Can you hear that? Listen closely… It definitely sounds like a certain legendary, Vermont-based, four-man band is jamming on a swirling, bouncing rendition of Happy Birthday. Yes, it must be party time. But don’t worry! You’re invited.
We’re guessing that some of dedicated Phish fans may already know why today is such a special day and why we’re in such a celebratory mood. But for everybody else, here’s the big news: Phish Food AND Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation are both turning 25 years old!
Ready? Now’s the part when we all sing Happy Birthday together…
A Quarter Century?!
A quarter century ago, two remarkable things happened on the same amazing night in Burlington, Vermont: We launched Phish Food and Phish launched WaterWheel. The two have been swimming in the same direction ever since.
That’s 25 years of music-inspired euphoria, 25 years of unforgettable moments, 25 years of hard work, 25 years of giving back to the community, 25 years of thinking globally and acting locally, 25 years of delighting taste buds, 25 years of cleaning up Vermont’s waterways, and 25 years of gloriously fudgy fish forever frolicking in gooey marshmallow, caramel, and chocolate. (Writing these words made us hungry and grateful at the same time.)
An Iconic Flavor
Speaking of fudge fish, marshmallow, chocolate ice cream, and caramel swirls, Phish Food remains, year in and year out, one of our most popular flavors. Like the band it was named after, Phish Food has legions of fans who have shown zero sign of wavering in their devotion.
How was Phish Food brought to life? It was a true collaboration between Ben, Jerry, our Flavor Gurus, and the guys in the band. Never for a moment was Phish going to accept a concoction that was anything less than perfect. That drive for excellence explains why Phish and their flavor are still going strong.
Wanting to do something the right way, whether it’s making music, making ice cream, or giving back to the community, also explains why, from the very beginning, the band decided that a portion of their proceeds from Phish Food would go right to their nonprofit, the WaterWheel Foundation.
The Wheel Keeps Spinning
Phish has its roots in Vermont, and WaterWheel was created to oversee the band’s extensive charitable work and environmental activism in its home state. (A lot of their work was, and still is, connected to cleaning up Lake Champlain and Vermont waterways, efforts that inspired the foundation’s name.) Over time, though, through its Touring Division, WaterWheel expanded to raise funds for selected local non-profits at every stop along every Phish tour.
The essence of WaterWheel is the fans. Beth Montuori Rowles, executive director of WaterWheel and GM of Phish, Inc., credits Phish fans with embracing WaterWheel’s work from the start. “We’ve always been so supported by the fan base. So much trust, so much love, so much support. Not a day goes by that we don’t get donations from the fans, even when the band isn’t on tour. It's part of what it means to be a Phish fan—you donate to WaterWheel.”
So Many Special Moments
Ben & Jerry’s, Phish, and WaterWheel, with unending enthusiastic support from fans of the band and fans of the ice cream, have been able to do some amazing things over the past 25 years. Here are some highlights:
- Special “Surf and Turf” Phish Food to celebrate the 10th anniversary
- The “World’s Largest Cowbell Ensemble” to celebrate the 15th anniversary
- Bringing Phish Food and fun events to Phish festivals like Festival 8, Super Ball, Magnaball, Randall’s Island, and Bader Field
- Lots of fun collaborations with artist Jim Pollock
- Fun limited flavors like “Freezer Reprise” to celebrate The Baker’s Dozen
- “Strange Design” art contest to celebrate the launch of Non-Dairy Phish Food
- Partnering with our friends at HeadCount to register voters
Looking to the Future
This is a party, so let’s state the obvious: Turning 25 is a big deal! When you do something for that long, it’s worth taking a moment to look around and celebrate how far you’ve come, and to appreciate how you got where you are.
“I think the Phish fan base is so unique and so charitable and so amazing,” Montuori Rowles told us, “and I really hope that WaterWheel, and the way that the band has prioritized giving back as part of the way it does business, can continue to inspire and make a difference in people’s lives.”
Whether you’ve been inspired to create your own local nonprofit, as Montuori Rowles said many Phish fans have done, or you’re simply inspired to buy some more Phish Food and gather around the pint with friends and family, every single one of us can be part of spreading joy and making a difference. Here’s to Phish Food and to WaterWheel—and to 25 more amazing years of having fun and giving back.