“I think it tastes like a garlic bagel with cream cheese,” whispered the conspiratorial cashier as I purchased my pint of Van Leeuwen’s new limited edition Glass Onion ice cream. Fittingly for a mystery film tie-in, this ice cream is a mystery flavor, but the genre that was more on my mind was horror. Rest assured, though, that this flavor’s name is not a red herring — it assaults you with an overwhelming odor of onion as soon as you peel open the pint.
Pushing onwards to investigate the scene of what some might call a food crime, I noted the ice cream base seemed to be vanilla, streaked with a viscous dark brown swirl. Before my first spoonful even made it to my mouth, I was impressed by its soft-but-not-airy, velvety-but-not-heavy texture that hinted at high quality.
If I had to sum the taste up in one word (other than “HUH?”), it would be “complex.” The foremost flavor was undeniably — and unsurprisingly — the prominent and dominant onion, which seemed to originate from the gooey, gluey swirl and was potent with a faintly acrid aftertaste that was welcome amidst the decadent vanilla’s silky sweetness. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the rest of the swirl’s unusual (or onionusual) taste, but it seemed to have notes of both sweet and savory, which made me guess that it involved sea salt caramel. I was genuinely shocked and delighted when, after I’d finally gotten acclimated to this strange but also strangely addictive flavor, a scoop of what had been heretofore smooth suddenly also included a brittle chunk of… something.
I’m betting that this mysterious mix-in was intentionally hidden deeper in the pint to add an element of surprise. I detected some sugariness and crispiness that made me think of honeycomb, and also made me eager to find another of these pieces. But as my ice cream rapidly melted, I encountered no more of the cryptic crispies, only a series of increasingly oversaturated patches of swirl that tasted like straight-up onion powder, but with odd, extremely intense notes of tartness and acidity that reminded me of balsamic vinegar. Once the vanilla ice cream had become too soupy to be an adequate counterbalance, the omnipresent onion just became overpoweringly gross. On that low note, I headed to Google so I could more thoroughly curse the culprit behind this fetid frenzy of flavors.
It turns out that this is vanilla ice cream with Greek yogurt, bourbon caramelized onion jam, and – yes!!!! – crystallized honeycomb candy (I guess I just got an extremely sparse batch). Like any satisfying mystery, the clues are all clear in hindsight: I can see now how the Greek yogurt was what provided that inexplicable tartness, while the swirl’s ambiguous flavor profile and consistency do, in retrospect, seem quite jammy, and hey, I at least get some partial credit for picking up on an element of caramel, right?
I’d like to end this review by quoting another beloved piece of cinema: Shrek, where the metaphor “Onions have layers” is used to remind us that even weird things are always more nuanced than they appear. Much like onions (and ogres), Glass Onion ice cream certainly does have layers, but I can understand why some might not want to experience them. Now that I’ve cracked the case, I can’t see any reason to ever revisit this product myself. Hopefully the movie fares better!
Purchased Price: $10.50
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Van Leeuwen
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 250 calories, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar (including 18 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.