Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blue Bell peanut butter & jelly*

Despite its lame claims of being The Best ... despite the proliferating number of clueless states it's currently impressing (FL, TN, all the states in the SOUTH who have no history w/ ice cream) ... Blue Bell’s ice cream sucks. (While we're at it, the company itself is kinda weird & ferrety but: onward and upward.) They never quite get it right: milquetoast flavor profile and boring flavor selection (uh, milk chocolate?) w/ ultra-cheap ingredients for which they nonetheless charge $5.49. Anyway, they just released a new flavor, peanut butter and jelly. It's vanilla ice cream (see, how stupid is that, to have the base be vanilla) w/ peanuts and swirls of pb & grape jelly.

*this news brought to NYCE by the plano guy

34 Comments:

At July 14, 2005 9:06 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

That's why I prefer B&J and Dreamery for my premium ice cream fixes.

 
At July 14, 2005 9:26 AM, Blogger TG said...

wow the captain is quick on the draw. he's also ABSOLUTELY CORRECT in his discriminating ice cream preferences. (i'm a big dreamery fan myself.) what is your fave flavor?

 
At July 14, 2005 9:40 AM, Blogger Scott--DFW said...

Unfortunately, a lot of supermarkets around here seem to be phasing out Dreamery. I guess marketing trumps product quality.

Scott

 
At July 14, 2005 9:48 AM, Blogger TG said...

big sigh ... i was wondering if that was the case. i was hoping it just hadn't been properly stocked. this part of the country is so fucked. i guess if you've grown up with blue bell, you don't know what "good" is when you taste it?

 
At July 14, 2005 12:01 PM, Blogger Scott--DFW said...

TG,

From what I've seen, Dreamery isn't ceding shelf space to Blue Bell or other midrange ice creams. It's losing ground against its rivals in the "gourmet pint" category: B&J, Haagen-Dazs, and (increasingly) house brands from the supermarket chains. The Godiva label (which is actually Dreamery ice cream) hasn't suffered as much, which makes me think it's just a failure in Dreamery's marketing.

Even Dreamery isn't what it used to be, though. A couple of years ago, I noticed a slight change in the packaging and an increase in overrun in their "chocolate peanut butter chunk." I had pints on hand from both before and after the change; and the density difference was quite noticeable. I wrote a concerned letter to the company, telling them that the low overrun was one of the things I liked about their product. They responded with a coupon for a free pint.

About that time--before or after, I'm not sure which--Dreyer's sold off the Dreamery and Godiva brands to CoolBrands International (which I think is a Canadian company). The increased overrun could have been (a) a Dreyer's stunt to boost profitability before the sale, (b) a Dreyer's effort to make more money off the line so they wouldn't need to sell it, (c) a CoolBrands change intended to cut costs, (d)...who knows? I just know that Dreamery, while still pretty good, now has more overrun, which leads me to suspect a decrease in milk fat content also.

BTW, Tom Thumb has Blue Bell priced at 2 for $7 today, for those who want to try "peanut butter and jelly" ice cream.

Scott

 
At July 14, 2005 12:07 PM, Blogger Twisted Dog said...

JESUS H. CHRIST. GET A LIFE!

 
At July 14, 2005 12:15 PM, Anonymous M.B. said...

What should we be doing instead of this, "Twisted Dog"? Barking at the mailman? Chasing squirrels? It's not exactly as if you have some great life.

 
At July 14, 2005 12:32 PM, Blogger Twisted Dog said...

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I HAVE ABSOLUTELY THE BEST LIFE. EVERYBODY I KNOW FEEDS ME. PEOPLE ACTUALLY STOP ON THE STREET TO PET ME. I NAP WHENEVER I WANT. I CAN SIT IN THE SUN ALL DAY IF I CHOOSE. IT GOES ON AND ON ... HOW'S YOUR PATHETIC LIFE?

 
At July 14, 2005 1:14 PM, Blogger TG said...

scott you are one crazy mofo, and i applaud your insanity. (i just LOVE "I had pints on hand from both before and after the change; and the density difference was quite noticeable".) i am pretty sure dreyers HAD to sell dreamery when it merged w/ nestle so your theory that it "went downhill" probably occurred after coolbrands took over, maybe?

as mediocre as i find bluebell, i'm also not enchanted w/ the super-premiums... too "slick". can't say i'd been as observant as you about the changes in dreamery's formula; for me, their charm lies in their smartly-conceived flavors.

meanwhile R U nutty for choc-PB or what? (that was the flavor you mentioned in your Old Town/ice cream treatise on your blog, yes?) so R U intrigued by this blue bell flavor?

 
At July 14, 2005 1:40 PM, Blogger TG said...

hey i found a pertinent link. (not to mention another opportunity to use my newfound linking skills)

 
At July 14, 2005 2:14 PM, Anonymous ms.ery said...

I've never tried Dreamery, but I'll look for it when I go to the store later today. I'm not into too many ice cream flavors; think Ben and Jerry's are over complicated. Mostly, I am just stuck on Haagen Dazs rum raisin.

 
At July 14, 2005 2:19 PM, Anonymous catahoula 86 said...

Twisted Cur: Does your person ever buy you that special ice cream for dogs? Frosty Paws, I think it's called, and it comes in sweet serving cups. It's pretty good, and it's better diet-wise than the people stuff. I'm going to remind my person to pick up a four-pack for me.

 
At July 14, 2005 2:20 PM, Anonymous clairevoyant said...

ms.ery, my sister and i used to have lengthy discussions regarding what constitutes great ice cream, my thought being that if it didn't have chocolate of some sort, well why bother? she was always a rum raisin (or in New England, frozen pudding) fan. i could never understand!

 
At July 14, 2005 2:49 PM, Blogger Twisted Dog said...

YEAH? DOES IT COME IN RIB-EYE FLAVOR?

 
At July 14, 2005 3:09 PM, Anonymous soofsayer said...

as clairevoyant's perpetually maligned sister, i'd like to testify that her childhood recollections are a tad hazy (one too many tequila sunrises, methinks). "rum raisin" is a fine ice cream. but it's no frozen pudding, whose appeal lies in the MIXED CANDIED FRUIT (juxtaposed against the creamy backdrop). tis the fruity aspect that makes it so good. (which explains why BLACK RASPBERRY AVALANCHE is my fave dreamery flavor: fruity.)

i wonder ... do all ice cream fans fall into those two opposing camps? choc vs not-choc?

 
At July 14, 2005 3:22 PM, Anonymous clairevoyant said...

soof:
raisins, candied fruit, blah blah. it's not CHOCOLATE, so who cares!

 
At July 14, 2005 6:00 PM, Blogger Twisted Link said...

I went looking for black raspberries today and couldn't find any. I guess I'll have to actually buy them.

 
At July 14, 2005 6:56 PM, Blogger emmmjay said...

I don't want to offend the ice cream experts but I found a chocolate bar called NO PUDGE in Maine and was pleased to find it in Florida also (in Walmart, but what the heck). It is creamy, low calorie, and fat-free. Don't know if it is new or just new to me.

 
At July 14, 2005 8:17 PM, Anonymous ms.ery said...

I like chocolate, and I sometimes buy H-D chocolate ice cream. But I don't want chocolate in my strawberry, pineapple, pecan, whatever ice cream. Probably mentioned this before, but Carvel's in NY used to have a maple walnut that pushed my buttons. Am hoping that when a Dallas Carvel's actually opens it will have it as well as the soft-serve stuff the kid's love. Am going to give that black raspberry avalanche that soofsayer recommends a try. she must be an ice cream expert if her mouth is so frozen she can't even say sooth.

 
At July 14, 2005 8:19 PM, Anonymous red ennk said...

clairvoyant: one word to help your understanding: rum

 
At July 14, 2005 8:31 PM, Anonymous jess truhart said...

my grandmother used to just partially defrost a package of frozen raspberries then spoon them over vanilla ice cream. yum! also good on plain vanilla ice cream are sugared fresh berries, chilled crushed pineapple, root beer and other colas (natch), and cooled, very strong coffee, as well as all sorts of liquours and other alcoholic liquids. why do we need the ice cream companies to add mix-ins?

 
At July 14, 2005 8:53 PM, Blogger Twisted Dog said...

i LIKE A BIT OF FISH GUTS IN MY ICE CREAM.

 
At July 14, 2005 8:56 PM, Anonymous d.b. cooper said...

an old trick my german/indian grandpa taught me: to improve the flavor of ice cream: sprinkle it lightly with salt. works just like --but sort of in reverse -- that adding a pinch of sugar improves tomato or potato dishes.

 
At July 14, 2005 9:01 PM, Anonymous catahoula 86 said...

twisted dog: you could probably detect a bit of fish flavor in Frosty Paws' cat-o-rama ice cream. myself, being cajun (actually, catahoulas are the STATE DOG of Louisiana), i prefer hot peppers, garlic and red wine

 
At July 14, 2005 10:32 PM, Anonymous soofsayer said...

hey clairevoyant, 'dyou see that ms.ery is gonna try the black raspberry avalanche? not the chocolate. score one for the fruit team! go fruit go

 
At July 15, 2005 6:40 AM, Anonymous clairevoyant said...

http://www.coolbrandsinc.com/brands/dreamery/pints/raspberryavalanche.html
EXCUUUSE me, I believe black raspberry avalanche (also one of my fave flaves) is "Loaded with dark choclatey chunks".
go chocolate go!

 
At July 15, 2005 8:03 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

Chocolate Truffle Explosion (though I'm sure if I tried Tirimasu I'd love it.)

 
At July 15, 2005 8:14 AM, Blogger Scott Roche said...

I must throw in that I've also been happy with Blue Bunny, especially their low/no sugar varieties. My wife's family got me to try them. Of course I prefer the full on sugar. The Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate and the Classic Rocky Road are both quite nice.

In addition I like Starbucks Java Chip.

 
At July 15, 2005 11:10 AM, Blogger Scott--DFW said...

TG,

No special love for peanut butter--just the combination of nuts and chocolate, in general. If Dreamery made a gianduja, I'd be all over it.

Scott

 
At July 15, 2005 1:55 PM, Blogger TG said...

i'm with the captain on the blue bunny flavors (my boyfriend got me to try them) and of course i'm all down w/ the sbux ice creams, altho i'm sad they phased out some of their earlier flavors (mocha almond biscotti, sniff sniff)

 
At July 17, 2005 8:37 AM, Anonymous Kirk said...

Thanks to TG's link to Coolbrands, I found one possible reason for Dreamery's quality deterioration and shelf space problems: Coolbrands financial results are melting down due to the loss of licenses, erosion of share and pricing problems.

According to Coolbrands' third quarter earnings release, the company lost its license for Weight Watchers Smart Ones products in July 2004. That, and several other negative factors, caused the company's revenues to drop 14% year over year, and Coolbrands sustained a loss of $6.9 million in this year's quarter versus a net profit of $11.2 million in the same period last year. They've also made acquisitions, played around with the balance sheet, and introduced a whole bunch of bizarre new products -- including Crayola, Care Bears and Justice League frozen treats.

The news release, which by coincidence was issued the same day TG made her original post on Dreamery, said:

"In addition, an exceptionally difficult competitive environment in the U.S. ice cream category adversely affected volume and profit margins on all of the Company’s products, as every economic measure of the ice cream category showed negative trends for sales volume, margins and retail pricing, with total dollar sales down 4%, unit sales down 2.9%, percentage of volume sold on promotion up 2.7% and average promoted price per unit lower by 1.0%, as manufacturer’s launched the largest number of new products in thecategory’s history and competed aggressively for market share during a period of heightened price sensitivity on the part of consumers."

In other words, at least one ice cream company is in serious trouble. I've been watching food companies go through these sorts of convulsions for 25+years and I'll never understand and I'll never understand why they don't stop listening to the MBAs and simply focus on providing products consumers want.

 
At July 18, 2005 8:36 AM, Blogger TG said...

kirk, LOVE your awesome, thorough comment. as is surely obvious from this blog, i am passionate about ice cream; aside from the fact that i grew up eating it every day, i also found it exciting to cover as a reporter because it was one of the few categories in the supermarket that exhibited lots of innovation / new product intros. despite the denials by nestle, dreyers, and the US gov't, it seems like consolidation is destroying that innovation. as a consumer, these days all i see in the store are dreyers, breyers, and blue bell, all offering the EXACT same choices: choc-vanilla combos and about a dozen versions of vanilla. wells/blue bunny and some of the smkt brands occasionally offer interesting alternatives which i applaud but the quality is not as high.

meanwhile, i'm out there speaking with my dollars by buying pints of dreamery. the Nuts About Malt flavor is great

 
At July 24, 2005 11:40 PM, Blogger Kirk said...

Glad you liked it, tg.

 
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