Well, I just ate my last Breyers brand ice cream cone. I have no intentions of purchasing their ice cream again at any point in the future.
See, back in 2006, Breyers was acquired by Unilever, the same company that owns Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike bars, and the Fudgsicle and Popsicle brands.
A couple years back I noticed that my favorite Breyers flavor– coffee– had changed. I had been eating it as long as I could remember, and for some reason it seemed different. Unconsciously, I stopped buying it. I didn’t know exactly what was different about it, but to me it seemed as though it was more ice milk than ice cream. The creaminess was gone, and the flavor was off. I figured that they had started whipping more air into the product (I’m not going to call it ice cream), and that accounted for the change in texture and flavor.
Well, the other day, Jaime and I picked up a half gallon of Breyers, which in actuality is 25% less than a half gallon, coming in at 1.5 quarts by volume. I say by volume because they certainly are whipping much, much more air into the product than they used to. It’s pretty obvious– if you put your lips up to a cone and breath in, well… you can breath in. It’s definitely much, much more airy than it has ever been.
She hands me my cone the other day and says, “I had a hard time scooping it. It wouldn’t come out of the scoop like it normally does.” Now, when Jaime says that, I believe her. She worked at Baskin-Robbins for a while when she was in college, and I am absolutely certain she knows how to properly scoop ice cream.
So I scooped up a cone last night, and noticed the same thing. Granted, I’ve never scooped ice cream professionally, but I’m pretty sure I know how to ball up a scoop of ice cream. I’ve got lots of experience. When you scoop Breyers, it just doesn’t form into a nice ball like real ice cream should. It kind of flakes away and shreds up as you scoop, and getting it to take on any shape is virtually impossible.
As I walked upstairs with my cone last night, the Breyers had chunks fall off the cone four times. I had to stop, head back to the kitchen, get a paper towel, and clean the floor as I walked. Something was definitely wrong.
I ended up doing some research. At some point, Breyers changed their recipe from the standard ingredients. Instead of being pure, clean ice cream consisting of cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla, Breyers now adds something that they call “tara gum” to their product. Tara Gum, it turns out, is actually a product formulated from Caesalpinia Spinosa, which is some sort of tree or shrub. Either way, tara gum is not cream, it is not sugar, and it is not flavor; it has no business being in ice cream.
I did a search for something like Breyers doesn’t scoop and ended up at this page, a post from a site called A Daily Scoop. The post details the addition of tara gum and the company’s supposed reason for adding tara gum, and has a couple hundred comments from people who have no intentions upon purchasing Breyers again. If you are (were) a Breyer’s fan, it is definitely worth a skim.
Breyers says that the reason they added tara gum is that during shipment, ice cream that dips below the appropriate temperature and then is subsequently refrozen has a poorer texture. They say that they reformulated their recipes due to customer complaints. Well, the logical solution in that situation is to not let a dairy product such as ice cream get to a temperature that does not maintain its state of frozenness. Instead, though, Breyers has added tara gum instead of making sure their products are properly handled during transport. Likewise, my bet is that tara gum is cheaper than cream, and allows them to whip even more air into their product, thereby charging us for more air than cream.
I went over to as site run by Breyers, Ice Cream USA, and read the FAQ. I was always under the impression that FAQ stood for Frequently Asked Questions, but I can only deduce– from the number of comments on A Daily Scoop– that Breyers FAQ is actually Frequently Answered Questions. There is no mention of tara gum in their FAQ, no mention of the change in texture, and no mention of why the ice cream just doesn’t taste like it used to taste. Obviously, this question has been asked of them time and time again, yet it doesn’t make it to their FAQ.
Anyway, I’m not buying Breyers anymore. The flavor is different. The texture is different. It is just not right, at least according to my memory.
So what ice cream can I buy? None.
I can’t buy Ben & Jerrys ice cream because they’re owned by the same company, their products are way overpriced, their ice cream is loaded with too much crap like candy, swirls, and other kid-only ingredients, and I personally just don’t like their founders’ politics.
I can’t buy Häagen-Dazs, and it has nothing to do with their ice cream. A couple of years ago, I signed up for a coupon for a free container of their product. Like most free offers, I signed up using an email address that I could trace back if I were to receive spam on the account. To this day, I still receive email to haagen-dazs at mydomain.com. They obviously sold my email address, or had their mailing list servers compromised. I contacted them and they not only denied that they sold my information or had some sort of a security breach, but they denied they ever even offered a coupon! Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiight– a spammer just happened to make up the email address haagen-dazs. Pfft.
So, I’m planning on buying an ice cream maker. I’m not really interested in one of the makers that require you to freeze a container for hours on end. Those manufacturers of those machines don’t tell you that most residential freezers have to be set as low as possible, and likely can’t even get cold enough to properly freeze ice cream. Likewise, I’m not interested in some sort of salt-and-ice combo just to make some ice cream.
Here’s what I want: Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker. Plug it in, add your ingredients, and turn it on. Once it’s soft serve, pop it in the freezer until it’s rock hard (that’s how I like my ice cream).
Either that or I’m going to have The Plush Horse pack some ice cream in dry ice and FedEx it to me.
I haven’t decided. But Breyers is definitely out for me, and if you like your ice cream to actually resemble ice cream, it should be out for you too.