Ben & Jerry’s is one of the few companies that make a concerted effort to do the right thing. Whether you agree with its specific politics or not, B&J often uses its platform to raise awareness and money for lesser known causes, and in a world consumed by greed, that’s an admirable trait to have. The latest collaborative ice-cream-for-good comes courtesy of director Ava DuVernay and her ARRAY Alliance, dedicated to advancing social justice through art. Lights! Caramel! Action! is vanilla ice cream with salted caramel swirls, graham cracker swirls, and gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough.
As often as B&J advocates for good, they also like to slightly tweak already tried and true recipes and rebrand them with a celebrity endorsement — I’m looking at you, Mint Chocolate Chance — and that tends to yield mixed results. This pint combines some all-time great components into one container that’s no doubt good, but a bit too familiar.
The vanilla base is excellent, like, really, really good. Very smooth and creamy with a dense floral milky taste that’s as good or better than any B&J vanilla I can recall scooping in the last couple of years. Perhaps I haven’t had straight vanilla from the company in a while, but I’m impressed. I always found B&J vanilla to be satisfactory, and this exceeds that — simply delicious.
The chocolate chip cookie dough is also, unsurprisingly, fantastic. “Gobs” is absolutely the right way to describe them because they are big boulders of gritty brown sugar dough with crunchy chocolate that have been a hit since their inception in 1984. Undeniably delicious, but when paired with the vanilla base, it is exactly like a flavor that’s been on grocery store shelves since 1991 — essentially my whole ice cream-eating life.
Where this flavor switches things up is the dual swirls of salted caramel and graham cracker, and they’re both good but not quite as plentiful as I would like. The graham cracker brings a buttery and slightly salted grit to the profile, which interestingly overlaps with the dough a bit in its texture and pint presence. I always want more graham, but the amount here, although not super heavy, is satisfactory given the epic amount of dough and some of their shared characteristics.
The one component I really want more of is the salted caramel swirl. I’ve been lucky in my many years of reviewing ice cream to get some massive pools of caramel, but this is much more like last year’s Chewy Gooey Cookie — relatively thin and lacking any sticky sweet density. The caramel is there, and I enjoy what little I can taste. But being in the name, I wanted more of a caramel-y kick to take this creation to another level. As great as the vanilla base is, I think this could have been even better, more true-to-name, and unique, with a caramel base to give this flavor more caramelized sugary depth and character to go along with the iconic dough, incredible pun, and gritty graham.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from Ben & Jerry’s. Doing so did not influence my review.
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Received from Ben & Jerry’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup, 144g) 390 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 33 grams of total sugars, and 5 grams of protein.