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Breyer's ice cream quality (split from Ontario board)

Ya, what is it with that? I used to think of Breyer's as alright, but it is terrible now. Alas, I usually get stuck with it when someone else serves it... The mouthfeel of all of them is horribly gummy.

Sometimes, I'm heading to a family event, and it's just not practical to buy Haagen Dazs. Which ice cream do you guys turn to in this case? (I'm looking for a larger package that's less expensive.)

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  1. The Breyer's all natural ice creams really were. They were 50% air, icy, and thin, but the flavours tasted good. Breyer's was especially useful for milkshakes, where heavy super premium ice creams don't blend very well.

    For whatever reason, they pulled this line and replaced it with the "double churned" version, which has nothing to do with churning. They added various emulsifying and stabilizing agents that simulate a richer, creamier mouthfeel. The timing of this was interesting, in that several reviews had concluded that the use or non-use of these additives did not seem to make ice creams either good or bad. There were both good and bad ice creams with and without the additives.

    Unfortunately, Breyer's did a crappy job. The new line does, indeed, feel richer and creamier in the mouth. These are additive induced sensations, since the product is not actually any richer, creamier, or heavier. The change also added a gumminess and somehow ruined the taste. My own experience is that they could have avoided these deficiencies, but they didn't.

    There must have been complaints, since the all natural version eventually reappeared. However, it was sold in smaller containers and at a much higher price. I don't know whether they are still making these, but they couldn't have sold very well. They quickly disappeared from the shelves of everyplace I shop.

    I'd say the best option would be President's Choice. I find some of their flavours really good and others disgusting, but the overall ingredient quality is not bad for the price. We particularly like the mint/chocolate combo and the coconut. If you look at the reviews on the PC website, you'll get some sense of the various flavours.

    Sobey's has a Compliments Sensations ice cream, called something like double chocolate truffle, that won a few awards, but we found it too sweet to eat and threw it out.

    Obviously, YMMV.

    20 Replies
    1. re: embee

      Thanks, embee. My go-to vanilla when I need a larger package has been the PC brand. Hubby and I did a blind taste-testing against Breyer's, and we could tell the difference. I do like it's flavour better, and it seems cleaner on the tongue.

      Though, I note that the PC ice cream is much more expensive these days than it used to be. A few years ago, the prices were better or comparable to Breyer's. Now, Breyer's is much cheaper; if I remember correctly, the PC ice cream was up over $6.00. Which is surprising to me, since I've always thought that the aim of PC was to price itself competitively against the brand it would most closely be compared to. Perhaps, though, Breyer's cuts have resulted in an ice cream they can sell more cheaply (and that was the aim of the recipe change), and now the PC is left on its own??

      1. re: Full tummy

        I think (not certain) that PC is roughly the same price as Haagen Dazs for roughly double the quantity. It was $6.99 earlier this week, but it had been on sale for $4.99 for quite a while.

        Since ice cream is sold by volume, this type of price comparison isn't really valid. You need to weigh each brand to actually compare value.

        1. re: embee

          Hi embee,

          Yes, I understand that. My comparison is more between the PC brand and what I would think of as its closest competitor, Breyer's. Do you think that the Breyer's weighs less? (I haven't weighed them.) Also, I'm not really concerned about being "ripped off", so much as the perception that ice cream buyers have, as most of them do not consider weight, and I think weight measurements are not on the packages, anyway.

          My point is also about marketing--I've always thought of PC ice cream (and some of their other products, as well -- custard, pop, crackers) as marketing itself as the slightly better (or at least as good), slightly cheaper alternative to another readily identifiable brand with similar packaging. I notice that friends of mine are tending to buy Breyer's now (probably because it's cheaper), and I hope that doesn't push the PC line to use cheaper ingredients so they can sell at a comparable price.

          1. re: Full tummy

            I don't see PC and Breyer's as being directly competitive. Leaving out the basics such as chocolate and vanilla, most of the PC ice cream flavours seem to be unique. I should be working, but curiosity got me and I checked the PC website. Some of the flavours are:

            Canadian Maple
            Candy Cane Chocolate Fudge Crackle
            Caramel Cashew Toffee Crunch
            Cherry Chocolate Chunk
            Chocolate Almond Bark
            Chocolate Fudge Crackle Peppermint Chocolate
            Coconut Cream Pie

            I don't think anyone else sells these in Canada. I know their Xmas Candy Cane ice cream is made by Chapman's. I don't know whether Chapman's makes some or all of the other flavours, but Chapman's own brand isn't as good.

            It's instructive that PC ice cream contains a whole whack of additives, but they don't totally ruin the ice cream (as opposed to the additives in Breyer's "double churned").

            1. re: embee

              You're right. Many of the flavours aren't the same, and I suppose if you're hooked on a particular flavour, there's no competition (you're going to buy what you like). I don't tend to like the PC or Breyer's flavours; I find them too sweet (and I'm trying not to eat too much ice cream haha). I am usually looking for a vanilla to eat with pie at holidays, so I guess it does seem more like competition for someone like me...

              1. re: Full tummy

                Loblaw's suddenly has all kinds of new and reformulated PC ice cream flavours. I noticed them for the first time today. One common thread was that the first ingredient in every PC flavour is now cream.

                Breyer's, and many other brands, don't contain any actual "cream" - just "modified milk ingredients".

                1. re: embee

                  Wow! Did you try some? Thanks for the tip.

                  1. re: Full tummy

                    Just one - Mocha Almond Fudge. Good, though not great. Natural flavours with large roasted almonds, espresso chips, and a fudge ribbon. Not horribly sweet. Enough air that it softens much too quickly, but not gummy when it does.

                    We'd get this one again. However, I still prefer the plain Haagen Dazs coffee.

                    1. re: embee

                      I bought the vanilla today. It tastes pretty much the same as the old vanilla. Still my standby. I prefer HD, but it's so dense I find that more is used in each serving (by weight).

      2. re: embee

        And here I thought "double churned" was a marketing gimmick to explain why they were putting less ingredients, in exchange for more air, into the product.

        1. re: yaddayadda

          They were already at the legal maximum for overrun (i.e., added air).

          1. re: embee

            No doubt.

            Anyway... I liked their original products better. That Cookies and Cream of theirs was the only ice cream I bought for a number of years. (It has changed too -- more sweetness, less cookies/cream flavour -- so I stopped buying it.)

            1. re: embee

              I got curious while shopping today. Not accounting for the container weights, which are undoubtedly all different, here's what I found for plain vanilla ice cream:

              Brand--------------------------------Volume------------Weight

              Breyer's Classic------------------1.89 L--------------1 Kg
              Breyer's Double Churn---------1.89 L--------------1 Kg
              President's Choice:-------------1.65 L--------------1 Kg
              Haagen Dazs----------------------0.5 L---------------0.5 Kg

              1. re: embee

                Thanks for the analysis.
                HDazs as heavy as water? That's a surprise, and runs counter to the idea that ice cream needs air mixed into it. Perhaps the heavier cream...

          2. re: embee

            How recently did this transpire? i agree the "double churned" is nasty, and I know Breyers got at least 1 complaint...from me (and answered it, actually.)

            But last time I checked you could still get the "all natural" with no scary ingredients in a limited number of flavors. Has this changed?

            1. re: danna

              I don't know about where you live, but you can't get these in Toronto. They "re-launched" a few all natural flavours, which were in much smaller cartons and sold for a much higher price. They flopped - they were much too expensive for what they were.

              1. re: embee

                Ah ha. I checked the store this weekend (in South Carolina) , and we still have "all natural" in a few flavors. However, there is a new ingredient 'tara gum", which I have never heard of. I haven't tried any lately, but I'm holding out hope it's still tolerable.

              2. re: danna

                I'm curious to know how they responded...

                1. re: Full tummy

                  They were really sorry I didn't like their new product. *sigh*

                  1. re: danna

                    Oh gosh, that's a help. I wonder how long before the rest of the people buying it realize it's a gummy shadow of its former self.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Not sure where you are in Ontario, but if you have access to a Reid's Dairy store I like their ice cream and it's not priced at Haagen Dazs levels. Otherwise, I'd also recommend PC over Breyers.

                1. Too bad Bertillon in Paris doesn't export. Hands down the best ice cream I've ever tasted or likely to taste.

                  1. Breyers was bought by Unilever and it is terrible now. The standard "classic" blue tubs are now labelled "frozen dessert"; ie. it is now so artificial it can't legally be called ice cream. Ew.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: eatongal

                      Yeah, I never did like Breyers, but they've become especially terrible now. I like Stoney Creek ice cream better. Not as good as HD, but also not as expensive.