Back in November/2013, I bought containers of what I thought was Breyers ice cream to go along with Thanksgiving pies and other desserts.
The next day, I confess I was going to have a little left over Breyers with lunch and I was startled by what I saw. While the classic Breyers black container looked the same at first glance, there were distinct differences…
For one – in the upper right corner where normally I would have seen “All Natural” emblazoned on the container, I now saw the word “Quality”.
In the lower left corner, I saw “Frozen Dairy Dessert” instead of “Ice cream”.
I wondered… What the heck is going on?
Apparently, the bean counters at Breyers owners, Unilever, are hard at work trying to find ways of reducing their costs. (FYI – Unilever is a huge conglomerate and other ice cream type brands that it owns include “Ben & Jerry’s”, “Good Humor”, Klondike Bars, Popsicle, Fruitare and Magnum)
By 2008, Breyers already had downsized the container size to 48 ounces while retaining (or increasing!) their prices
And here I thought it was bad enough that the container which had shrunk from the former standard 1/2 gallon (4 cups) size to a 3 cup package with increased price was bad enough of a trick to play on a poor consumer like me! Little did I guess what nefarious tricks I had to be on the watch out for!
Breyers’ owners have now included so many chemical additives and changed the formula so that their once classic ice cream no longer meets the US government definition of what can be called “Ice Cream”. If not “Ice Cream”, what is it??? Why it’s not “Frozen Dairy Dessert” !
I’m guessing that the chemical additives also gets in the way of legally asserting their “frozen dairy dessert” is all natural.
Hence the two critical changes to their container, eh?
I checked out the Breyers’ website: http://www.breyers.com/
Here on the website, I found an intriguing corporate semantics tap dance. Any photos of the products previously known as “Ice cream” are managed to be photographed and displayed so the new euphemism of “Frozen Dairy Dessert” is difficult at best to read. By comparison, “Quality” which replaced “All Natural” on the container is in large, quite legible fonts and the frozen dairy dessert flavor appears in very large letters.
A section on the Breyers’ web pages prouding touts a section called “Original”. Looking at that in detail, it turns out that they’re not referring to a classic long term original ice cream recipe but rather explains that they’re talking about original flavors.
Interestingly, the term “Ice Cream” for which Breyers was once almost synonymous now almost doesn’t appear on their web site.
One other interesting “rest of the story” to tell you about…
I was discouraged by what I thought was “all natural” ice cream turning out to be chemically added “frozen dairy dessert”. I took a 2″ layer of left over, uneaten frozen dairy dessert and dumped it in my sink under a heavy stream of already hot water that I had been using to do some clean up. To my thinking, the “frozen dairy dessert” behaved quite interestingly. Faced with a heavy stream of 125 degree hot water, it took like 4 minutes for the hot water to make a hole with the diameter of the water thru the 2″ layer of “frozen dairy dessert”. My observation is that I’ve seen that same stream of hot water melt ice far quicker and I’d bet that it would have cut a hole through “all natural” ice cream much quicker (but considering that Breyers “all natural” ice cream isn’t available around Baltimore any longer, this would be difficult to test)
Breyers’ address some of these concerns directly on their web site:
“What is a Frozen Dairy Dessert?
Frozen Dairy Dessert products are made with many of the same high-quality ingredients that are commonly found in Ice Cream – like fresh milk, cream and sugar – and offer a great taste and even smoother texture. According to the FDA, in order for a product to be labeled ice cream, it needs to meet two key requirements:
Not less than 10% dairy fat
A percentage of overrun that results in a finished product weighing more than 4.5 pounds per gallon
Anything that does not meet both of those requirements is not considered ice cream.”
The web site appears to indicate that Breyers still produces a few products that can still be legally labeled as “Ice Cream (FYI – I have been unable to find Breyers Ice Cream at Giant or Mars supermarkets in Baltimore)
“Are there Breyers flavors that are not Frozen Dairy Dessert?
Yes, Breyers offers a wide range of products to meet the different taste, nutritional, and value needs of consumers. Breyers continues to offer many flavors of ice cream, including Natural Vanilla, Natural Strawberry, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip and Coffee.”
4/10/14 Update: Breyers is apparently marketing some flavors – as above – that still be legally labeled as “Ice Cream”; Specifically, I’ve seen containers of Breyer’s “Vanilla” in some supermarkets where the cartons say “Ice Cream” and not “Frozen Dairy Dessert”. The lesson learned is that if you want to buy Breyer’s “Ice Cream”, you’d better pay very close attention to what you’re actually picked up when shopping!
6/6/14 Update: Intriguingly, Breyers is making a big push on a new line of “Gelato” products (And “Gelato” curiously – perhaps quite intentionally ??? – doesn’t fall under the US government regulations for Ice Cream … Plus consumers don’t have any expectation of seeing “Ice Cream” on the packaging or being discombobulated by the product labeling changing from “Ice Cream” to “Frozen Dairy Dessert” Hmmm! Pretty clever, eh?)