When the shiny, happy ice cream makers at Ben & Jerry’s decide to discontinue your favorite flavor, there are two things you can do: whine about it, or pay tribute to your preferred pint at the company’s Flavor Graveyard.
What began as an online-only ode to the Waterbury, Vermont-based company’s dearly departed pints (a.k.a. “the depinted”) in 1995 has become a real, live tourist attraction. Set peacefully on a hill behind the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, a visit to the Flavor Graveyard can be done independently of a factory tour (though the daily 30-minute tours do conclude with a tasting). We recently had the chance to pay our respects to the brand’s retired slate of pints, and learned 10 fun facts along the way.
1. THE FLAVOR GRAVEYARD OPENED IN 1997
Two years after the Flavor Graveyard made its digital debut, the sweet-toothed cemetery opened to the public. Its first official residents came during a mass burial of four flavors: Dastardly Mash (1979-1991), Economic Crunch (1987-1987), Ethan Almond (1988-1988), and Tuskegee Chunk (1989-1990). Today, it’s estimated that as many as 300,000 people visit the Flavor Graveyard each year.
2. 31 FLAVORS ARE CURRENTLY “BURIED” HERE
Don’t bother trying to dig up what might be the last known pint of your favorite flavor, as there’s nothing actually buried at the site itself—unless, according to a company spokesperson, you count “warm memories and cold reality.” Turtle Soup, Crème Brulee, and Fossil Fuel are its most recently interred flavors.
3. ETHAN ALMOND IS THE YOUNGEST RESIDENT
When it comes to short-lived flavors, Ethan Almond has its fellow residents beat. The flavor—vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered almonds—was never even sold as a pint. It was a bulk flavor, created specifically for the opening of Burlington, Vermont’s Ethan Allen Homestead Museum in 1987.
4. PEANUTS! POPCORN! AND CHOCOLATE COMFORT DIDN’T LAST LONG EITHER
Though both of these flavors did make it to grocery store shelves—Chocolate Comfort in 1999 and Peanuts! Popcorn! in 2000—both were laid to rest less than a year after their release.
5. THE HEADSTONES ARE MADE OF RESIN, FOR NOW
Though all of the graveyard’s headstones were initially made of resin, granite is taking over as the company’s material of choice. And they’re slowly replacing all of the original headstones at a rate of “a few” per year, according to a company spokesperson.
6. EACH FLAVOR GETS A CLEVER LITTLE EPITAPH
It’s the job of one of Ben & Jerry’s in-house copywriters to pay tribute to the growing list of retired flavors with a few poetic lines on the flavor’s passing. Sugar Plum, for example: "It swirled in our heads, it danced in our dreams, it proved not to be though, the best of ice creams."
7. WAVY GRAVY AND RAINFOREST CRUNCH ARE SORELY MISSED
Though they’ve recently revamped their website, ice cream lovers jonesing for a particular retired flavor were previously able to make their voices heard by casting a vote for the pints they most wanted to see resurrected. Two of the biggest vote-getters? Wavy Gravy and Rainforest Crunch.
8. WHITE RUSSIAN IS A ZOMBIE
After a decade of strong sales, Ben & Jerry’s reluctantly had to retire White Russian in 1996, but not because it wasn’t popular. The cost of the Kahlua-like flavoring that was used in its production became too prohibitive. But the customers spoke and White Russian was eventually resurrected, but only in Scoop Shops (sorry grocery store customers).
9. HOLY CANNOLI FOUND AN AFTERLIFE, TOO
Though Holy Cannoli spent only a year on shelves, the public outcry following its retirement was loud enough that the company’s flavor-makers decided to revisit the idea, but tweak its recipe. In 2012, they released a new take on the flavor—simply called Cannoli—as a limited batch, noting on their Facebook page, “We made a cannoli flavor with ricotta before and it bombed. It was called Holy Cannoli. This is a new take on it and we think it tastes better than Holy Cannoli did. We hope you do too!” (Maybe it was the pistachios.)
10. ECONOMIC CRUNCH LIVED UP TO ITS NAME
The day after the stock market crash of November 6, 1987, Ben & Jerry’s sent a truck to Wall Street and began handing out free scoops of Economic Crunch ice cream to brokers and investment bankers. The truck was parked illegally, which didn’t please the NYPD. But the company was determined to finish the job: Each time the driver was asked to move, he’d drive around the block, park in the same space again, and continue scooping.
All images courtesy of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc.