Daily Tedium

Ice Cream Fakery

Why you can't find the phrase "ice cream" anywhere on some varieties of Breyers, and whether it being a "frozen dairy dessert" should bother you.

By Ernie Smith

A couple of months ago, I was scooping myself a bowl of ice cream, when I discovered something interesting and a little disturbing: Nowhere on the label did the ice cream describe itself as “ice cream.”

The label was for Breyers, a brand that has a long, lengthy history in the ice cream manufacturing game and a pledge to use “high quality ingredients.” But this pledge had been put into doubt by the fact that Breyers couldn’t describe what it was selling as ice cream, but rather “frozen dairy dessert.”

So, what’s the deal? The website Brand Eating explained the whole issue back in 2015. Basically, some of Breyers’ flavors fail to meet a basic criteria for ice cream set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: One, that the dessert is make up of 10 percent milkfat, and that the ice cream has an overrun of 100 percent or less—that is, the ice cream shouldn’t be mostly made of more than 50 percent air bubbles after it’s whipped.

As for why they’d do something like this, New York Times writer Dan Barry got an explanation from Unilever, the company that owns the brand, a couple of years ago.

“People really drove that decision,” Nick Soukas, the company’s onetime director of ice cream, told Barry. That is, according to the company’s research, people wanted a smoother texture than what you can get with normal ice cream. Hence, that’s how we get “frozen dairy dessert.”

(Soukas has since moved on to be in charge of skin cleansing for the company, which sorta makes sense based on this decision.)

So why did Breyers fall out of “ice cream” contention? Well, this clip linked in the Times piece points out two issues: The length of the ingredient list, which includes a lot of extra preservatives, and (because it was left out overnight) the literal deflation of the ice cream.

Despite the fact it had basically been untouched the night before, it was taking up roughly half the package now—because all the air had fluttered out. It’s sort of depressing to think about.

Looks like I’ll be sticking with Klondike Bars—also made by Unilever.

Ernie Smith

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Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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