Ben and Jerry’s also offers customers a chance to make the case for resurrecting a favorite flavor.
But that doesn’t mean every flavor should be brought back. In particular, Greenwood cites “the dreaded Sugar Plum” ice cream, a mix of plum and caramel that he says should remain six feet under.
Customers and employees alike feel pangs of sadness when their favorite flavors either fail to catch on or can’t recover from hard times. For instance, a particular ingredient might become too costly, or a kitchen process might be too complicated to continue.
“You feel bad when the good ones just don’t make it anymore,” Greenwood says.
A prime example is Rainforest Crunch, Greenwood says. He recites an elegiac poem dedicated to the flavor:
“With aching heart and heavy sigh, we bid Rainforest Crunch goodbye; that nutty brittle from exotic places got sticky in between our braces. 1989-1996. It was a really, really good flavor.”
Like most cemeteries, the Flavor Graveyard attracts its share of mourners and other visitors.
“It’s not uncommon,” Greenwood says. “You walk up to the graveyard here, and there’ll be fans that are up here putting flowers next to a headstone, or down on one knee, kind of paying their respects.”
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