The last time The Impulsive Buy reviewed a Häagen-Dazs product, fellow writer Jasper came up with a groundbreaking, but ridiculously simple hypothesis for why one of the company’s premium ice cream varieties has never received below a “7″ score on a TIB review.
Let’s take a look back, shall we?
Häagen-Dazs routinely comes out with interesting and well-executed new products but, look, when your product’s primary ingredients are sugar and cream, you’re set up for success
I couldn’t agree more. Taking a look at your standard Häagen-Dazs container, you almost always see cream as the first ingredient listed, followed by skim milk and then sugar. To make things even richer, Häagen-Dazs also adds egg yolks to many flavors. But what happens when they pull the old switcheroo on the first two ingredients, adding more skim milk than cream, and then adding a little corn syrup to act as the main sweetener instead of sugar? While were at it, let’s just take out those yolks as well. What kind of machination of frozen dessert wizardry does that leave poor schmucks like me with?
Apparently something vaguely Italian. Don’t get me wrong. Häagen-Dazs’ new line of Gelato keeps with the gut-busting ethos of premium frozen dairy products that pack more than 200 calories per 1/2 cup serving, but seriously, by inverting the first two ingredients of their standard ice cream the company is taking the ice cream equivalent to a fall from the Majors to Single A. That’s a big gamble for something that promises a “taste of Italy” and comes in similar, if not identical, flavors as your standard ice cream. God knows I love a good pizza and could totally use some one-on-one kitchen pointers from Giada, but I was skeptical that this new line of frozen desserts could live up to its gourmet billing.
The new line of Gelato comes in seven flavors, but because my local Walmart isn’t exactly a café in the streets of Florence, only Vanilla Bean and Cappuccino were in stock. I chose the later, mostly because my stops into Walmart tend to occur before the sun rises, and I felt like getting a proper caffeine kick to compliment my breakfast of a Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit.
When judging frozen dairy, I like to borrow a page from Jasper’s playbook and apply the Pint Test. You may recall the Pint Test judges an ice cream/gelato’s quality on whether or not you would sacrifice your better health sense to finish the pint (or 14 oz. container) all in one sitting.
But I propose a corollary to the Pint Test. Any bastard with the willpower of a child in Toys “R” Us (like myself) can finish a pint on a hot summer day without thinking about it. The true test is whether or not someone like Jillian Michaels would finish a pint during a 14 degree morning after topping off a gargantuan church/fire department/community club sponsored breakfast of all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage.
For that to happen, you know it’s good.
Unfortunately Jillian didn’t respond to my request for assistance in this review, but thanks to an 18 degree morning, I was able to capture an ethos that doesn’t exactly benefit gelato eating*.
I was expecting the kind of intense roasted espresso flavor one gets when shoving a handful of those chocolate covered espresso beans into one’s face, but I was instead greeted by a mellow coffee flavor and a milky-sweet taste. There’s a real freshness with each spoonful, thanks to the milk, but nothing else helped make it stand out beyond your standard coffee ice cream. If anything, the cappuccino “swirl” gives you inconsistent mouthfuls. Sometimes you’re getting a jolt of flavor, other times a whimper.
The gelato was certainly smooth, but at the same time it lacked the frothy texture and almost whipped mouth feel that makes a cappuccino more than just espresso beans and milk. If anything, it reminded me of a condensed form of reduced fat ice cream, with the flavors dissipating rather than lingering (as an exceptionally rich ice cream would). The gelato melts quickly, and instead of holding its shape when scooped out, it sags back into a puddled indentation of sweetened cream, corn syrup, and yes, skim milk. My God, I just got a sickly but remarkably accurate image. This gelato develops old lady boobs.
Jillian Michaels may not have been on hand to test my corollary to the Pint Test, but suffice to say, her iron will wouldn’t have crumbled beneath a few tasting spoonfuls. Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing particularly Italian about Häagen-Dazs’ venture into gelato, and nothing over-the-top or memorable about each spoonful.
It’s good, but so is every coffee ice cream I’ve ever had, many of which have not developed old lady boobs. I hate to be the guy who finally has to break the company’s impeccable record of product reviews here, but this is one Häagen-Dazs product which you won’t actually feel compelled to eat in one sitting.
*Despite outside photography, I didn’t actually eat said Gelato outside. That would have just been cold as balls.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 230 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat,62 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 10% calcium)
Item: Häagen-Dazs Cappuccino Gelato
Purchased Price: $3.86
Size: 14 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Clean and sweet coffee flavor. Smooth and creamy base with zero grit. Not finishing off an entire container and living with a day’s worth of self-disgust as you contemplate whether or not buying another pint is in order.
Cons: Not really a pint. Nothing exceptional or robust about the coffee flavor. Price per spoonful sucks. Cappuccino identity crisis. Melts too fast. Sags in your spoon like old lady boobs.