Back before the Starbucks brand had aspirations for world-wide domination, they used to produce one of the most delicious ice creams I've ever had. Letting Dreyer's handle all the dirty work, they produced some handiwork from the heavens called Mud Pie. Soon after becoming obsessed with this creation of chocolate sandwich cookies & fudge swirls in creamy coffee ice cream, Starbucks untied the knot with Dreyer's and began to allow Unilever to begin producing their frozen products. In the process, they decided to dump my beloved Mud Pie and I've been boycotting their ice cream ever since. Even limited edition and seasonal offerings haven't been enough to make me want to bury the hatchet.
I hadn't tried the new formula that Unilever had employed since they made the switch back in 2009, but I decided to start with one of their more straightforward flavors. The Java Chip Frappuccino has had widespread success in Starbucks locations worldwide, and nearly everyone has had a least of sip of somebody's, so I grabbed a pint for myself. Not terribly complicated, this was described as, "Coffee ice cream with dark chocolatey chunks."
After dislodging the lid, the first layer looks luscious and littered with large chunks of dark chocolate. The mocha scent meanders up and out of the beige-colored base. Being well versed in the world of coffee ice creams, I grabbed a large gob on my spoon to see how it could hold up to the competition. The gourmet beans and proven methods utilized by Starbucks are evident from the start. This doesn't taste like a gas station cup of joe, but instead gives you all the taste of that authentic five dollar beverage that would be made by a real Starbucks barista. With the accompaniment of an above average mix-in we could really have a winner.
But here's where the formula begins to fall off. Starting with their scrumptious coffee ice cream, a nice chocolate mix-in with a drizzle of chocolate and whipped cream swirling about would have been the appropriate approach to this flavor. Instead, Starbucks and Unilever settle on a slew of dark chocolate chunks and leave it at that. The dark chocolate plays nicely with the coffee, but I really dislike hard fragments of fudge in ice cream. The lack adding any real texture and these are just large enough to hinder the whole experience. You can't chew them without cracking a tooth and they don't deliver that high quality, dark chocolate aftertaste I was anticipating after allowing them to melt down.
As I continued my way through a few more bites, I couldn't help but hate how corporate America had taken advantage of the average consumer. They were selling thousands of these pints purely off the fact they were utilizing the Starbucks logo. I'm sure McDonald's could start unleashing a line of McFlurry inspired ice creams that would fly out of grocer's freezers simply by using the golden arches logo, but that doesn't mean they'd worthy of a thumbs up. Perhaps I'm still bitter they gave the boot to Mud Pie, but I just can't give this one the go ahead.
Where I Found It: Ingles Markets