Monday, April 15, 2013

READER REVIEW: Winston's Review of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked FroYo

Having thoroughly enjoyed Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream variant of their popular Half Baked ice cream, I thought I’d see how their guilt-reduced Froyo variant stacked up against its belt-busting big brother.

Upon picking the pint up and giving it a good squeeze, the actual contents of the paper cup seemed to weigh less and feel softer than most Ben & Jerry’s ice creams. It surprised me a bit, as I’m accustomed to Ben and Jerry’s pints being slightly more substantial. After lifting the lid, the Froyo displayed a couple small brownie morsels imbedded in a bed of primarily chocolate base; eye candy at its best.

Upon first bite, the first thought that registered in my mind was that this resembled soft serve. At first, I reasoned with myself thinking, “this is okay, I actually love soft serve.” Then came the second bite. Yes, it certainly tasted like soft serve frozen yogurt, but this base significantly lacked richness, body and flavor. On a positive note, the base contained no sour taste like traditional yogurt; however, it tasted closer to an airy, bland, sweetened ice milk than a traditional chocolate frozen yogurt. The chocolate base absolutely did not deliver the chocolate richness normally expected from Ben and Jerry’s.

The vanilla base, on the other hand--well actually, on the same hand, is equally unremarkable. No distinct flavor; simply a bland ice milk flavor that fails to impress. Vegan soft-serve in my Alma Mater dining hall proved more satisfying. These disappointing bases in a Ben & Jerry’s container perplexed me; it didn’t make sense. At first I thought that perhaps I’ve been spoiled with heavy cream bases, or perhaps I’ve grown accustomed to associating the Ben & Jerry’s carton with extremely rich, fattening, and super-premium ice cream. However, comparing this pints’ base to that of TCBY’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough is a no brainer; TCBY is as described: The Country’s Best Yogurt. TCBY’s vanilla base actually delivers vanilla bean notes, and is far creamier (3g fat vs. 6g fat). In my opinion, Ben & Jerry’s created this blend during the low-fat trend that plagued the 90’s and 2000’s and is probably well overdue for a revision.

As for the mix-ins, well, unfortunately, they also disappoint. Remember the gooey, chewy, moist cookie dough in Ben & Jerry’s traditional Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Half Baked? That stuff is absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, you won’t find it in this pint. Instead you’ll find its dry, brittle and unsatisfying cousin. Remember how you can feel and taste the sugar kernels in the cookie dough of traditional Half Baked and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough? In this pint, you’ll honestly have a better chance at tasting and feeling the flour kernels. The brownie mix-ins are equally as underwhelming. Instead of being at the brittle and course extreme found in the cookie dough, the brownies sit at the other extreme: they lack any real texture, and simply melt into each spoonful, offering virtually zero texture contrast. The brownies are closer to a faux chocolate, darkened liquid sugar swirl than the Greyston Bakery brownies found in Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Half Baked.

The bottom line: this flavor is pretty bad. It’s pretty evident that the gurus at Ben & Jerry’s paid far closer attention to producing an appealing nutrition label circa 1995 than creating a decent desert. If you want Half Baked, stick to the real thing. If you are conscious about calories, stick to the real thing and eat less (or try some TCBY).

Where Winston Found It: Super Wal-Mart
Winston's Grade: D

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