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.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s That’s My Jam Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's That's My Jam Core Ice Cream

When I go out to the bar there always comes a time when I cross from the buzzed threshold into the shitfaced one. One of the first things I do when this state is achieved is go play a song or two on those digital jukeboxes. I like to loudly proclaim, “That’s my Jam!” and usually follow it up a Ric Flair-esque “Woo!” when the tune starts to play.

I had one of these moments this past weekend when I played Rush in the bar, although it was kind of an awkward moment. Well, awkward 20 minutes. Living in a small Midwest town where the bar folk listen to only country or rap, you get more than a few angry looks when you play “2112” in its entirety, and then, like an idiot, admit out loud it was you who played it.

After eating Ben & Jerry’s That’s My Jam, one of the recent additions in the Core line, I would say That’s My Jam is definitely worthy of being my jam.

The concoction features chocolate ice cream, raspberry ice cream, fudge chips, and a raspberry core that is basically just really thick raspberry jam. So literally, it is YOUR jam once you buy it.

Okay, I’m going to try not to say “jam” for the rest of the review now. I think I already broke some sort of record.

Ben & Jerry's That's My Jam Core Ice Cream Top

I was rather excited to try this because of the raspberry ice cream, a flavor rarity in Ben and Jerry’s. The raspberry flavor is subtle but not too subtle. It’s not going to give your taste buds a Ric Flair chop. More like a high-five. And instead of his normal “woo!” it would be more of the “woo” you do when you see a really awesome (whatever item you most currently desire) in a display window. It has a light and refreshing flavor.

The chocolate ice cream is the same you’d get in any other Ben & Jerry’s, which means it’s fantastic. The raspberry core is undoubtedly the best part. As I said earlier it’s almost like a really thick ja…. oh nuts, I can’t say that word anymore. Need to make up a new word fast. Umm… jimjum? Deal! So the core is almost like a thick raspberry jimjum and it gels perfectly with the ice creams.

Ben & Jerry's That's My Jam Core Ice Cream Spoon

I was worried it would be raspberry overkill since one of the ice creams is raspberry but the core is on a different level of the raspberry flavor spectrum and the flavors are noticeably different.

If you found for some reason you didn’t like the ice creams you could easily take out the core and spread it on toast. That’s how thick it is. And who doesn’t like a good jimjum on their toast?

The one issue I had was that the core looks like it’s nice and big at the top of the pint but in reality it is like an hourglass; Wider at the ends and skinnier in the middle. It was basically quarter-sized on top, shrunk to penny-sized in the middle and then went back to quarter-size towards the bottom.

I have had all the other Core flavors and I really didn’t have this issue with any of them. They all had better core circumference consistency (CCC) than That’s My Jam did.

When the core is the best part of the ice cream, CCC is really important and when the core shrunk for a bit my feelings were hurt a little bit. The size-changing core wasn’t an anomaly either as I actually ate two pints of this just to see if it was like that in all of them.

Despite this, I still found the ice cream to be pretty good, and I’d definitely have it again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s That’s My Jam Core Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.89
Size: One pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Flavors come together in perfect harmony. “2112.” Jimjum.
Cons: Diminishing core causes lost flavor opportunities. Small town jukebox awkwardness.

REVIEW: Häagen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato

There are many great mysteries in the universe. Like has anybody ever really killed two birds with one stone? Who’s the brilliant mind behind the cookie cake? If everything King Midas touches turns to gold, can he… you know… touch himself? Surely I’m not the only one who ponders these questions on a daily basis. Here’s another one of those mysteries: is gelato any good from a container?

Before I moved to Missouri, I lived directly across the street from an Italian café, which served the most foodgasm-inducing gelato I’d ever eaten. There were so many flavor options to choose from, it made every trip an adventure because you never knew what you’d walk out of there with.

Now that the authentic gelato is no longer across the street – and as far as I can tell nowhere to be had here – I knew it was time to do some investigating of my own into the store-bought gelatos. I got in the car and made the ever-joyous weekly trip to Walmart. And that’s not sarcasm. I literally live in the middle of nowhere, and going to Walmart passes for fun around these parts.

While perusing the ice cream aisle, I found Häagen-Dazs had a new line of gelatos, and the flavor debate began to rage in my noggin. Pomegranate swirl? No. Caramelized banana chip? Interesting, but wasn’t in a banana mood. Pistachio? PISTACHIO! Yes, this was the one. Even the Walmart cashier knew it was the one, as before she put it in the bag she took a gander at it and said, “Mmm, now that looks good.” Indeed it does, Walmart cashier. Indeed it does.

Upon arriving home, I put the gelato in the freezer and prepared to set the mood for the occasion. I tucked the corners of my love seat cover in so it looked nice and neat, cleaned the clutter from my coffee table, put some Miles Davis on and got into my jammies. Yes, I call them jammies.

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato Top

After retrieving the gelato from it’s frozen prison, I popped it’s top – tee hee – and gave it a look over. It’s a darker green than pistachio ice creams are, and it had little black specks in it, kind of like a vanilla bean flavor would. I buried the cold steel of my spoon in and took a bite.

HO. LEE. CRAP.

The gelato was light and uber-creamy like authentic gelato, and it tasted like a real pistachio without having actual pistachios inside of it. This is an advantage because as anyone who’s eaten pistachio ice cream knows, you get a rotten pistachio every once in a while and it is one of the vilest tastes you’ll encounter.

The gelato is sweet tasting like pistachio ice cream, but you also get that roasted pistachio taste, something I hadn’t encountered in a frozen pistachio delicacy before. It has a high fat content, but you couldn’t tell unless you looked at the nutrition facts because it’s just so damn light and airy. The only element it was missing was the saltiness a real pistachio has. Curious, I put a little bit of salt on a spoonful.

Ha?agen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato Spoon

It would be impossible for a word or two to describe just how good this bite was, so I will attempt to do so with the following story that may or may not be true. I’ll leave it to you to decide.

After taking the bite, I blacked out. I awoke some time later to a knock on my door. I wondered who it could be as my building has a buzz-in system. My hot neighbor finally giving into my offer of drinking and yelling at my fantasy baseball team with me? I opened the door to reveal a six-foot tall pistachio. I first thought this some odd Trojan horse attempt of my hot neighbor to make it inside my apartment, and I said “if you wanted to come watch fantasy scores with me, you just had to ask.” But this was not my hot neighbor. It was a talking pistachio. And not just any pistachio either. It was the Pistachio King!

He said he was summoned here when I achieved pistachio bliss after putting salt on the gelato. I had uncovered the key to ultimate pistachio power. Basically, I unlocked the Super Saiyan 4 level of pistachio flavor.

The king and I hit it off instantly. It was like we were best friends in a past lifetime. He brought a 24-pack of my favorite beer, Sam Adams Coldsnap, and even laughed at my lame “that’s a Coldsnap, baby” line, a play off of SRV’s “Coldshot.” We put back bottle after bottle and collectively yelled at my fantasy baseball team. Once the games were done for the night, I asked Pistachio King if he wanted to watch me play Kingdom Hearts, and without hesitation he said yes! It’s not even a two-player game, but he didn’t care, he just continued to drink and cheer me on.

At one point Pistachio King asked if I wanted “some of that good shit,” and pulled out a baggie filled with a white crystal-like substance inside. I said “Pistachio King, I don’t do that,” but he said “don’t worry, it’s only salt!” We had a good laugh, and then I put some of the salt on the gelato and took a bite. Everything started spinning, and I again blacked out.

When I awoke, Pistachio King was gone and the gelato container was empty. Probably just a dream. But wait, why are there pistachio shells on the floor? Hmm… Well, at least the gelato from a container mystery was solved.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% calcium, and 4% iron.)

Item: Häagen-Dazs Pistachio Gelato
Purchased Price: $3.89
Size: 14 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: As good as legit Italian gelato. Incredible real pistachio flavor. Adding a bit of salt brings out-of-body experience. Kickin’ it with Pistachio King.
Cons: High fat content. Container’s not a full pint. Hot neighbor still doesn’t want to drink and yell at my fantasy baseball team with me. King Midas mystery remains unsolved.