Where Has All the Breyer’s Gone?

posted in: Food 14
This is not what I ate. Screenshot courtesy YouTube, which I feel may be more nutritious than Breyer's "Frozen Dairy Dessert."
This is not what I ate. (Screenshot courtesy YouTube, which may in fact be more nutritious.)


I bought some Breyer’s over the weekend, thinking I was buying ice cream. If you have considered yourself a fan of Breyer’s ice cream but haven’t had any in the past year, I hope you’re sitting down:

Breyer’s ice cream is extremely dead. Long live Breyer’s ice cream.

I don’t get too worked up when a consumer product I like goes away. It’s a product, after all, and there are so many of those. A lipstick shade, a floor wax, a car’s make or model — “nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.”* One must always look on the bright side: you might discover the new shade, the new wax, the new version of the old car is way better. Consider the postage stamp. The sticker-version replaced the older, wetter, “lick me” kind and I think we can all agree life is much better, now

This is not the case with the “new” Breyer’s. A little over a year ago, so I’ve learned, they changed their recipe. The milk, cream, fruit, salt, and dash of guar gum (or whatever) that used to make up their delicious ice cream is long gone. In the place of those sugary and fattening — but recognizable — ingredients, on the back of the Butter Pecan container I found the ingredients to be:

Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Butter Pecans (Pecans, Butter, Cottonseed Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Salt], Cream, Whey, Mono and Diglycerides, Salt, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Lactase Enzyme, Annatto (For Color), Vitamin A Palmitate, Tara Gum.”


Whatever those ingredients in those amount make, it was inedible. I opened the little pint and started to dig in but something was way wrong. Why did it taste…whipped? What was the weird foam-like quality? I looked at the container and spied the truth: I had purchased a “frozen dairy dessert.” Breyer’s is no longer ice cream and I have no qualms about advising you to avoid this brand like the plague. I actually threw it away and I really, really like frozen things that have sugar in them, so that’s saying something. Besides, “Palmitate” sounds like “palpate” and I don’t want that word near my dessert, whatever it’s made of.

At my friend Sarah’s house growing up, there was a candy drawer. And an entire, unlocked drawer that was perpetually stocked with candy was the most astonishing and marvelous thing I had ever considered. There were SweetTarts in there, mini-Hershey’s, Bazooka Joe, lollipops; this was no elderly auntie’s candy dish that might contain a half-pack of Trident or a handful of ancient fireballs. This was a good drawer. Incredibly enough, the kids in that house never really cared that much about it (at least, not as much as I did) precisely because it wasn’t that big of a deal. “Oh, right,” they’d reply, bored in response to my excited inquiries every time I was over, “the candy drawer. Let’s go outside.”

In my family, our treat was ice cream and we usually had some in-house. Maybe Sarah and her siblings were as impressed/enthralled by our freezer as I was about their candy store, I’m not sure. But even if we didn’t view ice cream as being like, a huge wow, there was a hierarchy, an A-list, B-list, and C-list of ice creams and we knew what was what: Blue Bunny was standard, not that great, but better than nothing. Orange Sherbet? Meh, but I’ll have some. We’d dish it up out of a big plastic bucket and eat it while watching Tiny Toons. Then there was the better stuff, which was probably a gallon of Mint Chip or Peppermint Stick — Anderson Erickson, most likely, a Midwest dairy brand.

But Breyer’s, man! Breyer’s was like, Mom’s favorite. It was more expensive. The carton was fancy. It had black on the packaging! How cool was that?? And the vanilla bean flecks? It was from another planet, that ice cream, and it tasted so amazing. I’d go so far as to say that I first understood vanilla, like as a concept and flavor, when I had a spoonful of Breyer’s Real Vanilla Ice Cream in my mouth the first time.

I’m reading Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat: How The Food Giants Hooked Us, which won the Pulitzer and is sickening. The big companies that own the big brands, they will do anything to make a product cheaper, faster, and more efficient for them in terms of ingredients and resources. It’s bad. It’s bad like “frozen dairy dessert” bad. It’s inedible.

This summer, I’m going to buy ice cream that is made locally. There are a lot of places I can do that in New York City. It’s just something on my list.

*Why, yes that is a Kansas reference to “Dust In The Wind.”

14 Responses

  1. KathyMac
    | Reply

    I can’t eat the artificial stuff, but have found that Blue Bunny “All Natural Vanilla Bean” is made from the good stuff. Sugar (not high fructose corn syrup) and all of the rest of the natural dairy things that make our ice cream so good. Edy’s also has several natural ice creams. Not sure what is available for you in your area.

    • Lynn
      | Reply

      Ok. I knew right away a few years ago that Bryers was NOT the same recipe I grew up with. I have discovered Turkey Hill All Natural ice cream has Briers old recipes. Try it and you’ll agree!

  2. Nicole
    | Reply

    I can’t verbalize this well or strongly enough. Breyer’s mint chocolate Chip is my most favorite ice cream. In fact my mother ate it while pregnant with me during a sweltering Miami summer in 1974. I LOVE it! I’m tempted to drive to the store now, it’s 10:30pm and hot in Santa Fe, to confirm your crushing news….I’m dizzy with the loss of this, the confusion as to WHY?!
    I vividly remember the commercial with young children reading the simple and easy to pronounce ingredients. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  3. Catherine
    | Reply

    I agree. Breyers used to be great. That was our favorite ice cream when I lived in Philadelphia. Now it`s flat and bland. It`s not ice cream anymore. I loved the bits of vanilla bean too. The previous poster is right about Blue Bunny. I live in the west and that`s one of the few decent ice creams available here. I prefer the homemade product in little local shops.

  4. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Texas has Blue Bell, and THAT’S the REAL DEAL. AMAZING. They only distribute as far north as Missouri, and we literally go to Kansas City with a cooler and stock up annually (oh, and visit my brother, too). They actually advertise that they only use milk, cream and sugar. Sad that it’s come to that. But I feel happy with a big half-gallon of Blue Bell, any flavor, in the deep freeze. 😉

  5. Becky M
    | Reply

    Being from the Philadelphia burbs, the Breyers brand was always in house growing up. I will say i have not bought it in a long time, but I thought you could still get the “All Natural Vanilla Bean” in the stores. You just have to look closely? Lately, ice cream has been more of a destination for us and the kids, local farm ice cream is the best!
    I have however, been doing a lot more label reading recently and registering my vote with my dollar for real food, not strange ingredients.

  6. RM
    | Reply

    I hate the whipped texture mouth feel so many commercial “ice creams” have these days. It almost reminds me of ice cream that has at least partially melted and then been refrozen. Yuck! Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on the day) we have a two local dairies with stores crazy close to my apartment, so the good stuff is never very far away.

  7. Sydnie
    | Reply

    My elderly (great) auntie had THE BEST candy drawer. She lived just up the street from my grandma (who had a great cookie drawer), but the candy drawer? Totally a thing of wonder.

    • Marilyn lowrey
      | Reply

      Sweet Mary: I always had a “witches brew”…it was a 4 gallon black pot full of candy in my kitchen cabinet. All the kids loved it, and still reference it often. When they would return from college, they would often visit the witches brew first…I now how 3 candy drawers in my kitchen, that are enjoyed by 12 grandbabies/ and older babies too!!!! Ice cream drumsticks are loaded in the freeze!!!! They are just as popular! Love your words Mary, they do make me smile!! Love from Marilyn

  8. Brent
    | Reply

    Not only all of what you have said, but where the hell is my half gallon? 1.5 quarts? You kidding me?

    • Arleen Papula
      | Reply

      I was hospitalized in January after eating a small amount of a eyes Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream. Within 15 minutes I started throwing up and heaving. This lasted for 8hrs, at which time I was taken to the hospital. Symptoms were of Listeria. Was hospitalized for 5 days, during which time a MRI showed a small white spot on my brain, indicating that a small stroke had occurred while vomiting for such a lengthy time. Nausea persisted for the duration of my stay in the hospital. Wanted to send the empty carton to a local lab to test for Listeria, but my family had thrown it out. I am sure that I was poisoned, but have nothing to back it up. I did notice just how soft and foamy the ice cream was, and should have eaten the ice cream. I will never eat any Bryer product, again.

  9. Marty
    | Reply

    As a child in Philly in the 1940s, there was, I believe made by Breyer’s, a product called an Ice Cream Tart. It was frozen, in a shallow wide cup, with a ring of frozen whipped cream on a frozen strawberry jelly type preparation, on top of a bed of Vanilla ice cream. It was delicious and addictive for a ten year old. Anyone remember such a concoction of goodness?

  10. Jen Delamar
    | Reply

    It still boggles the mind that Unilever would tamper with this product. People in the know would gladly pay twice as much to have the original Breyer’s, without any “gums”. Idiots..

  11. Kathy
    | Reply

    I loved Breyers and now it’s terrible! Please change back to the old recipe. I won’t buy again.

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