Do you remember the Breyers Ice Cream commercial about a young boy (little Johnny) trying to read the ingredients list of Brand X ice cream?
Little Johnny stuttered and stammered and just couldn’t sound out the words because the names of artificial ingredients like polysorbate 80 were too complicated for him.
Then they gave little Johnny a box of Breyers Strawberry Ice Cream and he read it perfectly:
“Milk, sugar, cream, strawberries”
The narrator then said:
“See, Johnny can read…Can you?”
Before you eat your ice cream, read it!”
I couldn’t find the one with little Johnny in it, but here is a Breyers commerical from about the same time period (1984).
Breyers has been a favorite at my house since I was a kid in the 1970s and few other ice cream except homemade were acceptable. I guess you could say I was a good example of brand loyalty though I tend to think of myself as a person that is not easily influenced by advertising.
I am ashamed to say that the effect of that commercial stuck with me until after the Unilever conglomerate began changing the Breyers recipe in 2006. I didn’t noticed when Unilever started adding Tara gum to Breyers ice cream until my wife mentioned it. I was disappointed that Breyers had abandoned their commitment to simple, natural ingredients, but we continued to buy Breyers Ice Cream.
I was disappointed, but how could I have imagined that this giant ice cream manufacturer that plops hundreds of thousands of gallons of ice cream into coated card board containers was making each carton with love and real commitment to all-natural ice cream and to world peace. Oh yes, forgive me. Tara gum is defined as a natural ingredient by the USDA.
Hey, let’s all run down to the store and get a Tara gum cone with carrageenan sprinkles. I joke, but that is only to keep from crying, because now we find out that Breyers Ice Cream changed the recipe again for many of our favorite flavors and the changes are noticeable.
Wait A Minute, This Don’t Taste Like All-Natural Ice Cream?!
How did we find out? Our first clue that the recipe had changed was the ice cream was very soft when we scooped it. We keep ice cream in the deep freeze at -10° F so it will be hard. Hey, if I am going to eat 1,000 calories of ice cream, I should at least get a workout trying to scoop it.
I had to check the freezer to make sure the power was still connected. No problem with the freezer, so we thought maybe something had propped the freezer door open by mistake.
Our second clue was that the feel, taste and consistency of the ice cream was not the same, it was like all the other cheap “store bought” ice creams that we avoid. It was no longer the rich, thick, sometimes slightly icy, but that completely familiar home made consistency and taste that we like. But we thought that too must have been an artifact of the ice cream being to soft.
But when the cat actually refused to lick the ice cream bowl, we knew something was wrong. We immediately read the label and saw that our old friend; Breyers Butter Pecan Ice Cream is now Breyers Butter Pecan Frozen Dairy Dessert. My wife’s favorite, cherry vanilla ice cream is now cherry vanilla frozen dairy dessert. She didn’t even want to finish what was left in the bowl. What? I knew it.
I thought only the government could screw up ice cream, but I blame Breyers (and Unilever) for this screw up. Shouldn’t they have to issue a public service announcements before they can make changes like this? They had to know that thousands of people would be buying something based on past experience and be fooled like we were. But seriously, what does the cat know that we don’t?
Breyers Butter Pecan Ice Cream Ingredients, Past and Present – Johnny Needs to Expand His Vocabulary!
Here is Breyers Butter Pecan Ice Cream recipe as of March 2012, just before recipe change:
Milk, Cream, Sugar, Butter Pecans (Pecans, Butter, Cottonseed Oil, Salt), Whey, Natural Flavor, Natural Tara Gum, Salt
I can not find the real original recipe, but I believe it was the same except it didn’t have Whey or Tara Gum.
Compare that to the new Breyers Butter Pecan Frozen Dairy Dessert:
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
Yikes! Yes, I can read and I don’t like it.
The butter pecan part of the ice cream, I mean the frozen dairy dessert is about the same, but with three kinds of gum (Carob Bean, Guar and Tara), Carrageenan, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto coloring and Lactase Enzyme, no wonder they had to change from calling it real ice cream (at least 10% cream) to frozen dairy dessert and no wonder the taste and feel has changed. We wonder which of these chemicals; Excuse me, USDA approved Natural Products caused the cat to reject it?
What Breyers Says about The Recipe Change
I called the Breyer’s customer service to see if they could explain the recipe change. They must have received a lot of calls, because I can’t find that number on their website anymore.
The customer service person was very polite and apologetic and started explaining about commodity prices, competition and market trends “Stop!” I said. “There is no love in commodity prices and market trends. I just want my favorite Ice cream back”.
She assured me that all the taste tests showed that people actually prefer the new recipe better. Seeing that they were not going to change the recipe back just because I asked, I apologized for wasting her time and wished her and her company good luck with their new endeavor, a journey they will be taking without us.
About a week later, we received some coupons in the mail from Unilever, which included coupons for Breyers Ice Cream and Frozen Dairy Desserts. We have decided that we will no longer eat Breyers even if it’s free. What’s the point of eating something if you don’t like the taste. All youngsters ignore that last sentence and eat your broccoli, it’s good for you. We might get some free Lipton Tea, though we prefer Luzianne.
It is amazing to me that this abomination to real ice cream was preferred by their taste testers. Who did they use for taste testing? Preschoolers? It must have been people that have never had home-made ice cream. But should we be surprised? How many people today know much about natural or homemade or even know where their food comes from? A hundred years ago, everyone knew that milk came from cows, meat came from animals and most meals were cooked at home from scratch.
Today, food just magically appears in the grocery store, all neatly packaged and wrapped in plastic. Defrosting a frozen manufactured food made by a giant conglomerate in the microwave is considered home cooking. We still laugh at a friend that brought “home-made” banana pudding to a pot-luck dinner. He was very proud of himself though he used an artificially flavored and artificially colored pre-mixed box of instant vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers from a box. He really thought he made banana pudding from “scratch” because he peeled the banana.
Make Your Own Ice Cream – It’s Easier Than You Think
We no longer eat anything Breyers and instead, make our own homemade ice cream with our favorite ice cream maker.
In a follow-up post, we discuss other brands of ice cream and if store-bought, all-natural ice cream even exists. We will also explain what thickening, stabilizing and emulsifying agents are and if they are indeed unhealthy. Note: New study shows emulsifiers may cause gut inflammation, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colitis.
Question: Have you stopped being a Breyers Ice Cream fan or do you still buy Breyers despite the changes?