Friday, December 26, 2008

Ep.6: Häagen-Dazs is better than Santa Clause.

Though my dad and I could have continued driving and exploring America for much longer, we wanted to be home for Christmas. After visiting family near New Orleans, we drove long stretches with no stopping to get to southeast Virginia on time for holiday celebrations.

From what I remember, the last ground-breaking new holiday-themed ice cream to hit grocery stores was Ben & Jerry's Seinfeld-inspired Festivus ice cream, which was essentially gingerbread ice cream. Other grocery store brands jumped on the band wagon in years to come, offering their own gingerbread ice creams. But since then, there's been a dry spell of new holiday-themed flavor ideas. I mean, we've already got eggnog, pumpkin, candy cane and gingerbread. So what's left? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire ice cream? Pine-scented Christmas tree ice cream? Venison ice cream? Häagen-Dazs has outdone themselves again with their latest Limited Edition flavor: Peppermint Bark. Wait, but with mint chocolate chip and candy cane ice cream already on the market, is this a new idea for ice cream? Yes, and here's why.

In its native form, peppermint bark is a holiday treat that is part chocolate, part white chocolate (sometimes mint-infused) and part crunchy candy cane. It sticks out as something different in the mint candy genre. Equal parts creamy, minty and chocolatey. Ghirardelli's Peppermint Bark has been the favorite treat in my Christmas stocking for years.

Mint ice cream exists in many forms. My mom prefers the especially crunchy candy cane variety. I prefer the creamier mint chip variety. Some have a mint ice cream base, other vanilla. Some have cookies mixed in, others Andes mints or York peppermint patties. Some have a mint flavor only at first taste, others are extra-minty and linger like a breath-freshening mint. There are others still: an entirely separate category of chocolate-based mint flavors such as Girl Scout Thin Mint. But until now, no grocery store brand has sought to marry the flavors (and textures) of peppermint bark in an ice cream. Until now.

Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark is a white chocolate ice cream with bits of peppermint bark broken up throughout and some extra pieces of candy cane mixed in. This combination makes it a mint ice cream my mom and I can agree on. Maybe that's why she knew it would be a perfect gift for me this Christmas. Thanks, Mom!

UPDATE: After extensive "research," I've decided the best way to eat this concoction is to double-fist Ghirardelli's Peppermint Bark with the Häagen-Dazs. This increases the chocolate content, but also provides the added bonus of prolonging how long each product will last.

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