Home Supermarket Swindle Supermarket Swindle: Are You Sure That’s Ice Cream?

Supermarket Swindle: Are You Sure That’s Ice Cream?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

So, #bgg2wlarmy member @ArriannaMarie hipped me to this, and man… listen. I literally laughed.

From MousePrint.org:

When product manufacturers want to cut costs or increase their profits, they can do one of several things. Many don’t want to raise prices because of the consumer backlash and possible reduction in sales. So, many choose to downsize the product as we have demonstrated here. Others take a less conventional approach and reformulate their product so that it is cheaper to produce and distribute.

Breyers downsized their half-gallons of ice cream first to 56 ounces and then again to 48 ounces around 2008.

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original post.

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original post.

Now they have taken a new tack. They are reformulating many of their flavors.

Take a look at “old” Breyer’s Vanilla Fudge Twirl ice cream:

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article

Now take a look at the new package of “Vanilla Fudge Twirl”:

credit; mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article.

credit; mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article.

The new one is no longer even called “ice cream” but is now “frozen dairy dessert.” It is no longer “all natural” either. And the vanilla ice cream claim has been replaced with a “vanilla flavor claim.”

Under federal law, to be called “ice cream”, a product must meet a certain standard of identity, which in this case requires that there be at least 10% milk fat in the product. That generally would come from the cream in the product. If the product does not meet the federal “recipe” for ice cream, it has to be called something else. In this case, they are calling it frozen dairy dessert which has no federal definition (other than it does not meet the standards to be called ice cream.)

Here are the ingredients statements from both vanilla fudge twirl packages:

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article.

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article.

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article

credit: mouseprint.org. click photo to view original article


So. Let’s talk about these ingredients, shall we?

First, let’s be clear – ice cream should be little more than cream, milk, egg yolk, sugar and flavor. And, by flavor, I mean “vanilla,” “coffee,” “chocolate,” “berries,” – ahem – “bourbon,” something, whatever. In that order. The more ingredients there are than that in ice cream, the higher my eyebrow raises.

That being said, neither cream nor egg yolk come cheap. They just don’t. From a business standpoint, limiting an ice cream brand’s need to rely heavily on those ingredients makes good business sense. Is it fair to their loyal customers? Not if they didn’t make them aware of the change, absolutely not. No one inspects the exact same brand they always buy at the store every single time they buy it. If you go to your favorite store, walk down your favorite aisle, go in your favorite freezer on your favorite shelf and see your brand there… unless you’ve been burned before, you’re not going to reach for that product and inspect it from side to side. You just.. don’t. It’s unfair to assert otherwise. Who would notice?

If you’re cutting out all of the expensive ingredients in the ice cream, I have to wonder… are you also dropping the price, as well? And, considering the list of ingredients here, 48oz container or not, this isn’t worth much… and I’ll tell you why.

Ice cream is supposed to be highly caloric. Cream, milk, egg yolk (the fatty part of the egg)? That’s supposed to be fatty! If I pick up a clean brand of ice cream, and that joint has less than 15 grams of fat in a half-cup serving, I’m probably going to put it back. 3 grams of fat in ice cream is a major red flag. And that’s when I have to turn to the ingredients list.

Carob bean gum, tara gum and guar gum are known thickeners that add viscosity (a kind of creamy, fatty texture without the fat) to a liquid. (In fact, you can bet your bottom dollar that thae tara gum is doing the same thing for the “fudge twirl sauce” that it’s doing for the “frozen dairy dessert.”) Carrageenan – something we’ve discussed here, before – an ingredient extracted from wood pulp, seaweed and moss, is known to combine with water to form a gel-like texture. It brings the creamy and the smooth. Whey – you know the liquid stuff that tends to float above your greek yogurt before you stir it? that’s whey – is going to add milkiness to the mixture. It’s a great way to add milkiness to something that’s running low on milk. Corn syrup is still syrup – it’s thick. It adds thickness and liquid to an ice-cream-like mixture that is likely to be running low on the very things meant to make it milky and creamy – milk and cream.

What am I getting at? There’s a reason why this “dessert” has five different kinds of thickening agents instead of one, and we talked about it before in terms of sugar. Ingredients are listed on labels in order of volume. The more there is of any ingredient, the higher up it has to appear in the ingredient list. Much like how you’ll easily find 4 different kinds of sugar in a brand, and those four kinds of sugar will be scattered among the list somewhere near the end, if you have five different kinds of thickeners to an “ice cream” – and I’m specifically saying “ice cream” instead of whatever this stuff is called because I’m convinced that some of this stuff is being pulled by other brands, as well – then you don’t have to list any particular thickener as the primary ingredient in the product.

The amount of cream necessary to make ice cream is far more than it takes to make milk. Breyers was already cheating by having more milk than cream and adding whey to make up for it, but that’s nowhere near as heinous as everything required to make the so-called “frozen dairy dessert” indicative of the “quality” the brand has been known for “since 1866.”

What do I think? Ice cream is a treat. A gooey, flavorful, creamy, decadent treat. There is space for a clean, flavorful treat in a clean eating lifestyle, but acknowledge that because of the ingredients, it should come at a hefty price tag. It shouldn’t have a ton of sugar in single serving. One of my favorite brands of ice cream is almost $7 for two cups. And, since I ain’t ballin’, ice cream is not a regular thing in my house. I’ve even considered making semi-freddo – the kind of ice cream you make when you have no ice cream maker – at home, but last time I tried… it turned into a food fight in my house, and I now have PTSD (and probably still have bits of cream in my hair… gross.) But that’s even more expensive, and it’s a rarity that I have all of those ingredients in the house at the same time.

In short, I’ve had to resign ice cream to a rarity, and I’m okay with that. What about you? Do you have a favorite clean brand of ice cream? Spill it!

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Charlotte August 15, 2013 - 3:04 PM

As a long time Breyer’s lover….I have noticed a serious downgrade in the quality of the flavor over the last few years. I’ve started making my own, but I haven’t quite figured out how to get it to freeze as nicely as commercial ice cream does.

And yes, my recipes all include eight eggs and two types of cream!

Gloria August 15, 2013 - 4:07 PM

Great Post! I pointed this out to my family a couple of years ago. Look at the wording (frozen treat, or frozen dessert) and the ingredients. I used to buy Edy’s slow churned because it was low calories and low fat, then I started reading the ingrediants and realized the crap in it and opted to eat real ice cream or gelato with real ingredients and just eat less. I only buy pint size and thats for the whole family. Being that it’s richer, we get satiated faster with less. I will go to whole foods or Fairway just to get my specialty indulgences where they have more options of natural ingredient icecream.

Simone August 15, 2013 - 4:27 PM

Ice cream is a treat and when I want some I go for the real thing. I don’t believe in fat free or sugar free ice cream. What is the point of that? For all that they have to do to make it fat free or sugar free you are better off eating a small portion of the real thing.

roz August 15, 2013 - 4:29 PM

Haagan-Daz Vanilla clean……expensive but clean

roz August 15, 2013 - 4:30 PM

Also clean from Marble Slab or Cold Stone the vanilla

Monica August 15, 2013 - 6:06 PM

I believe ice cream is a treat. Since it’s a treat I don’t bother with “low fat” or “low calorie” or “non-fat” versions. When I don’t make my own (from cream+sugar+eggs) I get Talenti Gelato.

Talenti Gelato: Tahitian Vanilla Bean
Ingredients: Milk, sugar, cream, dextrose, vanilla, lemon, carob gum.


Erika Nicole Kendall August 16, 2013 - 12:37 PM

Dextrose and carob bean gum strike you as “clean” ingredients? That’s sugar and thickener. Why would ice cream need a thickener, or a secondary source of sugar?

CreoleSoul August 15, 2013 - 6:44 PM

This is why I only eat Blue Bell ice cream. They still sell a true 1/2 gallon and they use real ingredients.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 16, 2013 - 12:37 PM

I’m not entirely certain that’s true, or that it can be said for every flavor of Blue Bell. Just sayin’.

Kami August 15, 2013 - 6:58 PM

I do not buy any dairy ice cream. The vegan ice cream has to many ingredients in it. My goal is to make my own. I am trying to indulge in desserts with real ingredients. I love coconut or cashew based ice creams.

Stephanie August 16, 2013 - 12:29 AM

Breyer’s and I are not friends. I’ve always been a bit lactose intolerant. However, the last time I ate Breyer’s I had such bad indigestion and gas I had to call in a half-day at work. I assumed it was just the dairy until I had homemade ice cream without incidence.

In case you want to try ice cream sans maker again, this method works pretty well: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/07/making-ice-crea-1/.

It is also annoying enough and time-consuming enough that you won’t do it more than twice a year.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 16, 2013 - 12:35 PM

Yep. I think Lebovitz’s method resembles that detailed in Silver Spoon… in which case I’ve tried it… and that’s exactly what erupted into a food fight in my house. Every time you have to go back and test it, you “taste it,” and then your spouse fights you because you keep “testing” it… and then NOBODY gets ice cream. ROFL

FE August 16, 2013 - 8:14 AM

I dont eat ice cream much so I didnt notice. I usually get frozen bars but I will be checking the ingredients from now on.

The Jaded NYer August 16, 2013 - 11:01 AM

Man, Breyers used to advertise that their ice cream had like FIVE ingredients and now this? Such a shame because I used to love this brand as a kid. I’ve long since switched to calorie-heavy Haagen Dazs; my butter pecan pusherman has not strayed from the tasty, pronounceable and identifiable ingredients it has always used, so when I indulge I know exactly what I’m eating.

Cheryl August 16, 2013 - 11:37 AM

I am so excited to have found your website. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in February and have completely changed my eating and the way I look at food.

I’ve always been a big fan of Clean Eating but now spend a lot of time analyzing ingredients in products when I shop.

I stand in front of the ice cream freezers in the supermarket and try to make a good decision. I recently noticed this Frozen Dairy Dessert classification on the side of the packages. I am not interested in phony ingredients. If I want to buy ice cream, I search for actual ice cream.

I LOVE your site. I found you on Tuesday when I was disgusted again watching Extreme Weightloss Makeover. I was searching online to see if anyone else thought this was ridiculous and unobtainable and came across your site. That’s an entirely separate topic. It’s sad to think that this show is considered reality. NO ONE should be expected to lose 100 pounds in 90 days. No surprise that they have tons of excess skin.

Everything you write about is my new truth. I have lost 47 pounds since my diagnosis by focusing on changing my eating habits and lifestyle. My blood sugar averages have dropped from 276 to 138 and continue to lower.

I am accountable for me. No one else. Sure, the scale can piss me off when it doesn’t move BUT I know that I am doing what is right for me and my body and I am rewarded with the instant gratification of my lowered blood sugar readings.

I am positive and propel myself forward with my new found momentum of “I can, I will, I do”.

My brother has lost over 120 pounds in the past 16 months. We inspire each other. His site is http://www.fatguygoesskinny.com. I can’t wait to share your site with him.

Here’s to heath and lots of good info and reading.



Kathrin Ivanovic August 16, 2013 - 12:27 PM

True Story!

Reading this made me ill and reminded me why I make my own ice cream! I don’t make it very often because it can last three months with how little of it I eat, which….THAT is crazy because I used to down an entire pint without even thinking. WOW how things have changed in my life.

Deb Bailey August 16, 2013 - 2:10 PM

I’ve noticed the shrinking ice cream packages for quite a while now. It’s really an insult to the consumer – do they really think no one notices? This new bait and switch is just as ridiculous.

Last year I invested in an ice cream maker and I love it. I make my own, mostly in the summer, and it’s so much better than the store brands. And it’s filling as well. Having real ice cream is a treat for me.

By the way, something similar is being done with yogurt too. A lot of brands have a bunch of extra crap to simulate the texture of yogurt. You really have to read every label these days.

KrysN August 16, 2013 - 2:15 PM

I was seriously just having this conversation with my coworkers about how I refuse to eat fat free ice cream. When I want ice cream I want it full of fat and pure decadent joy! No pretending over here!!!

Anyway, I will definitely be paying attention when I buy ice cream from now on. My niece mentioned that the chocolate in the neopolitan I picked for my husband’s birthday tasted weird. That should’ve been a flag.

And here is the ingredient list from the prairie farms website: Milkfat and nonfat milk, sugar, strawberries (strawberries, corn syrup, sugar, water, modified food starch, natural flavors, citric acid, carrageenan, and Red #40), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, whey, cocoa (processed with alkali), stabilized and emulsified by mono and diglycerides, guar gum, cellulose gum and carrageenan, natural and artificial flavors, Red #40, Blue #1 and vegetable annatto color. – See more at: http://www.prairiefarms.com/pd/732020/Neapolitan-Ice-Cream.aspx#sthash.ZiNOufnc.dpuf

I just didn’t think about it because we usually go to the homemade custard stands around here when we actually indulge.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 17, 2013 - 6:03 PM

The chocolate should be the LEAST of anyone’s concerns. Whew man….my face…:(

Tamara August 16, 2013 - 2:31 PM

Favorite ice cream? Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean…ingredients: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolk, ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract. All heaven!

Aiyana August 16, 2013 - 7:04 PM

This is ridiculous…… its really at the point where nothing is safe anymore….. it takes me forever to shop for food bc Im constantly trying to read labels and decide the best place to shop bc of crap like this smh…..

Esther August 17, 2013 - 3:18 AM

I was just talking about this very same topic with my sister the other day. I used to love Breyers when I was a Kid and then I noticed the change in the ingredient list. I’m not eating ice cream with guar gum in it and have given up on Breyers completely. If I don’t recognize what’s in it I’m not eating it.

Leelee August 17, 2013 - 5:55 PM

I would have to say my favorite is Haagan Daz. Really expensive and I only tend to buy when it’s on sale lol

Kathrin Ivanovic August 19, 2013 - 12:34 PM

I made ricotta for the first time this weekend – raw reduced fat milk and organic reduced fat buttermilk. I checked the back of the “organic” packaged ricotta and it had a lot of things int that I couldn’t even pronounce. It tastes better than ricotta I’ve purchased and has a lot less sodium. Only took 30 minutes to make.

Reading labels is terrifying but so very necessary these days!

Bobbi August 21, 2013 - 11:35 PM

I was so sad when I went home to visit family. Getting bryers was a rare treat when I was a kid and its been a tradition when we get together every couple years. I noticed the difference in taste right away and sure enough the ingredient list was full of crap now. Even my non clean eating family was disgusted by the sneaky switch. 🙁

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