REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream

Sometimes you have one of those days. You drop your toothbrush in the toilet. You eat shell in your scrambled eggs. You get attacked by three nefarious pigeons while walking to the pharmacy and break your sunglasses.

Such was the day I was having when I walked into a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, half-blind from my sunglasses-less eyes. Craving something to promote my tooth decay, Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream seemed like my Golden Ticket.

Sweet cream. Chocolate ice cream. Caramel clusters. Fudge almonds. Marshmallow swirl. Sounds like a mish-mosh put together by especially creative carnies with ingredients that would make the Grinch’s hearts grow to the strength of 10 Grinches (plus 2). How will its tastes settle on a non-Grinch? Only one way to find out…

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream Must find all the clusters!

Gilly (played by Kristen Wiig) is known as the rambunctious rally-rouser in the Saturday Night Live classroom, having created all sorts of semi-violent mischief, including walloping buckets of Chunky Monkey ice cream at the teacher. That same degree of mischief is evidenced here by the multitude of kooky ingredients pummeled into this frozen dairy concoction.

Let’s start with the two bases: the swirl of sweet cream and chocolate ice creams is distinct. The sweet cream portion reminds me of milk that’s been artfully infused with Frosted Flakes while the chocolate tastes light and sugary, much similar to a Hershey’s bar. It’s perhaps not the best chocolate you’ve had in your life, but definitely lovable. When the two mix together, that chocolate flavor takes over while a tinge of hyper sweetness comes at the back end from the sweet cream, making for a very, very light milk chocolate base. It’s dense and creamy, even if perhaps a bit subtle for my inner chocolate fiend.

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream The Cluster Cave

But what I’m really here for are the mix-ins. Just look at that rocky terrain obstructing the creaminess. Clusters! Fudgy almonds! Those fudge almonds add a deeper dimension in the universe of chocolates, touting more of a semisweet profile than the base, while the almonds contribute their thudding crunch more than any notable flavor. And, oh yes, the marshmallow swirl: it’s goopy, in that humble marshmallow fluff way, although its one-note, straight-up-sugar flavor comes across tame against the subtly cocoa-y base, a shame as the marshmallow swirl in Phish Food ranks up there in my personal Ultimate Favorite Ice Cream Experiences of All Time Ever.

But, meanwhile, the clusters. Man, those clusters. Those chunky, sweet caramel little crunches add more than all the heart, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons combined. Chunky. Lightly burnt sugar. A tad sticky. Part of this balanced breakfast. But there aren’t enough of them! Must find all the chunkies! Must eat a whole bowl! Someone must turn these chunkies into a granola. Immediately.

My dad always told me good things come to those who persevere. But sometimes, persevering isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to wait. In a line. For 32 minutes. With a screaming three-year-old. And a tall man’s sweaty armpit in your nose. But the key is to never lose sight of the goal, for the goal will be your reward.

In this case, I was rewarded with some high-quality ice cream and, while it was good, I don’t think I’d go back for Gilly’s. The ingredients were all high quality, yet they mixed together in an altogether subtle way. It almost represents the wackadoodle character of Gilly. It had the kooky ingredients, yet the delivery was muddled. Perhaps more of those amazing clusters, some richer chocolate in the base, maybe a hint of something gritty, like a graham cracker or cookie, and BOOM. It’d be Gilly madness all up in here.

But just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean it can’t be for you. If you like crunchy, caramel things, almonds, and subtle milk chocolate ice cream, this is worth persevering for. It’s really a good ice cream. Don’t be ashamed of your flavor preferences! Find the chunkies! Eat them all! Persevere!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 250 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: 1 scoop
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop (Rockefeller Center)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crunchies! Lovable chocolate base. Thuddy almonds. Slow melting. Fudge coating adds different dimension of chocolate. Creative carnies.
Cons: Needs more clusters. Milk chocolate base may be too subtle for some. Marshmallow gets lost in sweet cream. Dropping your toothbrush in the toilet. Getting attacked by three nefarious pigeons.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Lazy Sunday Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s Lazy Sunday Ice Cream

Lazy Sunday now is in ice cream form
But to eat it, you gotta go to the Ben and Jerry’s store
“What’s that?” you ask. Let me shut down your smile
No Lazy Sunday in the supermarket aisle

Based on the sketch by Samberg and Parnell
Look it up on YouTube—it did super well
There are tons of parodies, and we should confess
That white people joke rap is borderline at BEST

The flavor has chocolate swirl and some cake bits
A cake batter base—okay, just let me taste it
Ben & Jerry’s adding to my building frustration
The nearest Scoop Shop is at the f*$%ing train station

Left. No—right! No—straight! One-way street!
Pedaling the bicycle, can’t wait for those sweets
I know where I’m going, don’t get it twisted
Used Google Maps because the rap song insisted

(instrumental break)

I stroll to the counter, try to act all casual
Like I’m not reviewing food, stay normal and affable
The attendant asks me, “How does two scoops sound?”
I tell her “Three scoops. I’m not fooling around.”

Start to dig in to the creamy frozen treat
It smells like a birthday cake, if you can believe
Chocolate and vanilla flavoring—both pretty typical
Let’s talk about the cake bits and get a little critical

Breaking up the texture would be the dream
But they’re about the same consistency of frozen ice cream
They’re chewy and sticky, tiny bits of brilliance
Too bad when you’re eating cake, you can’t tell the difference

Cake ice cream, cake bits, so much cake, I’m at a party
One-sided, kinda boring, tell the host I’m sorry
I’m tasting too much cake, that’s the reason why
Even at a cake party I pull the Irish goodbye.

Nothing crunchy, nothing salty, nothing avant garde
I will not mourn you at the Flavor Graveyard
Do they really bury pints there? The gravestone quips
Here lies Jimmy Fallon: Fudge-covered potato chips

They stuck cupcakes in this because it’s in the song
I can’t help but think they were doing something wrong
Maybe there are legal things and other confines
But imagine this flavor: Mr. Pibb and Red Vines

The Ben & Jerry’s lady says to me the price
I do a double take, “Say it to me, twice.”
It costs same as a pint? What are you, insane?
You know who I’m not? Marta Kauffman nor David Crane

I liked this okay, I guess what I mean is
Like McAdams likes Gosling, in two thousand fourteens’
Yeah, sure, okay, Us Weekly confirms
They both feel indifferent—left on decent terms

Get back on my bike, flash a little grin
Still had ice cream so I consider that a win
Wrote up this track here, a tribute to the original
I’m eating Americone Dream, my life’s so nutritional

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup — 230 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 60 grams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.).)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Lazy Sunday Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $5.50
Size: Large (3 scoops)
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It’s ice cream. Cake balls are very cake-y. Cake flavoring is strong, good.
Cons: It’s not really balanced taste-wise. The cake balls are the same texture as the ice cream so they get lost easily.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt

All right, someone at Ben & Jerry’s has got to be screwing with me.

I’m generally down to eat any ice cream. Sure, I’ve got preferences, but if it’s cold and fatty, it’s in my basket. The only thing I might love even more is stuff that’s bad for me that’s also pretending to be healthy. Kashi Granola bars? Sold. Kale chips? Lay ‘em on me. And when Ben & Jerry’s released their Frozen Greek Yogurt line a few years ago? I was all about it.

From there, it was all downhill. First, I stopped being able to find Blueberry Vanilla Graham, my overall favorite, in any of my grocery stores. Then, they had the audacity to insult my hero, Liz Lemon, with a flavor that included LAVENDER. Like, had they ever watched an episode of 30 Rock? Lemon would never consume lavender unless it was in potpourri that she thought was chips.

After years of escalating disappointment, they proceeded to irk me more with their blatant ingredient recycling in their recent core line. So what do they do next? They release a Frozen Greek Yogurt Cherry Garcia. In other words, THEY RELEASE A FROZEN GREEK YOGURT PRODUCT THAT ALREADY FUCKING EXISTS IN A BILLION FORMS?

Maybe I’m just bitter. Sorry. I don’t really have anything against Cherry Garcia, but was it really necessary to release a frozen Greek yogurt version of something I can buy as an ice cream? Or an ice cream bar? Or a NON-GREEK frozen yogurt? I think not, but I’ll try not to let my bitterness influence my review too much.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt Nutrition

I did feel it was necessary to compare the Greek Cherry Garcia to the regular fro-yo that’s been on shelves. Maybe then I could spot some noticeable differences between the products that would justify this release. I figured there would be some substantial caloric differences between the products, right? Nope. Okay, well then the Greek Cherry Garcia would have to have to be high protein so that would make sense… oh I’m sorry? The Greek product has less protein? I’m done trying.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt Comparison

In a taste comparison, although I hate to admit it, I did prefer the Greek Cherry Garcia version. A lot of this may have been pint bias, as my Greek pint was far more generous with the cherry and fudge chunks than the original fro-yo. While I would usually be guilty of picking out all the chocolate mix-ins and leaving the rest, I found myself really enjoying the cherry pieces and hunting for those instead. Mix-in wise, there is zero that differentiates this from any other Cherry Garcia you’ve had before.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought the slight tanginess of the Greek base melded really well with the natural tartness of the cherry flavor. This base also softened up faster to a creamier and lighter consistency with a more pleasant mouthfeel. Or I subconsciously fabricated that thought just so I could use the word “mouthfeel” and sound like a real reviewer.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt Top

Once again, my issue with Ben and Jerry’s comes down not to product quality, but product choice. This was a good dessert, but I can’t say that the slight difference in the Greek Cherry Garcia required an entirely new product. Could they not have reformulated the original fro-yo to the Greek version and given us a new fro-yo? Or done SOMETHING besides release a fourth iteration of a flavor?

In the words of product muse Jerry Garcia, “constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” These unimaginative releases, albeit tasty, are still an evil. I beg you, Ben & Jerry’s, please start choosing good.

(Editor’s Note: In case you’re wondering why the regular frozen yogurt version has more than the Greek version, the Consumerist decided to find out after reading this review.)

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Cherry Garcia Greek Frozen Yogurt
Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tangy Greek Yogurt and tart cherries work well together. Still a good quality product. Hitting the mix-in jackpot in your pint. Fake health halos. Jerry Garcia quotes. Mouthfeels. Mouthfeels. Mouthfeels. Sorry, I just really like that word.
Cons: Less protein than non-Greek yogurt? This already exists in a billion other forms. Thinking that someone at B&Js gets sick sadistic pleasure out of breaking my ice cream loving heart with these endless rehashings. Choosing evil.

QUICK REVIEW: Haagen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato

Ha?agen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful banana-flavored gelato that doesn’t taste doesn’t taste at all artificial, Lots of semi-sweet chocolatey shavings throughout the container, which give the frozen dessert a texture contrast. Not overly sweet. Easy to scoop out, somewhat hard to put down (although reading the nutrition facts over and over helped me put it down). Monkeys would approve.
Cons: Can’t taste the caramelization in the caramelized banana gelato; it tastes like plain banana ice cream. Not a full pint. Texture not like gelato one would get from a gelato shop, even after letting it soften a little. Has a very faint banana aroma. Not as great as Häagen-Dazs Bananas Foster Ice Cream, which has a flavor that’s more complex than this gelato.

Ha?agen-Dazs Caramelized Banana Chip Gelato Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Turkey Hill Seasonal Favorite Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Ice Cream

Turkey Hill Seasonal Favorite Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Ice Cream

Let’s talk regional delicacies, shall we? Like Black and White cookies from New York City, frozen custard from the Midwest, and San Francisco’s It’s-It ice cream sandwich, there’s an air of mystery and exotic appeal to sweet potato pecan pie for all of us not living in the Southeast.

Sweet potatoes, in pie? Oh my, how wonderfully rustic and old-fashioned. And pecans! Why, if there was ever a pie worthy enough to make into an ice cream flavor (after this one, this one, and obviously this one) it would be sweet potato pecan pie!

Okay, so the pie thing in ice cream has perhaps lost some of its avant-garde appeal, but while pumpkin pie has gotten the full treatment from most commercial ice cream makers, this is the first mass-produced take on a sweet potato flavor to my knowledge. Vegetables in ice cream usually go together like pizza and Twinkies, but add enough cream and brown sugar to anything—not to mention pecans—and you’ve got something thoroughly in the realm of dessert.

I’m not quite sure what to expect as I open the container. Will it be an unnatural Garfield the Cat orange? Will there be skins from the sweet potatoes? Will the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” spontaneously start playing, serenading me to the virtues of other southern staples like sweet tea and homemade wine?

Here are the answers to those questions; no, no, and yes, although in the case of the last one, that’s because I had Pandora on in the background to set the mood. And yes, I set the mood before eating ice cream.

Turkey Hill Seasonal Favorite Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Ice Cream Closeup

The color is a slightly darker version of vanilla, with a pleasant and not overpowering aroma of all the usual fall spices. I try to forget it’s May for a moment and dig in, immediately discovering that a viscous and plentiful pecan swirl runs its way throughout the base. However, there don’t appear to be any pecans. This shatters my only previous conceptions of sweet potato pecan pie, as gleaned from one to many hours gawking at Pinterest.

Obviously, the romantic in me covets plump and crunchy nuts in my ice cream. The actual person in me, though, laughs hysterically at “plump and crunchy nuts.” That person also recently ate pistachio ice cream with plump and crunchy nuts, and remembers it being totally “meh.” Truth be told, whole nuts in ice cream tend to have a raw and somewhat bitter flavor, and I’m thankful for being saved the overly gritty texture which can often ruin an ice cream’s base. By adding the pecans and an invert sugar swirl, this problem is avoided completely, creating a smooth and sweet textural component to compliment the base’s natural creamery fresh taste.

The flavor itself is brown sugar-cinnamon-caramel-sweet cream-pecan, then kinda pumpkiny, and exactly in that order. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking around New Orleans while sober with the sole intention of trying every free sample of pralines imaginable (what, doesn’t everyone?) you’ll recognize it tastes exactly like one of the sweet potato pralines offered by any of the numerous vendors. Take my word for it; this is an enjoyable taste, and one which you will come back for repeatedly.

Turkey Hill Seasonal Favorite Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Ice Cream Cone

Clearly, I’m impressed. The flavor is more nuanced than Turkey Hill’s graham cracker-infused pumpkin pie flavor, and it’s got a deeper, richer praline effect than your standard cinnamon ice creams. My one complaint is that the sweet potato flavor could use more development. I say this with some trepidation (do I really want to taste the vegetableness of a sweet potato in ice cream?) but knowing how well the brown sugar and cinnamon sweetness works, a little extra sweet potato flavor could go a long way.

Turkey Hill’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie is a great addition to what’s become a solid lineup of limited edition seasonal flavors, although calling it “seasonal” for May is more of a stretch than marketing the ice cream as a way to sneak vegetables into your diet would be. While the sweet potato flavor is restrained, the brown sugar and praline effect comes through in full force amidst the creamy base, and makes for a new and creative take on a southern specialty.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 6% calcium.)

Item: Turkey Hill Seasonal Favorite Sweet Potato Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $2.50 (on sale)
Size: 1.5 quarts
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Excellent brown sugar-cinnamon and sweet cream flavor. Notes of caramel. Smooth pecan swirl provides pecan flavor without raw nut grit. Doesn’t taste like a vegetable flavored ice cream.
Cons: Could use a more pronounced sweet potato flavor. Base isn’t super premium or rich. Does not have the health benefits of an actual vegetable.