While these reviews are always a lot of fun to write, and hopefully slightly enjoyable to read as well, I want to be serious for a second. A few weeks ago, we found out my younger daughter is allergic to peanuts (and tree nuts, and sesame), culminating in a Mother’s Day trip to the emergency room. Fun! She’s perfectly fine — we’re learning what foods to buy and our house contains more adrenaline shots than the sets of Pulp Fiction and Crank combined — but it really caught us off guard. Between this and my older daughter getting a peanut stuck up her nose last year, I’m starting to think my ancestors owed George Washington Carver money or something.
Regardless, I mention this to explain why I was hesitant to pick up this new, peanut-y flavor of Ben & Jerry’s, exclusive to 7-Eleven. I could always keep it in the freezer at work, but it’s hard to write a review when you’re supposed to be… well, working. (Okay, it’s not HARD, but it’s frowned upon.)
Eventually I relented and brought it home, but I’ll say this: it’s a new experience to run out to the garage fridge every time I want to eat some ice cream, then make sure I wash my hands when I come back in. At least it’s summer; can you imagine me huddled out there in December, piteously lifting the spoon with shivering blue hands? Honestly, the lengths I theoretically might have gone to for you people.
Eschewing cutesy names like Karamel Sutra or I Wanna Dip My Malt Balls In It, this time B&J have elected to just tell you what it is: there’s nuts, there’s caramel, it’s swirled together. Transparency can be nice, though it feels a bit like watching a Michael Bay film titled “Stuff Blows Up and Also There’s a Pee Joke, Plus Boobs.” Maybe 7-Eleven stockholders hate puns, or possibly they just figured anyone making an impulse ice cream purchase while picking up a gallon of milk and some smokes wouldn’t properly appreciate clever wordplay.
Your loss, 7-Eleven.
As for the appearance, you’ve seen B&J’s cartons before, obviously. The most noticeable difference is that the little emblem denoting the ingredients to be Fair Trade has changed — before it kind of resembled a stick figure, now it looks like the logo to Sea World. Maybe the peanuts were harvested on the ocean floor or have been secretly replaced with kelp? Beyond that, the description promises nougat ice cream with peanuts, fudge flakes, and a salty caramel swirl. To put it mildly, that’s a lot to be getting on with. Your grandparents couldn’t find that many ingredients in an entire ice cream parlor, and B&J have crammed it all into one flavor. How will that play out?
Rather well, as it turns out, though not without some flaws. The peanuts are instantly recognizable, and extra enjoyable since they’ll pretty much never be allowed in this house again. The nougat ice cream is very rich and sweet; I’m a nougat fan, and this definitely gets the job done. The fudge can likewise easily be detected, and it and the peanuts are present in impressive quantities.
So what didn’t I like? Well, either there isn’t much caramel or the fudge is serving to mask it, because it doesn’t completely disappear but can easily be lost in the shuffle. Likewise, you’re not going to be able to tell whether the swirl is salty or not, although the peanuts fill that niche anyway, so the end result in your mouth is basically the same. I guess if you’re reeeeally reaching, it can be a bit tough to chew at times, though I personally like the textural variety and it’s certainly not going to be breaking your jaw. And as I mentioned earlier, the sheer number of ingredients can make for a slightly schizophrenic taste experience, though certainly not an unpleasant one.
I feel like nearly every Ben & Jerry’s review wraps up nearly the same, but this is another winner for the boys from Vermont. I’m fairly certain I’d enjoy it even if I weren’t on peanut lockdown, but the “forbidden fruit” aspect certainly doesn’t hurt. Even if you’re able to eat peanuts all damn day, though, I’d still recommend you pick a pint up and try it for yourself… that is, if you can afford 7-Eleven’s absurdly high prices without breaking the bank.
(As a postscript, my wife adds that she called Ben & Jerry’s to see whether allergens would be a problem in a factory tour we may take on an upcoming vacation, and found them to be “insanely helpful.” They offered to comp us a pint of allergen-safe ice cream when everyone else gets a sample of the day so that our younger daughter doesn’t feel left out. I must say, that’s super cool of them.)
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 310 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugars, and 6 grams of protein.)
Item: Ben & Jerry’s Nutty Caramel Swirl
Purchased Price: $5.49. Five and a half freaking dollars!
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Illicit peanuts are the best peanuts. Full nougat flavor. You will not get bored eating this ice cream. Father’s Day night officially NOT spent in the ER.
Cons: Not quite enough caramel. Mother’s Day night in the ER. Price suggests every other carton is expected to be shoplifted. Unimaginative name. Bringing something potentially lethal to your child into the garage is not Father of the Year material.
7 thoughts to “REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Nutty Caramel Swirl”
Hate to sound a bit harsh, but the ‘logo to Sea World’ is kind of the internationally known label for fair trade products. I think it’s looked like that since 2002 over here in the UK, and in other places too.
Sorry, now I can go back to reading about delicious ice cream.
I hear you, but at the same time, that doesn’t explain why I walked around with it stamped on my hand for two days on my honeymoon.
stay strong fellow allergen parent! I keep a bag of peanut based products at work and keep my nut based reviews to a work lunch thing, it’s been working well for several years now. good luck!
also, thanks for the link. I think this is a neat product, I just didnt love it like I wanted to.
Thanks for the kind words! When we cleaned out our pantry after learning of the allergy, two bags of chocolate chips and a bag of roasted peanuts somehow made their way to my desk at work. I’m saving the peanuts for a rainy day. 🙂
Great review as usual Drew. Allergens suck and the emotional factor sucks, especially when I want pasta and my wife can’t partake. On the flip side, I will eat a pizza in front of her if I’m angry. All kidding aside, great review!
Thanks, Jeff! Boy, that’s gotta be brutal. Your wife has my sympathies.
The toughest part is going to be the next few years, before she’s old enough to recognize the signs and alert us herself. Not sure how it is with your wife, but apparently just a few minutes is the difference between “dose of Benadryl” and “adrenaline shot and trip to the ER.”
Nice review. Sucks about the allergy, but “I’m starting to think my ancestors owed George Washington Carver money or something” made me laugh quite a bit. Always good to have a sense of humor.
If it makes you feel any better, I spent a large portion of my childhood in the hospital with asthma-related complications and am allergic to pretty much everything BUT food. And I’ve gone on to become a…weird…food reviewing…glutton for punishment okay maybe I’m a bad example.
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