Charged with a quest to make the world a little sweeter (and less stressful), Ben & Jerry’s wrapped up its highly successful, summer-long “Stop and Taste the Ice Cream” Tour today with a visit to New York City’s Central Park.

The national tour was designed to encourage people across America to take a little break from their hectic, fast-paced lives to enjoy life’s little pleasures. It was the brainchild of the Ben & Jerry’s “Joy Gang,” a group of full-time Ben & Jerry’s employees whose mission is to ensure that the company is always giving back to its communities.

The “Joy Gang” visited 13 cities in all, including Portland, Denver, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Hartford, and ending in New York City. “Our culmination in The Big Apple is quite fitting, given the high level of stress that New Yorkers endure on a daily basis,” noted Sean Greenwood, Ben & Jerry’s Grand Poobah of Joy. “So we went to the most bucolic of all settings, Central Park, to create an oasis of calm and a chance for New Yorkers to take a much-needed break from their busy lives.”

The tour’s travelling “Urban Pastures” featured live music, grazing cows and, of course, free ice cream, all centered around a giant, ice cream-shaped hot-air balloon (towering seven stories high and equaling 11,700,000 scoops of Cherry Garcia ice cream!). The balloon flew over such national treasures as Seattle’s Space Needle, LA’s “Hollywood” sign, Denver’s Rocky Mountains and Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and culminated with today’s flight over Central Park. It’s next scheduled for flight at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta from October 7-15, 2000, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But it wasn’t all fun and games: there was some serious scooping going on during the tour’s “Charity Scooper Bowl,” which gave away over $100,000 to local non-profit groups. Local luminaries, including pro athletes, politicians, TV and radio personalities, and even some “fine-feathered” friends (like the WNBA’s “G-Wiz” and DC United’s “Talon”) were pitted against each other in a one-minute scoop-off challenge.

The Ben & Jerry’s “Stop and Taste the Ice Cream” Tour ran from May 17 to September 18, 2000.

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Ben & Jerry’s produces a wide variety of super premium ice cream, ice cream novelties, low fat ice cream, low fat yogurt and sorbet, using Vermont dairy products and high quality, all natural ingredients. The company is committed to using milk and cream that have not been treated with the synthetic hormone, rBGH. Ben & Jerry’s products are distributed nationwide and in selected foreign countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops, restaurants and other venues.