Alexa Harrison ’09 dishes the scoop for Ben & Jerry’s
Alexa Harrison ’09 has the most grueling, dreadful, arduous job. She eats ice cream. For a living. Not just any frozen confection, Harrison is an ice cream-eating employee of Ben & Jerry’s.
Let us pause, Dear Reader, and offer a moment of silence in solidarity for her sacrifice.
In all fairness, she rarely eats more than a pint a week in her Queens, New York, apartment, where she’s based. If she worked in the uncorporatesque headquarters in Vermont, she’d have an allowance of three pints A DAY, like all employees, then all bets would be off.
Harrison is forced – forced! – to research (wink) the ice cream for her role in public relations so she can talk about the flavors with reporters, marketing teams or franchisees. She has her favorites.
“When I started (in January 2023), I would have said Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, but I’m really into Phish Food right now,” Harrison said earlier this year. Since the summer, she’s been smitten with a new flavor, Ice Cream Sammie, described on the website as “vanilla ice cream with chocolate sandwich cookies and chocolate cookie swirls.” But she won’t turn down Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled with its alluring vegan ingredients, including sunflower butter, chocolate cookie swirls, graham cracker swirls and fudge. Really, anything with a graham cracker swirl is her jam.
Working for Ben and Jerry’s is as fun and casual as people might expect, Harrison said. She mostly interacts with the news media, taking requests for interviews from reporters around the country. But it’s not all Lights, Caramel, Action. On April 20 this year (420) she worked with Ben & Jerry’s social mission team to share their campaign on cannabis justice. This summer she was in New York, scooping ice cream with Stephen Colbert for picketing members of the Writers Guild of America.
From her time at Furman, Harrison set out to be a journalist. She double majored in English literature and Spanish literature and interned at The Greenville Journal and The Greenville News. She also took an immersion journalism class that helped her grow as a writer. For one piece she wrote about the lives of exotic dancers, including one who lived in a converted school bus with her husband and two children. It was an enriching assignment, one that let Harrison dive deeply into the lives of everyday people and find meaning and purpose.
After Furman, Harrison got a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. Then it was off to Los Angeles and an internship with the entertainment news giant Variety. She parlayed that gig into steady freelance work for 10 years, “covering a lot of carpet,” she says, on both coasts. In Los Angeles she covered SAG Award parties, Directors Guild of America awards, galas and movie premiers. In New York it was movie premieres for Monuments Men with George Clooney, Gravity with Clooney and Sandra Bullock, The Dark Knight Rises, Men in Black 3 and more.
Harrison moved to New York in 2011 and started working in public relations jobs for a series of companies, from an agency that handled luxury brands to Atlas Obscura. She worked for B Lab, a non-profit that certifies “B Corporations” as globally responsible, until working for Ben & Jerry’s, a Certified B Corporation.
A couple of times a quarter, Harrison goes to the Vermont headquarters to meet with the larger team. The corporate staff is pretty small, she said, with just about 100 people, with many more responsible for cranking out all those frozen pints of deliciousness. She did not disclose how much ice cream she eats while there.