Thursday, September 1, 2016

READER REVIEW: Steve's Review of Oak Farms Moose Tracks

The Blue Bell brand was the dominant ice cream in Louisiana, so when the listeria crisis knocked it from the shelves last year, it literally left a gaping hole in the ice cream offerings of Louisiana grocers. During that time, some stores filled that gap with Oak Farms ice cream, a brand that also hails from Texas. And even after Blue Bell's return, Oak Farms tubs have lingered on some shelves. So after months of hesitation, I decided to splurge on a tub of their "Moose Tracks" variety. That's because to me, Moose Tracks is like fried chicken, it's hard to mess it up! How do you not combine vanilla ice cream, fudge ribbons, and peanut butter cups in a way that doesn't taste good? So how does the Oak Farms version stack up?

Cracking open the lid, things look promising. The vanilla base has a nice shad to it, and you also see a nice thick band of fudge. No peanut butter cups poking through, but plunge in the spoon and you find those too. So far, pretty good. Alas, when you start to eat the ice cream, the tastebuds-reality doesn't quite live up to the visuals. The main culprit here is the vanilla base. This base looks and tastes more like a kind of ice-milk or non-dairy product than actual ice cream. It is fluffy, and lacks any real depth of creaminess. It just kind of melts on the palate like ice milk does. In contrast, the fudge ribbon tastes adequate enough, and the peanut butter cups I actually compare favorably to Blue Bell's "Happy Tracks" version. They aren't frozen, and they are large enough that you get a real peanut butter center that you can taste in your mouth. But even here, there is a problem, namely that the fudge ribbon and peanut butter cups are just not very much in evidence. In fact, after breaking through the first two or so inches of the tub, you then encounter a dystopian "core" of almost pure vanilla that permeates much of the midsection of the container. Not good!

Oak Farms Moose Tracks isn't a total loss. For one thing, like Blue Bell, it does come in a real half-gallon tub, not some skimpier scaled-down metric size container. And for only $4, there is value here. Plus, despite my criticisms, when base, fudge, and cups do meet in the mouth, there is a kind of positive taste synergy that develops. Problem is, because of the paucity of cups, you don't get those bites all that often. This ice cream begs for dressing up with various syrups and sauces, it doesn't quite make it on its own.

Oak Farms is highly regional, the web site says it is distributed in the eastern half of Texas (which does include Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio), the far southern part of Oklahoma, and the far western part of Louisiana. By their map, Baton Rouge isn't supposed to have any, but I found it there anyway.

Where Steve Found It: Albertson's (Baton Rouge, LA)
Steve's Grade: C

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