Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It's True, the Americone Dream Has Died (An Ice Cream Review)

I’m starting to wonder if Weis perhaps abuses its ice cream on the way to the freezer. Because I’ve now had three or four icy-gritty-textured experiences from them that I was certainly not expecting. A few of the Blue Bunny Duff Goodman pints suffered from this sad fate, as well as Turkey Hill’s Chocolate Marshmallow frozen yogurt, which I raved about when I bought it from Wegmans.

Granted, I have gotten some fine ice creams from there (Edy’s and Turkey Hill’s new Baklava Greek froyo), so maybe those texture issues really did reflect manufacturer quality. But Ben & Jerry’s? What happens when your Ben & Jerry’s is terrible?

That’s right. I had a bad Ben & Jerry’s experience, and this time it wasn’t my fault.

I picked up Americone Dream, which I’ve been ignoring for a while. Firstly, because I get it confused with Late Night Snack, whose fudge-covered potato chips sound repulsive. Actually, they’re basically the same flavor, except Americone Dream has waffle cones in place of chips and vanilla ice cream instead of vanilla bean. Good thing our celebrity hosts are so creative, otherwise they’d just copy off each other all the time. (That’s the second reason--celebrity hype and Stephen Colbert’s face on the pint don’t do much for me.)

So anyway, why was this so terrible? How can you possibly go wrong with “Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Covered Waffle Cone Pieces & a Caramel Swirl”?

The components are all there. There’s a decent caramel swirl visible as soon as you open the pint, and the waffle cone pieces are absolutely everywhere--almost annoyingly so. At first I thought they were the main reason I was having trouble scooping. But no one’s going to complain about getting too many mix-ins, so I forged ahead.

After a good fifteen minutes of grunting, my arms were sore and I’d only managed to extract half the pint. What’s more, my scoops weren’t scoops, they came out as smallish blocks of ice cream and teeny, tiny flakes of vanilla. Where was the creamy texture that I love B&J’s for?

Well, it simply didn’t exist in this pint. I spent the whole time trying to break the ice cream apart with my spoon and then chewing it--yes, chewing, even when there were no waffle cone pieces. I could tell the vanilla ice cream was supposed to have a nice, robust flavor, but here it just tasted stale and gritty.

I don’t think the grit was from the waffle cone pieces, either, although they did add an interesting texture. They weren’t really crunchy, more chewy. I think their texture would be really cool in a creamier ice cream (like I’m sure it’s supposed to be), but here they were actually about the same texture as the base (yes it was that bad!). Amidst the staleness of the base the fudge was almost entirely lost. A sad day indeed for chocolate lovers.

A sad day for caramel lovers, too. The swirl was there, yes, but not in all its usual gooey, thick B&J’s glory. It was frozen into the vanilla ice cream and suffered much like the waffle cones (and indeed the entire pint). Properly handled, it would have been rich and sweet, but not this time.

I gave up scooping after half a pint (usually I go for at least 3/4 if now the whole thing...). I put my bowl on top of our pellet stove. Then I held it in front of the stove, where the hot air blows out. It melted a little, but I still found myself exerting undue force to break off a spoonful. The melted areas were slightly creamier, as were the caramel-containing pockets. But overall this was a major disappointment. Even my Heath Bar Crunch from last summer was better than this. I may have to buy another pint from a different store, because I really don’t think this one was a fair representation. Sorry, Stephen Colbert.
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