My Last Breyers Brand Ice Cream Cone

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.

30 thoughts on “My Last Breyers Brand Ice Cream Cone

  1. Eek! Eek! You mentioned The Plush Horse! I’ve been going there since I was a little girl! It’s right by my grandma’s house. Love it!

    Okay, so I have a low threshold for happiness. So sue me.

    The Plush Horse rocks! Whoo-hoo!

  2. Thanks. I will buy an ice cream machine. Thank you for providing the link! Breyers has lost me as a customer. I thought it was only the double-churn sell air scam. Now I know why it doesn’t taste good anymore after looking at the ingredients. The blue label used to be the garbage stuff, now it is all Breyers ice cream. Good-buy Breyers. It is is about TASTE and NATURAL ingredients. Maybe the masses will continue to buy… maybe. Don’t expect to charge more for it. Those days are numbered as more and more figure out the scam.

  3. I don’t eat ice cream very often, but I always depended on Breyers when I got the urge..I had been noticeing it wasn’t right and finally read ingredients, imagine how horrified I was to see that it contained GUM! I threw the rest of it away. And I was going to ask them to continue to make as I remembered and call it Classic Breyers,(like Coke did when they learned they had screwed up) but there wasn’t anywhere to ‘contact’ them..and now I learn it is no longer Breyers…I won’t be buying it either.

  4. I used to work for Breyers when Kraft General Foods owned them. The Northwestern US was the last (and most difficult) phase of distribution to complete full nationwide product placement.
    It was a continuous process to educate grocers, employees, and consumers about the delicate state in which Breyers maintained it’s impeccable flavor and consistency, that is, avoiding “thermal shock” in which the product warms above 0 F, then is refrozen, allowing air to escape the unbound product, at which point ice crystals form as the product shrinks in volume, loosing it’s creamy texture and acquiring a gritty, unappealing appearance that actually looks and tastes like it has been melted and refrozen.
    We partnered with many grocers having sub-standard refrigeration, to whom we would give copious credit dollars and remove shrunken product in the interest of developing repeat customers and solidifying core nationwide distribution.
    As the Dairy Division of Kraft (Knudsen) we were a barely break-even prospect, and thus when coast to coast distribution was achieved and volume was driven to develop a sustainable base of consumers, the Frozen Desserts were sold off to Unilever, who promptly assessed a cost benefit analysis of product stabilization vs. loyal ice cream enthusiasts, and product stabilization won.
    The gums in ice cream actually help the product retain air through thaw/freeze cycles, at a worse offense of poor, ordinary, & average flavor, lacking the intensity and just made freshnes of the prior recipe.
    We were instrumental in the success of the public awareness campaign that made Breyer’s the No. 1 frozen dessert in the Northwest during the mid 1990′s, and I can say without a doubt the essence of the personnel from production through sales during that time was producing and promoting an all-natural product of exquisite quality, and it’s demise has been very disappointing.
    Although Ben & Jerry’s may have Unilever as a parent company, they retain control over their product quality, and is the only mass-marketed ice cream to be made with rBGH free dairy, a cause worthy of supporting.
    I have turned to homemade to recreate the tastes of fresh samples of just frozen product when being at the Breyer’s plant on tour.
    This recipe is one of my long time favorites- I use 1 cup 1/2 & 1/2 and 1 cup whipping cream, (instead of all whipping cream) then 2 cups nonfat milk (instead of 3%) to have that clean, intensely crisp flavor, all stirred up in a Donvier Ice Cream Maker-

    http://www.amazon.com/Donvier-837409W-1-Quart-Cream-Maker/dp/B00006484E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1283153080&sr=8-1

    Fantastic! Enjoy!

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-Mint-Chocolate-Chip-Ice-Cream/Detail.aspx

  5. Very interesting comment, ICMan. Thanks a lot!

    We have a close friend who comes to our Thanksgiving dinner just about every year. The tradition started back when we lived in Illinois, and now he travels 1,000 miles to Savannah to attend. In fact, he just firmed his flight arrangements on Saturday for this year’s Thanksgiving. Anyway, last year before Thanksgiving, he asked if there was anything that we needed for our kitchen for Thanksgiving. I said no– we’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner for over a decade, and our kitchen is fully stocked with just about every gadget that we need. In joking, I did mention that we wanted an ice cream maker, but not a freeze-and-crank model– I mentioned the Cuisinart compressor model listed in my original post.

    Well, a few days later, a huge, heavy package arrived from Amazon. Our friend called and said not to open it until he got there. It sat in the box for a month until Thanksgiving arrived. We picked him up from the Jacksonville airport, got back here, and opened it soon after. Of course, as I am sure you can tell from all the setup, he bought us the ice cream maker.

    So now, we have a Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker. This thing rocks!

    We make ice cream for every major holiday, much to the delight of our local relatives, and we make it about once a month otherwise… maybe more. In fact, I just polished off some coffee ice cream last night. It was so good!

    I’ve slowly been working on my recipes, using the Ben and Jerry’s cookbook and another book called The Best Ice Cream Cookbook Ever. I’ve got my vanilla down pretty well. It’s a cooked custard base with heavy cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. It is dense and rich, and is absolutely wonderful.

    I’ve made quite a bit of vanilla, but I’ve also tried some other flavors like butter pecan (failure, too gritty), maple walnut (meh… not enough maple flavor), chocolate (too pudding-like), coffee (good with instant coffee, better with real coffee).

    My favorite so far is Caribbean Coconut, which is from the second ice cream book I mentioned. I have hacked up their recipe, and improved it greatly. The recipe calls for shredded coconut, which I found too chewy, and for a lengthy process to infuse the cream with strong coconut flavors. I use toasted flaked coconut that I toast slowly in the oven at a low temperature, which gives a very nice coconut flavor while causing the coconut to lose its chewiness. The toasting imparts a wonderful flavor. I also skip the cream infusion, and instead use coconut cream from the Hispanic section of the grocery store. It is truly the best ice cream I have ever had. Maybe I’ll post the recipe… maybe.

    Thanks again for the comment!

    Mike

  6. I was so upset when I paid 5.99 a 1/2 gallon of Breyer’s Peach Ice Cream, and
    brought it home to serve on peach pie. The first bite told me that it now
    tasted like all the other crap ice creams on the market. The kind that if you let it sit out over night,
    it wouldn’t melt into liquid, but sticky gummy crap. I put the dish
    down, went to the freezer to read the ingredients, and sorry to say that after being
    a true undying fan to the ice cream, and always willing to pay even a higher price if I
    had to, will never again, let that ice cream be put into one of my shopping carts.
    I am so disappointed in the deceptions of greedy manufacturers. It is not all natural, so
    they should take it off their label and let their ice cream join their counterparts of
    icky sticky unnatural whatevers. It’s true , Breyer’s had sugar in
    their ice cream and a lot of sugar isn’t good for you, but it is an ingredient that we
    would recognize if we had to. Now our only option is to make our own, which might be better
    anyway because we could at least use organic sugar. Kathy

  7. I was also a true fan of Bryers Ice Cream and did not mind paying a premium price as I felt it was worth it because of the all natural ingredients. I was a little irked when they shrank the container size but let it slide, all the other companies were doing it also. I noticed something was wrong the last few times I ate there ice cream buy could not put my finger on it. I just happened to look at the ingredients and noticed they were adding something called natural tara gum. I felt ripped off, why mess with perfection. I wondered if it was added as some kind of filler to save costs. Either way I was not happy and returned the opened container to the supermarket and got my money back. I am not happy with Unilevers response for adding this new ingredient. Also, Bryers Cookies and Cream Ice cream contains hydrogenated oils and some other Bryers Ice Cream also contained Palm oil. How can they still claim to be all natural? I believe they are just trying to increase their bottom line at all costs. I hope everyone boycotts this product and shows them there deception will not be tolerated.

  8. Thanks for the comment, Bruce!

    I haven’t had any Breyer’s ice cream since I posted my original post, and I am confident that it is their loss.

    I don’t know if they have it wherever you live, but check out Blue Bunny (not Blue Bell) Premium All Natural Vanilla. Their ingredient list is longer than the Breyer’s of old, but there are no gums or syrups: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Grade A Nonfat Dry Milk, Egg Yolks, Natural Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Beans. It’s not bad. Kind of sweet for my tastes, but at least the texture is pretty much right.

    Take care!

    Mike

  9. By the way, I wanted to add that Ben and Jerry’s ice cream also now contains gums and thickeners. For their Vanilla, the ingredient list is Cream, Skim Milk, Liquid Sugar (Sugar, Water), Water, Egg Yolks, Fair Trade Certified (Tm) Vanilla Extract, Sugar, Guar Gum, Carrageenan.

    Guar Gum? Carrageenan?

    No thanks.

    Mike

  10. Wow, this was super interesting. Thanks guys for your work. I “was” also a die hard consumer of Bryers Ice cream and absolutly noticed the difference in texture “and” flavor. I thought to myself how weird it was and just shrugged it off thinking of all the possibilities why it could be (shipping, thawed and refrozen, timing maybe it was just me etc) today I looked again at the ingredients and shure enough noticed that they added tara gum so I came and looked it up online and found you guys.
    Same old same old. The world seems to be going to pots with these people that are so only worried about profits instead of quality and morals, and staying true to their original recipe. So me too may just start making my own ice cream at home like my daughter has for a few years now.
    Hats off to you guys. We have to stand up for our beliefs and stop supporting, as much as possible, these corporate giants and make more effort to support our local, organic, home grown suppliers.

  11. Sadly, I join the ranks of former Breyer’s aficionados. Breyer’s mint chocolate chip was by far my favorite flavor of ice cream ever mass marketed. I would devour HALF GALLONS (not 48oz) containers at a pace of seven or eight a month. Even with the occasional mishandled and temperature shocked purchase, which still had an excellent taste in spite of the degraded texture, I knew that I was consuming a product manufactured and distributed with integrity. Unilever has destroyed the brand, and obviously has chosen to ignore Breyer’s loyalist, not even allowing us to make comments directly to them via there website. Go to the Breyer’s website and click on the “contact us” link… You will find yourself locked in an automated response engine with no means to express your concerns or issues. Robert’s Love of Breyer’s Ice Cream; Born 1979, Dead after 32 Years, 2011.

  12. Sadly, Blue Bunny has joined the masses and started adding crap to their ice cream too. HFCS, gums, artificial colors, you name it. I couldn’t believe it so I checked out their website and sure enough, every flavor, even the venerable “Premium Vanilla” is full of crap.

    Homemade is DEFINITELY the way to go.

  13. I, too, have now joined the ranks of the Breyers boycott. What a shame. I used to LOVE that thin, kind of dry melt in your mouth texture of Breyers. Now I feel like after a bowl of it that I have a layer of goo stuck in my mouth. It’s like night and day texturally.

    I was such a loyal customer too. Not because I felt obligated to them, but because their ice cream was so good. Now it is just another box of 99 cent garbage.

    Not sure why this bothers me as much as it does… I don’t know what I’m going to buy now. I live in Ohio and all I normally see at the grocery is more gummy garbage. I sent Breyers a message and told them they lost a long time customer.

  14. Count me in. I just bought a 1/2 gallon (yeah, right) of Butter Pecan. I had not purchased any Breyers for quite some time, but the first spoonful had me doubting my old taste buds. Then, I looked at the ingredients, HOLY CRAP ! Well it was a good run (first tried it in the early 70s and was hooked). Maybe a miracle will happen and they will bring back the original recipes ! Sad to see a great brand lose it’s way. RIP.

  15. First off let me say I work in the transportation industry. Ice cream travels in refrigerated trucks, out of refrigerated warehouses, to your grocery store who may let it sit in the dock a few and then stick it in their freezer. It has to be held at the perfect temp or it gets grainy, sticky, and gross. Tara Gum keeps this from happening. Even though Breyers is natural they want to make sure when the ice cream gets to you it is not a yucky mess of crap you do not want to eat. If you want the real thing make it at home or go to a store that makes it. You have to put something in it to keep it stable.

  16. Jen, in all those years that Breyers has been transported, why would it be such a problem now? Grocers should quit hiring lazy workers and bad managers. Why should anyone have to eat something that is nasty because they are too lazy to handle it properly? I had bought some containers of ice cream that had gone bad but not that many. I’m not buying Breyers anymore because it tastes so bad and the texture is like having a coating of slime in my mouth. I came across this site when I decided it couldn’t be my imagination when the butter pecan is sitting in my freezer and I don’t have the urge to eat it. It doesn’t pack on the cone right either. Something about it doesn’t seem so yummy. So thanks for this information everyone and I’m going to try and make my own ice cream.

  17. I buy Publix brand. It is awesome, scoops fine.

    Has guar gum in it, but this doesn’t seem to affect the texture (I was an ice cream scooping professional too! Worked at Baskins…loved that job. Hail Jaime!). It’s about half the price of Breyers and so much easier than making your own, and cheaper too (don’t mind the making so much as the cleanup after).

  18. Honestly, I didn’t care if my ice cream thawed a little bit and had crystals because it still made a great tasting shake. You could always make a shake with just a spoon. With the gum, forget it; clumps stick to the spoon. And the taste. Uck

  19. Noticed the difference in chocolate chip and vanilla fudge and did find a way to send them an email. Got an almost immediate response at 10 pm July 9, 2012. Here is their reply:

    Hello MR RONALD CIECKA,

    Thank you for contacting us regarding Breyers Ice Cream .

    Breyers® products have consistently delivered high-quality ingredients, great flavors and smooth creaminess that our fans love and we assure you that we remain committed to using high-quality ingredients in all our Breyers® products. Our Ice Cream varieties and new Frozen Dairy Dessert options continue to use fresh milk, cream and sugar.

    What distinguishes our Frozen Dairy Dessert from our Ice Cream is that it’s blended in a whole new way to create a smoother texture, tends to have lower fat, and maintains a better texture throughout distribution…from our freezer to your home freezer.

    Breyers® offers a wide range of products to meet the different taste, nutritional, and value needs of consumers. Many flavors will not be converting to Frozen Dairy Dessert, including: Natural Vanilla, Natural Strawberry, Chocolate, French Vanilla, Vanilla/Chocolate/Strawberry, Mint Chocolate Chip, Homemade Vanilla, Coffee, Vanilla/Chocolate, Lactose-Free Vanilla, Triple Chocolate, and NASCAR® Checkered Flag.

    Your comments are extremely important to us and we will share them with our staff. We thank you for your interest in our products and we will be sending you a complimentary coupon via U.S. Postal mail which you should receive within 7-10 business days.

    Sincerely,

    Your friends at Breyers

    The vanilla seems OK, plan to check out the coffee. I am done with Chocolate chip and vanilla fudge.

  20. I rarely eat ice cream because it bothers my tummy. However, I was craving some the other night and Breyers has always been the only brand worth it for me. I got Butter Pecan. It seemed soft, so I left it in the freezer overnight. Still soft. I turned my freezer temp down. Still soft while everything else in there was rock solid. Made a cone anyway. Immediate disappointment. This is not Breyers. Nasty. Totally heartbroken. There used to be four or five ingredients, now there’s a whole paragraph!

  21. Breyers was on sale at Publix today, buy one for $5.99, get one free, so I happily bought 2 containers. After tasting the chocolate and coffee ice cream, I thought there must be something wrong with my taste buds. I asked my husband, “Is this what the ice cream usually tastes like?” He agreed that it tasted nothing like the old Breyers. Jen must be a Unilever lackey to defend a big company’s right to bastardize our food in the quest for profits. We shouldn’t have to lower our standards or make it at home. By the way, Talenti Gelato is yummy and will be in my freezer in place of ice cream. Breyer’s is no longer my go-to brand.

  22. Ditto to all of the above– done with Breyers– feel betrayed. Had same experience as Morgan with the Butter Pecan just the other night. Had no idea all of this had changed. My rare ice cream indulgences will now be home made only. No more chemical crap.

  23. Just purchased the birthday cake flavor and Rocky road flavor Breyers on sale at Publix and noticed how soft it was, even in the back of the freezer; On occasion I purchase the Publix brand birthday cake flavor which is less expensive, a larger carton, and actually tastes like ice cream! So grossed out by how terrible this was, so I searched ‘what is wrong with Breyer’s’ and found this site. Won’t be buying Breyer’s again either :(
    Lisa

  24. Blue Bunny all natural vanilla is still all natural, and melts naturally. We only use that or make our own gelatos.

  25. We are a Family From Trenton, Ga and we just bought a brand new carton of Breyers Chocolate frozen dairy product, and it had a strange taste, and we found knots of long hair throughout the frozen dairy. We had to report it to the complaints board, and found that some body else had the same problem in their vanilla! We only pray, that No one gets sick. It Could be contaminated! NEVER again will we buy Breyers!

  26. Inadvertently bought Breyers “natural” “vanilla” two days ago and it tasted terrible like a chemical experiment. Ate a very small amount only. The next day I tried calling Breyers at 1-800-931-2826 (their phone number is buried, hidden, hard to find), the rep was so arrogant I had to ask for a supervisor, the supervisor was so arrogant I just had to hang up. They are very defensive of their “product” and non-listening. Deception, arrogance, the almightly dollar, what a company. I assure you companies like that would never list the true ingredients on products or refrain from calling it “ice cream” unless the government FORCED them to comply. Bastard CEOs.

  27. I fondly remember, as a six year old child in NYC, going into a local park and buying Vanilla Ice Cream from the Good Humor man. He would retrieve the Dixie Cup from a small cream colored insulated rolling cart that had heavy wooden doors with metal latches. Then, when I opened the small cup by pulling on the tab to open the cardboard top, my nose would be greeted by the exquisite Vanilla notes of the ice cream–a full aroma of warmth and comfort!
    Nowadays, that experience is lacking.
    I believe that maybe Breyer’s had that same aspect of quality a long time ago–but now, even with their ” natural ingredients only label”–
    that quality is but a memory.

  28. I’m glad that this discussion exists, but sad for the situation that drove me here. My wife mistakenly bought Breyer’s “Homemade” Vanilla recently, instead of “Natural” Vanilla, which is the only mass marketed ice cream that I find tolerable.

    I have been noticing recently that cartons of “Natural” Vanilla have had large air spaces in them. In one carton the space was so large that I filled the carton to the top with water and immediately poured the water out and measured it at 10 ozs, a greater than 20% shrinkage. I surmised, correctly I’m sure, that it was mishandled in transport and/or storage. The addition of tara gum did not protect the “Natural” vanilla, which is the only product that could possibly be made in a home kitchen, if one could even buy tara gum.

    I think that Kathy and K (same person?) are unfair to peg Jen as an apologist for Unilever/Breyer. She simply described the hazards of mass transport and Breyer’s reason for using tara gum. She clearly summed up by writing “If you want the real thing make it at home or go to a store that makes it. You have to put something in it to keep it stable.” To her last sentence I would have added “if you insist upon marketing nationwide.”

    My wife and I have learned:
    – always read the list of ingredients. If there are more than five, reject.
    – if one of the ingredients is any gum be very suspicious.
    – if it’s not explicitly labeled “ice cream” then it is not ice cream
    – ignore words like “natural,” “homemade, and “organic” on the packaging.

  29. Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean ice cream only has milk,skim milk,sugar,egg yolks,natural vanilla extract and vanilla bean specks. This is the only ice cream I have found that does not have other stuff in it.Their other flavors and even regular vanilla have the thickeners in them.

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