Wednesday, August 6, 2008
New product Wednesday, at Dallas-area stores: Dreyer’s Limited Edition Coconut Pineapple
The title says nothing about "ice cream," and that's no mistake.
Dreyer's ice cream has been on such a downward spiral, quality-wise, that it's not even fun to slam it; it seems kinder to just ignore it altogether. But the Limited Edition Coconut Pineapple represents a new slump so low that it's worth noting.
The product has undergone a stealthy change in size (smaller) and formulation (blechier).
On first glance, the two cartons look like the same thing: Dreyer's Limited Edition Pineapple. Both made by Dreyer's. Both limited editions. Both "coconut pineapple" flavor. But dissimilarities emerged.
Size. One, on the right, which we'll call FAKE, is noticeably smaller: 1.5 quarts. The one on the left, which we'll call OLD, is 1.75 quarts.
The trend towards smaller began a few years ago, when ice cream makers scaled down the longtime traditional 64-ounce half-gallon to a 56-ounce 1.75-quart size.
This new shrinkage takes it down to 48 ounces. Dreyer's CEO Tim Kahn claims that the company had to shrink the size or would have to charge $7.
Pretty soon, all they'll sell is single-serving cups.
Date. The OLD carton has an older expiration date stamped on the bottom, namely: 12/11/08. The FAKE carton has 1/24/09. Ergo, FAKE is newer than OLD. Is FAKE replacing OLD? Would love to say yes or no here but the folks at Dreyer's did not respond to phone calls or e-mails.
Should ice cream companies be expected to respond to media inquiries about the products they sell? They're not the government, right? Except that, when a company doesn't want to answer a basic question about what's in the product or how it's doing business, you can probably assume there's something fishy about the product or the way it's doing business.
Identity. OLD says "Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream", and then to the side, in smaller letters, "Coconut ice cream with pineapple pieces." (These details can be seen in the deluxe whoo-hoo photo gallery.)
FAKE makes no mention of ice cream at all. The front tries to avoid the "what is this stuff??" issue entirely, by limiting the words to "Dreyer's", "Limited Edition", and "Coconut Pineapple". To the side, it says "Pineapple pieces in coconut flavor" -- coconut flavor what? Only on the top lid does it say anything, and that's: "frozen dairy dessert".
- OLD: "milk, cream, sugar, skim milk, corn syrup, pineapple, coconut, natural flavor," and then the usual suspects -- carob bean gum, cellulose, etc.
- FAKE: "whey (dairy), skim milk, sugar, cream, corn syrup, pineapple, maltodextrin, coconut, natural flavor," and then the usual suspects.
Wow, so in the newer FAKE version, the No. 1 ingredient is now WHEY. Which is "the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained; a by-product of the manufacture of cheese ... also an additive in many processed foods, including breads, crackers and commercial pastry, and in animal feed."
The short version: Whey is a cheap replacement for actual milk solids. Ice cream companies started pestering the U.S. government in 2003 to be able to use more whey in their products. Their rationale is hilarious:
"By far the most significant directive is to remove the old restriction on how manufacturers add dairy protein to ice cream, and to let the manufacturer decide on the best mix of milk protein ingredients. While we expect the largest source of protein will continue to be fresh nonfat solids, the petition will allow us to employ more functional whey products. Whey proteins can offer superior properties in gelation (preventing ice crystals), freezing and whipping, among other attributes.
Ice cream manufacturers need more flexibility in using dairy ingredients – especially whey products. This is particularly true now, as we develop dozens of new ice cream products each year – from great-tasting nonfat and no-sugar-added flavors, to dulce de leche and candy crunch – for a broad range of consumers with many different desires. Flexibility in formulating is more important than ever as we meet market demands."
Taste, texture. The difference in flavor and texture was apparent though not overwhelming. The newer FAKE version had the same shreds of coconut and bits of pineapple that the OLD one had, but the texture of the ice cream felt fluffier and less creamy.
Calories. Whey saves you some calories.
- FAKE has 120 calories per serving. OLD: 140 calories per serving.
- FAKE has 4.5 grams of fat. OLD has 7 grams of fat.
- FAKE has 60 mg of sodium. OLD has 35 mg of sodium.
- FAKE has 19 carbs, OLD has 17 carbs.