For the love of ice cream



Ice cream enthusiasts Ben Hirdler and Jacob Levang serve as president and vice president, respectively, of Ben and Jared’s Ice Cream Alliance.


Those looking to get involved with a student organization usually first look into Greek Life, academic clubs, intramural sports or other similar groups. But students may not have heard of one student organization at UNI that is devoted to a popular dessert.

Ben and Jared’s Ice Cream Alliance was founded in the spring of 2017 by friends Ben Hirdler and Jared Riter. The two came up with the idea one night while indulging in one of their favorite pastimes: eating ice cream together.

“We noticed that Ben and Jared’s sounds like Ben and Jerry’s, so it kind of started like a joke,” said Hirdler, who is a senior majoring in English and philosophy. “Then I did all the paperwork and I said, ‘Hey, let’s do this!’ And then we just kind of did it.”

Although the organization has kept Ben and Jared in the name, it is no longer under the leadership of both its namesakes. Hirdler has taken over as the group’s president, and Jacob Levang has assumed the position of vice president, also known as president junior.

“The goal of the organization is just to bring people together and have a good time, eat ice cream, really enjoy themselves and just talk with people they might not have met before otherwise” said Levang, a junior business management major. “It’s really just about having fun, because [Ben and I are] both involved in organizations that are just like work, work, work all the time. So, we’re just like, ‘Let’s just take a breath, step back and just have a good time and not be so serious.’”

Group meetings consist of members talking and eating ice cream together in a casual environment. They enjoy trying different flavors of ice cream and decide which ones are the best, Levang said. Although their name is a parody of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the group does not discriminate against any other brands of ice cream.

“For the average college student, ice cream is just a way to kind of get away from responsibilities sometimes,” Levang said. “I’d say for me the best thing to do on the weekend is to go out to eat and get pizza with friends and then get ice cream and just forget about everything […] I remember I had a test last night—I have a night class—so me and this girl who’s also an RA in Bender with me, we went to get ice cream in Rialto afterwards and we enjoyed our ice cream and complained about our test.”

On Sunday, Sept. 30, Ben and Jared’s Ice Cream Alliance will hold their first formal recruitment event: an ice cream social on top of the Union. From 2 to 4 p.m., anyone is welcome to come and get a free ice cream treat. If they’re interested in joining the organization, they can sign up to request more information.

During the fall semester, the group hopes to get together around once a month to visit local ice cream parlors. In October, they plan to go to Hansen’s Dairy Moo Roo in Waterloo, according to Hirdler.

Hirdler says that by being a part of Ben and Jared’s, he’s learned that he can get to know people even through a topic as silly as ice cream.

“Ice cream for me is kind of a de-stressor,” Hirdler said. “If I’m having a bad day, the first thing I’ll do to cheer myself up is go to Four Queens or something—it’s the first thing that comes to mind. It’s that quintessential dessert snack.”

Although Hirdler and Levang are open to all flavors of ice cream, Hirdler considers mint chocolate chip to be his favorite, while Jacob enjoys lemon and cherry nut.

“I hope [the organization] keeps going—just to kind of leave a legacy behind in a way,” Hirdler said. “I hope it’s like a resource for people to get together and destress and have fun.”