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May 30, 2005 04:18 AM

Dr. Bob's Ice Cream - Quality Differences?

  • b

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 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.