Sunday, May 19, 2013
READER REVIEW: Winston's Review of Ben & Jerry's Everything But The...
Having had Ben and Jerry’s Everything But The around a year ago, the experience proved completely satisfying and unquestionably merited a rescoop and review. When it comes to ice cream, I’m definitely a sucker for mix-ins and variety; in those categories, this flavor certainly excels, as it’s advertised as a collision of chocolate & vanilla ice creams mixed with peanut butter cups, heath bar chunks, white chocolatey chunks, & fudge covered almonds.
The top of the pint displayed a mixture of Ben and Jerry’s classic chocolate and vanilla bases with several solid mix-ins peeking through the surface. My first scoop (pictured), littered with a cornucopia of mix-ins (separated from the base, and proudly displayed below), illustrates the complexity of the entire pint: a massive mash-up of candy and ice creams. Both bases proved absolutely incredible—just as I’d remembered them from many past pints, and immediately satisfied my craving for chocolate. That said, Ben and Jerry’s blends a relatively strong, empowering chocolate that easily overshadows other elements of some of their flavors. In this case, though, the pint seemed to contain a disproportionate amount of vanilla base, which, at times, allowed the vanilla to demonstrate its own unique richness and creaminess, without being overshadowed by its big cacao brother. My previous pint of Everything But The seemed to contain a tad more chocolate, and, therefore, I don’t recall ever tasting any distinct vanilla elements, merely an occasionally dampened chocolate bite.
On the topic of relative irregularity between pints, this recent pint contained a large mash-up of mix-ins that proved distinctly different from my previous pint. Around two out of three bites contained at least one solid mix-in—identical to my experience with my past pint. However, the comparative makeup of the mix-ins proved distinct: this current pint contained a high volume of peanut butter cups, perhaps 5 halves and one full cup; further, it contained around 15 chocolate covered almonds, 6-7 white chocolate chunks, and zero heath bars, only a few flakes of the milk chocolate heath bar exterior. My previous pint had maybe 2 peanut butter cup halves, around the same amount of white chocolate chunks and nuts, and around 3-5 large chunks of heath. The absence of heath bar innards in my current pint is disappointing, and it is actually not my first encounter of a nearly Heath-less pint: my one and only purchase of Vanilla Health Bar Crunch contained virtually no heath innards; it contained mostly flecks of milk chocolate. (Of note: I wrote to Ben and Jerry about my poor experience with Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch, and they were nice enough to offer me a coupon for a free pint and a discount for a second pint. I applied one of those coupons to this pint, though I forget which. I find it ironic that my second attempt to enjoy some Heath bar resulted in another upset.)
The mix-ins, as always, tasted absolutely incredible, and satisfied my candy urge, as I’m sure it would for anyone else. The peanut butter cups proved to be the best of all the mix-ins: brittle yet soften in your mouth, rich with peanut butter filling, and coated with sweet milk chocolate. The chocolate covered almonds and white chocolate chunks demonstrated equal and distinctly satisfying elements; the white chocolate tasted like premium, rich white chocolate, and the almonds released strong nutty and chocolate flavors when chewed. My only (other) complaint about the mix-ins is that they aren’t provided the opportunity to offer a simultaneous flavor contrast to the base. I repeatedly found myself eating and enjoying the bases from each spoonful first, as the ice cream thawed and became liquid rather quickly, while the solid mix-ins took more time to thaw. After swallowing the liquid, melted ice cream, I would then employ my teeth to break down and enjoy each remaining mix-in individually. In other words, I could have just as easily taken a bite of plain ice cream and then popped some candy in my mouth. That said, such an experience wouldn’t be nearly as mysterious and exciting. While I’m confident that Ben and Jerry's won’t change this flavor, it could be improved by adding cookie dough, some kind of swirl, or brownies, as any one of those three would certainly mix well with the base on the palate, and provide a marked flavor and texture contrast that the candy in this pint simply cannot accomplish.
I really want to give this pint and A; being a mix-in lover, it is definitely one of my favorites, and I absolutely did enjoy it. However, when compared to the flavor and texture contrasts that Phish Food (2x swirls that provide strong flavor contrast and solid phish candies) , Chocolate Peppermint Crunch (2x swirls that also provide flavor contrast and solid cookie balls), and Half Baked (the same bases as Everything But The…, but with solids that actually blend into the base and provide flavor and texture contrast) I must admit that Half Baked, Phish Food and Chocolate Peppermint Crunch proved more satisfying, and are both definitely one tier ahead of “everything but the…”. Perhaps if this pint actually contained the full line-up of mix-ins it is advertised to contain, and actually lived up to its label, I would have been overwhelmed by the diversity of mix-ins, and would rank it with an “A”. However, having two very different pints that both didn’t absolutely astound me indicates that such a fortunate occurrence is probably not common.
Where Winston Found It: Super Wal-Mart
Winston's Grade: B
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