Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bobtail Year: Thin Mint

March is month ten of my Bobtail Year, two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre. 

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I rushed to Bobtail the first chance I had when they announced an ice cream using Girl Scouts® Thin Mints® cookies. I had a history with this flavor concept, but the two of us had been estranged for many years for reasons I will explain now.

In the grocery store freezer aisle lurks an ice cream imposter known as "frozen dairy dessert." This method of fine-print labeling is used by brands such as Edy's/Dreyer's and Breyers to cut costs, essentially selling the consumer "ice cream" that doesn't actually use cream as a top-tier ingredient. (Often the major ingredient is whey, a substance made famous by an arachnophobic tuffet enthusiast.) Despite its reduced quality and lower cost of production, frozen dairy dessert is sold for the same price as the mass-produced ice cream, even in the "luxury ice cream" section. With deceptive labeling (e.g. the words "ice cream" do not appear on Breyers Blasts) and making appeals to the health conscious crowd (e.g. selling corn-syrup-laden "lite ice cream" whose recipe's central difference is that more air whipped in...Seriously, if you hold both half gallon, you can feel the weight difference. It is the same product, just less of it for the same price), national brands keep their costs low enough that their shoddy products always have retail prices below that of regional brands that use legitimate ingredients to make real ice cream. As a result, the amount of actual ice cream in the "ice cream aisle" is decreasing on an annual basis, especially as brands are jumping on the gelato band wagon to sell a snazzier-sounding, less-regulated product name to sell a "gelato" that has very little in common with the genuine form of its namesake. (If all of this sounds familiar, it's because brands like Hershey's have been doing the same thing, selling a product that is FDA-approved to be called "chocolate" regardless of whether or not it includes a noticeable percentage of cocoa butter or cocoa mass, cutting it with vegetable oil and other fillers.)

The purpose of my rant is this: Edy's/Dreyer's used to make ice cream bearing the official Girl Scouts® logo and Thin Mints® name. But the annual joy of seeing this flavor died the year I discovered that the labeling has changed from "ice cream" to "frozen dairy dessert." (Bravely, I tried the imposter. It had an airy Cool-Whip-meets-marshmallow-fluff-meets-mousse texture and, oddly, wouldn't get as cold as ice cream. My burps tasted like empty calories.) Then, in the past few years, Breyers won the Girl Scouts® contract, but they, too, spit in opportunity's face by creating another frozen dairy dessert monstrosity.

With the fate of Girl Scouts® ice cream in the red hands of corporate America, it is up to the local scoop shops to revive an ice cream that uses Thin Mints® cookies (albeit using a non-trademarked name, such as Thin Mint singular). And, with the help of troop #20308, Bobtail answered the call.

Two things are noticeable when I cracked open my pint of Bobtail's Thin Mint: the ice cream base is white (meaning mint, not mint chocolate like the grocery offerings have been) and the ice cream is PACKED with cookies. The mint of the base is present in the flavor, but only to complement (not overpower) the chocolate of the cookies. (Still, a mint chocolate base might be an improvement.) The cookies maintain their crunch and the crunch fills up nearly every bite. But, flavor analysis aside the true test of whether the ice cream lives up to its namesake cookie is whether I consume far too much of it than I originally intended. (I may or may not have known the shame of eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints cookies, even before this year's smaller box.) And, sure enough, Bobtail's flavor passes the ate-too-much-yet-not-enough test. Here's hoping I can stand to wait another year for it to reappear.