Ah, spring — that magical time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of ice cream. And love, I guess, but my wife just gave birth a couple of months ago after a difficult pregnancy, so I’ve been strongly advised to just stick with the ice cream. Fair enough.
As they’re wont to do, Ben & Jerry have put down their bong and unleashed some new flavors on us. This time it’s with a valuable social message, encouraging everyone to volunteer in their communities, complete with a website link on the carton to find volunteering opportunities near you. But not so fast, Walmart shoppers… these are Target exclusive. Each carton even includes a “Together for Volunteerism” sticker with one of B&J’s cows (also known as “a cow”) posing next to the Target dog, which always looks to me like Spuds MacKenzie passed out and his friends drew a bullseye on his face. (If you’re too young to know who Spuds MacKenzie is, I hate you.) Said exclusivity wasn’t any problem for me, but if you live in a Footloose-esque rural community too small or remote to play host to a Tar-jay, you’re out of luck. Please accept my sympathy, as I try to recall which of the three nearby Targets I bought these from.
Speaking of which, apparently by purchasing this ice cream I’m reaping the benefits of Fair Trade Certified cocoa and coffee. I’m not at all politically minded and lack the time to watch The Daily Show anymore, so I’m not sure if that means I’m tacitly supporting equitable trade practices or funding Trump 2012. From what I know of Ben and Jerry, presumably it’s some hippie thing, but as long as I don’t have to give up meat or start wearing Birkenstocks, I’m fine with it. Of course, the other thing Ben and Jerry are known for is inserting puns into their ice cream names, and these are no exception. Volun-Tiramisu is almost a little TOO on the nose, but it works. On the other hand, “Peanut Butter World” confuses me. After some thought, I decided maybe the implication is that volunteerism will lead to a better world, and “butter” sounds kind of like “better,” so… yeah? If that’s the case, I have to say they’re really reaching. Of course, it’s possible all of you got it immediately and can’t imagine how it wasn’t obvious to me from the beginning. Like how I didn’t realize those “Every kiss begins with Kay” commercials are making a pun about the actual letter “k” until I heard it on a radio show’s “things you just figured out” segment. It’s embarrassing to find yourself in the same company as people who only just realized why it’s called a QWERTY keyboard.
I was slightly leery of the Peanut Butter World before digging in because peanut butter and I have an understanding: if it brings its friend chocolate, they’re both welcome in my mouth, but I’ve never been willing to buy seats for PB’s solo act. Turns out I needn’t have worried, as this flavor is composed of really creamy, decadent chocolate with peanut butter swirls in it, along with some chocolate cookie bits. It’s kind of like eating a cold, liquidy Reese’s peanut butter cup that someone has coated with crumbled Oreos, only way more rich than any Reese’s could ever be. It is also insanely unhealthy — after a half dozen spoonfuls, I felt suddenly motivated to name my heirs and divvy up my worldly possessions — but that’s the price you pay for supporting a good cause. At least that’s what I’m telling myself, and you should too. In any event, it’s worth it, because this is some seriously good ice cream. There’s just enough peanut butter to remind you it’s there without being overpowering, while the chocolate is definitely dominant.
If I was nervous about the Peanut Butter World, I had no idea what to expect from the Volun-Tiramisu. Tiramisu is such a unique flavor, and I’ve never been the world’s biggest coffee drinker. But like the peanut butter above, the coffee was noticeable but subdued, enough to make you aware of its presence without taking over. And I wouldn’t have been able to spell “mascarpone” before buying this ice cream, let alone tell you what it tasted like, but it turns out it’s good, very light and lingering in contrast to the heaviness of the Peanut Butter World. The carton also proclaims that it has a cocoa dusting, but I wasn’t able to detect any traces of it. I also don’t think there’s any actual rum in it, although since I was drinking a beer at the same time, I can’t be sure of that. However, while it was definitely good, a little went a long way. I’d had my fill after a few spoonfuls, whereas if it weren’t for self-control and shame, I could have easily polished off a pint of Peanut Butter World in one sitting. That might actually be a plus for Volun-Tiramisu in the sense of aiding your portion control, since while it’s not as bad for you as its partner, it’s not exactly making you thinner with every bite either.
All in all I was pleased with Ben & Jerry’s latest, exclusive offerings. They’re both tasty, I’m pretty sure Target is slightly less evil than some of the other big box stores, and of course I’m all for encouraging volunteerism. In a way, anyone who reads this review and decides to buy a pint is supporting volunteerism because of something I did, so hey — you’re welcome, B&J. I’ll expect the check in the mail.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – Peanut Butter World – 330 calories, 22 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 21 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein. Volun-Tiramisu – 230 calories, 12 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein.)
Item: Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter World and Ben & Jerry’s Volun-Tiramisu
Price: $3.49 each
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Peanut Butter World)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Volun-Tiramisu)
Pros: Saving the world, one fat ass at a time. Mascot synergy. Your peanut butter in my chocolate. Mascarpone. Heavy chocolate, light tiramisu. Ice cream that portion controls itself. Pimping volunteerism.
Cons: Inscrutable puns. Carton makes me feel guilty for not volunteering lately. Failing to comprehend simple ad campaigns. Need to be doing strenuous volunteer work to burn off all the calories. Possibly bankrolling Trump 2012.