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Dr. Bob's Ice Cream - Quality Differences?

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  • Briggs May 30, 2005 04:18 AM
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I know there are those here that tout its virtues, so I'm wondering if the Dr. Bob's Ice Cream purchased at the original store in Upland is different than what's sold at Gelson's or other retail locations.

I got the Scharffen Berger chocolate last year, and thought that while it tasted okay (I'm not a fan of deep chocolate ice cream), all the other artificial crap added a gummy aftertaste. I picked up the Tahitian Vanilla at Gelson's last night, and must say it was truly dreadful - both in taste and texture. Not creamy at all, and had a chemical taste I associate with really cheap ice creams.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be contentious, but I honestly can't see how anyone could think it compares favorably to Fosselman's, let alonge Haagan-Daz or even Breyer's - the last two which have no guar gum, diglycerides, corn syrup solids or carageenan.

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  1. I tasted the strawberries, brown sugar and sour cream flavor, freshly made, at the LA County Fair the year before last. It was perhaps one of the peak ice cream experiences of my life, and I'm an ice cream addict. Then when it became available at Gelson's I rushed to buy a pint. Night and day would be stating the differences mildly. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't purchase that flavor in the grocery store ever again, and a brief, mild depression ensued.

    I haven't been to the store in Upland so can't answer the question specifically, but IIRC this was discussed some time back and the product isn't the same.

    I too really didn't like the Dr. Bob's Tahitian vanilla, but some of that has to do with what I have finally figured out is an ultra-sensitivity to the strong floral aspects of Tahitian vanilla in preparations such as ice cream and creme brulee where the vanilla flavor is really pronounced. I don't like Haagen-Daz vanilla either, for the same reason.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W.

      I was in Pomona and decided to make a side trip to the store in downtown Upland. I had previously examined the containers of Dr. Bob's at Surfas and noted the presence of the "bad" stuff, and wondered how good it could actually be. I subsequently had the chocolate pecan and found it disappointing. But the strawberries, brown sugar, sour cream (which I bought at Dr. Bob's) was a stellar experience. I guess it's Dr. Bob's scientific background that enabled him to formulate this flavor that actually manages to make the separate components remain discrete.

      1. re: LT from LF

        "I guess it's Dr. Bob's scientific background that enabled him to formulate..."

        He should use some of that background to make the commercial versions taste better... Not to veer too far from LA food, but even though Ben & Jerry's has some stabilizers, it still tastes a hell of a lot better than Dr. Bob's (at least the vanilla).

    2. b
      Barham Turner

      I have been following Dr. Bob's since its introduction and am a fan, particularly of the dark chocolate flavors--apparently we don't share that propensity. To address your question, there shouldn't be a difference between the ice cream at different locations. Moreover, the original Dr. Bob's in Upland is now owned by another operator, comparable to a franchisee. The stores at the L.A. County Fairgrounds are still owned by Dr. Bob, as far as I know.

      That having been said, I have noticed quality differences that could be attributed to any of several factors:

      1. Dr. Bob's is a small operation and literally handmade. Mistakes happen. A couple of years ago we purchased some pumpkin pie ice cream at the Upland store over the Thanksgiving holidays and it was terrible. I think they forgot to add sugar. Seriously awful. Major mistake. I don't think that happens very often or they'd be out of business but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

      2. More importantly, ice cream is highly perishable. Yes, it's frozen but it's at its best fresh-frozen. (Actually it's at its best right out of the machine. I've had that experience and it ranks right up there with, well, you fill in the blank.) If the ice cream is old or has been subjected to temperature changes it can get gummy, ploggy or crystalline pretty quickly. It is to help avoid those problems that Dr. Bob adds the various stabilizers that are on the ingredients list.

      As for a chemical flavor, I haven't detected it.

      I do think it's particularly important for Dr. Bob's ice cream to be served at the right temperature. Never serve it right out of the freezer! I let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes or so, or more often (when I can't wait), nuke it for 10-20 seconds. It should be softening. Otherwise you can't taste that deep flavor that the good doctor is known for.

      Anyway, your question certainly bears further investigation. We went to Gelson's yesterday and loaded up on three pints. (Really Dark, The Works and Chocolate Chip.) The holiday weekend is looking up!

      1. Since when are Guar Gum and Carageenan artificial crap?

        These are thickeners, but they are made from plants and so I wouldn't consider them artificial. Did you mean to say they are artificial in that if you made ice cream on your own they wouldn't be required?

        Considering when you have to make food in bulk and need to make sure it is able to hold up to various factors outside of your control, there is a certain need for "addititives" in order for it to hold up.

        If anybody lives in Los Angeles, the best option would be to go to Frank's Famous in Montrose, where they scoop various flavors of the ice cream, and in general is fresh. Ice cream held in supermarket freezers has to go through a constant cycle of defrosting and freezing, as well as the occasional "considerate people" who leave the freezer doors open etc.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MarkinLA

          Hi all. As tempting as it is to stray away from the ice cream and get into the additives, (whether natural or not) in the ice cream, lets stay focused on the local food here. If you want to start a new thread on additives then please go over to the General Topics board to do that. Thanks for your cooperation.

        2. Dr. Bob's at Gelson's is such a waste of money. The Tahitian Vanilla is a joke...at your expense. Hell none of the flavors are nothing to write home about. Gelsons doesn't even stock that brown sugar one anymore. Give me Ben & Jerry's any day.

          1. I think some of the Dr. Bob's flavors--esp the the nut ones--have a greasy mouthfeel. Maybe the higher butterfat combined with nuts is too much. I liked the strawberry/brown sugar and the dark chocolate but I don't think this brand is the 2nd coming of Ice Cream Christ.
            But then I still miss Steve's of Somerville.

            1. After hearing about it from a board posting, I found out that Bert 'n Rocky's Ice Cream is the real "find" in Upland. Dr. Bob's pales in comparison, though I will admit that a couple of years ago Dr. Bob was putting out some stellar stuff. At his store in Upland, Dr. Bob is now selling "premium french fries" which are an overgreasy brand of commercial fries - absolutely dreadful.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jameson

                Actually, I find the Bert 'n Rocky's in Claremont to be superior to the Upland location, but they are both good.

              2. I've purchased Dr. Bob's at Surfas, at Bristol Farms in Irvine and at the shop in Upland. I think there is a transportation quality-control issue.

                The ice cream my friends and i ate from the Upland store was stellar. The distributed cartons were not up to snuff and it was pretty obvious that the carton i bought at Surfas had thawed at some point because it was very icey.

                Dr. Bob, if you're reading this, you've got to figure out how to ensure that your product is transported properly.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Est

                  Well this is an old board but I felt I should update it with my experience.

                  My first pint I picked up at gelsons it was good but not anything remarkable too gummy or something. It was the really dark chocolate.

                  My second experience was opposite, the ice cream had an amazing rich texture. I picked up 2 quarts at Surfas in LA the Brown Sugar Pecan and the Shcraffen Berger works. Both were phenomenal better then any ice cream I’ve had on the west coast. I think surfas had just gotten a shipment in though since they were well stocked.

                  That said I would NEVER EVER buy it at Gelsons again.

                  Ben

                  1. re: Ben7643

                    I got mine from How's. Once in a while a pint can be on the icy side. Definitely can be negatively impacted from improper transport and storage. You really do have to let the carton sit in room temperature or defrost in refridgerator for a while to get the creamy soft texture and optimal taste. Eating it straight of the freezer is a crime.

                    I thought the vanilla is the best out of any store bought versions (maybe except for Fresh & Easy's). My favorite has to be the sour cream and strawberry as well. I never had a gummy carton, just maybe a slightly icy one.

                    1. re: notmartha

                      I picked up a pint of the strawberry sour cream brown sugar from the wine house today to compare it to the quart. It doesn't compare at all the larger size you get at surfas has pockets of brown sugar and strawberry. The pints you can pick up at wine house/gelsons while good don't come close to the homeade quality of the ones in the larger size. So from now on i'll be sticking ot the larger quarts even if they are more dangerous to keep around.

                2. Although my greatest pleasure is Espresso Coffee Ice Cream, I have found Dr. Bob's Scharfenberger/Works to be poetry in the mouth! I like to spike it with a bit of orange liquer for the greatest effect! Jet

                  1. http://www.franksfamous.com/icecream.asp

                    Dr. Bobs no longer has a scoop shop in Upland. As far as I know, Franks is the only place that scoops Dr. Bobs.

                    1. Try Mc Connell's Ice Cream