It was 1988 when we decided to hire our first Flavor Guru not named Ben or Jerry. The search led us to Peter Lind, and we’re happy it did! After all, he's still here dreaming up some great flavor creations.
We got a chance to talk with Peter and learned more about his unique job title, the most intense flavor he's ever worked on, and some insider info on his latest project - Ben & Jerry's Cookie Cores.
Let's start with the title. You're one of 6 Ben & Jerry's Flavor Gurus, but you're the only "Primal Ice Cream Therapist" in the office. Probably in the world.
I think that may be true. I've never met another.
Where did it come from?
You know the saying - "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." Well, it came from that. Except with Ben & Jerry's, I always pictured it as more of a primal scream.
And the “Therapist” part?
It just had such a nice ring to it. My therapy is helping people find their favorite ice cream.
You've been at Ben & Jerry's for a long time.
From 1988-1997, then I came back in 2008 and I've been here ever since.
What were you doing before coming to Ben & Jerry's? Did you always think you'd end up in ice cream?
When I was in college, my roommate and I started an ice cream company where we'd make 1-2 flavors a night, then sell it all the next day. We set up our little freezer across from the mall. Business was good, but eventually we got shut down.
How come? Two crazy kids causing too much trouble?
We didn't have running water for scooping our flavors.
I don't blame them, but maybe if we lasted a little longer we'd be looking at Brian & Pete's Ice Cream instead of Ben & Jerry's.
The world would be a very different place.
You can say that again. Who knows if I would have made Wavy Gravy or Chubby Hubby?
You're the man behind Wavy Gravy?
And Chubby Hubby. That's my favorite. But Wavy Gravy definitely holds a place in my heart.
Because fans voted it back for a limited run after it went to the Flavor Graveyard?
Sure. You take a special kind of pride in a flavor that fans connect with like that. But also because it took about 200 variations of the flavor before we got it right.
Is 200 a lot?
My next one was maybe 13 or 14 variations.
Wow! That's a huge difference.
I was working directly with Ben on Wavy Gravy. He was still traveling a lot back then, so every week or so I'd send him 3-5 different samples to try. Then he'd come into the office and we'd try more in person. I think Ben just wanted to be delighted with new stuff. I had told Ben the chunks were too large. He didn’t believe me and asked for a pail of the chunks. I poured the contents out on the conference table and this rather large chunk rolled out.
It worked out for the best.
I'm proud of it, that’s for sure.
Your latest project - The Cookie Cores - what can you tell us about them?
They're good. You should try them. The cookie butters we’re using in our three launch flavors are going to make a lot of fans happy. There’s peanut butter cookie butter, speculoos cookie butter, and dark chocolate cookie butter.
No chocolate chip cookie dough?
That was one of the first ones we tried. It just seemed natural, being that we introduced the world to chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, but the flavor didn’t translate. Don’t worry, though. We’re not giving up on it. In the meantime, we think everyone’s going to love Spectacular Speculoos, Peanut Buttah, and Boom Chocolatta!
When you hang up your Flavor Guru hat, what do you like to do for fun?
I’ve been playing the jazz harmonica for almost 45 years now. It was blues for the first 40 or so, but lately I’ve really gotten into gypsy jazz. When I came back to Ben & Jerry’s in 2008, they greeted me by playing harmonica over the PA. It was a nice touch and reminded me how great a company this is.
Do you play with bands or is it a solo thing?
I love playing with other musicians. There are a few bands I sit in with, but Cookie’s Hot Club is my main act.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. It was great to get the inside scoop on Cookie Cores.
Trust me, you’re going to love them.