Graeter's Mocha Chocolate Chip recently began appearing locally among a throng of other Graeter’s flavors we’ve had available for the past few years. Taking this as a sign their national expansion push is going well, I welcomed the opportunity to try a new flavor.
Graeter’s started out by employing a French pot process - and still do, to some degree. I’m not sure how much of their product is still made this way. About four years ago, they decided to go national with pints with the help of friends and neighbors : Cincinnati-based Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the US. How does a company whose entire production line of 32 2 gallon French Pots supply enough hand packed ice cream for over 4500 stores at $6 a pint with any consistency while guarding against pathogen introduction? They will never tell you they are co-packing their product to scale up, but marketing aside, if you believe that every pint is hand packed, you probably believe elves are busy making the kids’ toys in Santa’s workshop.
After recently enjoying some heavyweight coffee flavors, a mild coffee flavor like this one was akin to sipping coffee with cream after growing accustomed to black. There was nothing remarkable about this pint: a mild coffee ice cream meets Graeter's chips, falls in love, roll credits. The texture is decent because they hold overrun down lower than the batch frozen stuff out there.
While they aren’t the artisan purveyors they once were, my hope is that this brand further displaces the Breyer's, Edy's and other extremely high overrun foam that currently hogs the shelf space in grocers' freezers. Some may balk at paying $6 for a pint when you are able to buy a quart of light ice cream for $3, but there is no something for nothing. "Less expensive" ice cream is a lot of air, cheap ingredients, gums and stabilizers.
Why am I less enthusiastic about Graeter's? They could've held the ground for real, French Pot ice cream and true quality, but they sold out. And that, I can't stand. There aren’t enough artisan brands left. It’s much easier to find companies throwing around the term “artisan” loosely.
Where Elliot Found It: Dierberg’s Markets
Elliot's Grade: B