In Episode 304 Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger explore Waterbury, Vermont, searching for the state’s sweetest cemetery. Established in 1996, we find indisputable proof that some of those commemorated on these headstones do indeed return from the dead. The dead don’t necessarily stay dead here. If enough people ask… a resurrection can and has occurred. This graveyard WILL make you scream…
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JEFF: Okay, make a left right up there…
RAY: Got it.
JEFF: And we’ll turn off of Vermont’s Rt. 100.
RAY: Okay, I see a big factory over on our right.
JEFF: Yup, but we’re going to stay to the left.
RAY: Alright. Got it.
JEFF: And just beyond that curve ahead we can park… right near that graveyard.
[CAR STOPS / DOORS OPEN/CLOSE]
RAY: Yeah, I can see the boneyard gates right there by those trees. It definitely looks a little spooky.
JEFF: Yeah, it gets worse once we get into those hallowed grounds. Not everything inside this graveyard stays dead. In fact, I can tell you with absolute certainty that some of those commemorated on the headstones have indeed risen from the grave.
RAY: Come onnn…
JEFF: No Ray, it’s true. We’ve come to Waterbury, Vermont, to visit Vermont’s sweetest graveyard… and this graveyard may just make you scream…
[WOMAN HORROR MOVIE SCREAM]
JEFF: Hey! I’m Jeff Belanger.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger, and welcome to Episode 304 of the New England Legends podcast. Think of us as your townie buddies. And we appreciate you riding along with us as we explore every strange legend in New England one story at a time.
JEFF: Whether it’s ghosts, monsters, aliens, roadside oddities, or the just plain weird, we want to know about it. So many of our story leads come from you, so please reach out to us anytime through our Web site. And remember that great things happen when you share these legends.
RAY: We’ll continue this Cemetery Safari in Waterbury, Vermont, right after this quick word from this sponsor.
[FUNERAL ORGAN MUSIC]
JEFF: Let’s head up into these hallowed grounds.
RAY: Okay, this graveyard isn’t very large. There’s a white picket fence around it. I can already see maybe three dozen headstones in there.
JEFF: Yup. But like I said, they don’t always stay dead in here.
RAY: Are we talking about zombies? More New England vampires?
JEFF: Not really. This graveyard is unique in that…
RAY: Wait a minute! The archway over the entrance says, “Flavor Graveyard.” I can’t believe I missed it before… that huge factory we passed on the way in?
RAY: That’s the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory!
JEFF: It is. This is Mecca for ice cream lovers all over the world.
RAY: No kidding! I can feel my waistband expanding just being here!
JEFF: Ben and Jerry’s has made many great flavors over the years.
RAY: Ice Cream is my passion. I got this, Jeff.
RAY: Ben and Jerry’s began back in 1978 when two buddies, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, opened an ice cream shop in a former gas station in Burlington, Vermont. People in Burlington liked their ice cream… A LOT. Pretty soon, they couldn’t keep up! Within two years they started packing their ice cream in pints so they could distribute to grocery stores and other outlets.
JEFF: In 1983, Ben and Jerry brought their ice cream to St. Albans, Vermont, to build the world’s largest ice cream sundae. It weighed in at 27,102 pounds!
RAY: I bet I could have eaten at least half of that.
JEFF: And I would have taken the other half.
RAY: This Waterbury, Vermont, factory opened in 1985 and can produce up to 350,000 pints per day. And they opened for tours the following year.
JEFF: Got a favorite flavor?
RAY: Chunky Monkey. Banana ice cream with fudge chunks and walnuts. How about you?
JEFF: Cherry Garcia. No question. Cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge pieces. And, it doesn’t hurt that I’m a Dead Head from way back. This was their first flavor named for a rock legend.
RAY: That’s a good one too.
JEFF: Any flavors you miss that have gone away?
RAY: I liked Holy Canoli. It had ricotta and pistachio ice cream with chocolate covered canolis and roasted pistachios.
JEFF: Well, good news… you can at least visit Holy Canoli here inside the flavor graveyard. And more good news is that sometimes these flavors come back from the dead!
RAY: So like… zombie ice cream?
JEFF: Something like that. To find out how this graveyard got here, we’re going to head back to 1996 and pray we don’t run into younger versions of ourselves.
RAY: It’s October of 1996. “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis is the number one song on the radio. The New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves are in the World Series—the Red Sox missed the playoffs this year—and Bill Clinton is in the White House. But here in Waterbury, Vermont, death is on the minds of Ben and Jerry.
JEFF: It sure is. Ice Cream moguls Ben and Jerry launched their Web site last year offering virtual licks.
RAY: NOT as tasty as the real thing.
JEFF: No, not at all. Anyway, their Web site is popular. Web sites are still a pretty new thing. The search engine Yahoo only launched two years ago, and here’s Ben and Jerry racking up the clicks with their fun Web site. What many people don’t realize is that since they opened their first ice cream store back in 1978, they’ve made hundreds of flavors.
JEFF: Hundreds. Most were short-lived. So Ben and Jerry thought it would be fun to publish a flavor graveyard on their Web site… And people loved it! They’d post lamentations to their dearly departed flavors, and sometimes, if there was enough interest, Ben and Jerry brought a flavor back from the dead.
RAY: Oooo resurrected. The World Wide Web is changing everything, isn’t it? Business and customers get to communicate with each other like never before. It’s truly amazing! If a flavor gets enough clicks, then it could lead to more licks.
JEFF: I see what you did there!
RAY: Meanwhile, as Ben and Jerry’s continues to grow in popularity, their Waterbury, Vermont, factory is becoming a destination for ice cream lovers. The factory offers tours, scoops, pints, and a place to bring the kids and hang out.
JEFF: It’s 1997 when construction begins on an actual graveyard on the ground of this Waterbury facotry.
[POWER SAWS AND HAMMERING]
JEFF: And pretty soon, there’s a little fence.
[DIG DIG DIG]
JEFF: And the first four headstones are erected for the dearly… uhhhm… de-pinted.
RAY: The first four headstones commemorate Dastardly Mash, Economic Crunch, Ethan Almond, and Tuskegee Chunk.
JEFF: The epitaphs are amazing.
RAY: They are! Economic Crunch reads: A delightful mash, This flavor we remember. For the stock market crash, On the Sixth of November. The flavor was only available in 1987. The ice cream was vanilla with chocolate covered almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Rest in pieces…
JEFF: Dastardly Mash lead a much longer life. It featured chocolate ice cream with pecans, almonds, raisins, and chocolate chips. It was around from 1979 to 1991. The epitaph reads: Here the brazen Dastardly lies. Some say that raisin, Caused its demise.
RAY: Tuskeegee Chunk was around from 1989 to 1990. It featured peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chunks. The epitaph reads: Lost flavor so melted. Who could have foreseen it? Perhaps we misspelt it? Adieu, precious peanut.
JEFF: Years pass and more headstones are erected. Pretty soon, the Flavor Graveyard becomes… a thing. What started as something virtual on their Web site has moved onto the grounds of the Waterbury, Vermont factory.
RAY: There’s Dublin Mudslide. Irish Cream Liqueur Ice Cream with chocolate chip cookies and a coffee fudge swirl. 2005 to 2007.
JEFF: The bottle is empty, The cup, and the glass. Mud with Irish cream, was not meant to last.
RAY: Too bad… that one sounds good! As years pass, four headstones become ten, as more flavors are added.
JEFF: Rest in peace, Aloha Mcadamia. Rest in peace, Bovinity Divinity. Rest in peace, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt. Rest in Peace, Chocolate Comfort…
RAY: Okay, that one I get.
JEFF: You don’t like chocolate?!
RAY: I love chocolate! But Chocolate Comfort was chocolate truffle low fat ice cream swirled with white chocolate low fat ice cream. It only lasted one year. 1999.
JEFF: Yeah, I’m not a fan of low fat ice cream. If I’m going to have ice cream, give me the full octane! Anyway, the epitaph on Chocolate Comfort reads: It’s curtains for the chocolate pair. I ate alone in the comfy chair. One pint per night it might have been. But ‘twas low fat so it weren’t no sin.
RAY: So these headstones and dearly de-pint-ed flavors sit until they might rein-cone-ate – as the Ben and Jerry’s web site puts it. But it’s all in good fun. The headstones are symbolic… at least they were until…
RAY: From here we jump ahead to October 1, 2015.
[FUNERAL ORGAN MUSIC AGAIN]
RAY: As Ben and Jerry’s prepares to add their flavor What a Cluster to the graveyard, they up the ante. This time it’s a for-real funeral. A hearse, a casket, pall bearers, mourners. The whole thing.
JEFF: What a Cluster was peanut butter ice cream with caramel cluster pieces, marshmallow swirls and peanut butter swirls. The flavor was originally called Clusterfluff… but they changed the name in 2011 to the less risqué What a Cluster.
[DIG DIG DIG]
RAY: A grave is dug. And the epitaph is read: Gooey marshmallow, caramel and p.b. What a Cluster it was, but inevitably. Stuff happens, so for better or worse, What a Cluster was trucked away in the hearse. 2011 to 2014.
JEFF: You can watch the funeral on Ben and Jerry’s YouTube channel. And that brings us back to today.
JEFF: Okay, so each year Ben and Jerry’s receives thousands of requests to resurrect old flavors. And in 2022, they pulled Dublin Mudslide from the graveyard and brought it back from the dead.
RAY: So if your favorite has gone away, there’s still hope.
JEFF: There’s always hope. Always hope.
RAY: Ben and Jerry’s have made a name for themselves by being unconventional. They’ve stood out from the beginning with unique flavors, fun marketing, and creating a community around their ice cream.
JEFF: It’s kind of amazing that this graveyard exists. I mean, these flavors are here because they weren’t commercially successful enough to last. In business terms, they’re a failure. How many other companies build literal monuments to their failures?
RAY: Good point. But at least they took a chance? They took lots of chances. Not every flavor was a hit. I love that they don’t run from the products that didn’t light up their balance sheets. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
JEFF: Agreed. We’re standing in a cemetery that’s a testament to that lesson. But also proof that if enough people want it… if enough people believe… even the deceased can rise again. This is clearly a graveyard that will make you scream…
[HORROR MOVIE SCREAM]
JEFF: For ice cream…
RAY: And that brings us to After the Legend where we dig deeper into this week’s story and sometimes find things we were never digging for.
JEFF: After the Legend is brought to you by our Patreon patrons! Doing what we do not only takes a bunch of time, but also money and resources to cover our hosting, travel, promotion. Plus, many of you know that great content isn’t free. We appreciate those who support us. It’s just $3 bucks per month and for that you get early access to all of our new episodes plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. Just dig your way over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends to sign up.
T0 see some pictures of the Flavor Graveyard you can click on the link in our episode description, or go to our web site and click on Podcast 304.
We have a mea culpa this week. In Episode 302 – New Haven’s Controversial First Hamburger, we cracked a joke that there are songs about burgers, but none about quiche. Alert listener Skip Zinsmeister sent us an email to remind us that in 1980 the B-52’s released a song called “Quiche Lorraine” on their Wild Planet album. We stand corrected. Thanks for keeping us honest, Skip!
McDonald’s had the McPizza for about 15 minutes one year. I tried it.
Favorite ice cream flavors? Memories?
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We’d like to thank our patreon patrons, thank you to our sponsors, and our theme music is by John Judd.
Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.