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Which is the best vanilla ice cream?

The only threads I've found on this topic were pretty old, so I'm starting a new one. This is for Mr Rat, who is using it to make alcoholic milkshakes and has decided that Ben and Jerry's vanilla is terrible. He thinks it just tastes "gummy" with sweeteners. Any suggestions? We are in NYC. Oh, and while we are enthusiastic home cooks we're not going to be making ice cream, so I'm just asking about commercially available brands. Thanks in advance.

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  1. In Texas we like Blue Bell vanilla bean!

    6 Replies
    1. re: CVCVCV

      I had some Blue Bell (not Vanilla) while in Louisiana, but it would cost a small fortune to have it shipped to NYC.

      1. re: mcsheridan

        I can get Blue Bell and I tried their vanilla and was not impressed. It seemed to be thin and a bit icy.

      2. re: CVCVCV

        Well, if I ever see this in NYC I will give it a shot.

        1. re: ratgirlagogo

          Don't be confused by Blue Bunny; more available here, but very definitely *not* in this Same League with Blue Bell.

        2. re: CVCVCV

          We used to get Blue Bell vanilla shipped to CA for an annual BBQ. Highlight of the meal!

        3. Would this ingredient list pass muster? "Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Glucose Syrup, Egg Yolk, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Carrageenan and Vanilla Extract." That's Yuengling's Vanilla, made in PA and available in selected markets regionally.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mcsheridan

            I'm sure the ingredients list is equivalent to the Ben and Jerry's ingredients list. I don't think that's the problem, it's that he doesn't like the taste of the Ben and Jerry's, despite the decent ingredients. Have you eaten this vanilla and do you like it? I've never seen it in NYC but then I wasn't looking for it.

            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              It's my go-to Vanilla. Not to your point, but their "Black and Tan" (rich chocolate & salted caramel) flies off the shelves - it's scrumptious! Worth driving into NJ for? Only you and Mr. Rat can say.

              You're right; you rarely see what you're not really looking for.


              1. re: mcsheridan

                No car, so not happening. But I'll keep an eye out for it.

                1. re: mcsheridan

                  I just noticed on the site that this ice cream IS connected to the Yuengling brewery! Who knew? Fascinating.

                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    Yup...by history and family connection, yet they are completely separate businesses.

            2. I'm in NY too and really like the ice creams from Adirondack Creamery: http://adirondackcreamery.com/ My favorite is the coffee flavor; they claim it will keep you up at night! Haven't noticed that. The vanilla is certainly worth a try. It's very good ice cream. Buy a pint and see what you think. Fairway has it, but after mentioning it at my local market in lower Westchester (De Cicco) they have it now too.

              7 Replies
                1. re: Pat Hammond

                  Hmmm, I'll have to look for it when back in Plattsburgh. I've never heard of Adirondack Creamery. Is it a fairly new company? I just looked at their site. The closest to Plattsburgh is Saratoga. Maybe next summer.

                  1. re: Candy

                    Really no idea how long it's been around. I tried to figure it out from the website, but failed. I first heard about it 2 years ago around Thanksgiving when a friend was raving about the pumpkin flavor. I don't like pumpkin, but spotted the coffee flavor, my all time favorite, but I do love the vanilla. Hope you can find it.

                  2. re: Pat Hammond

                    My friend in NYC told me about this brand and raved about their kulfi flavor.

                    1. re: ninrn

                      This is a delicious pistachio cardamom ice cream.

                      1. re: EM23

                        woo, now i must hunt for this ice cream flavor.

                    2. Haagen Daz is very good, and carrageenan-free.

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: EM23

                        I much prefer Haagen Dazs to Ben and Jerry's. It's really creamy and natural tasting and not quite as sweet as B&J's. The flavor is pretty much what you get from homemade vanilla made from a good custard base. You can even use it, melted, as a quick creme anglaise in a pinch.

                        1. re: bear

                          Of course this will be the easiest to find, so I hope he likes it. Thanks.

                          1. re: bear

                            B&J is another brand with additives, whereas HD is just cream, milk, eggs and vanilla.

                            Friends were telling me that they had the best hot chocolate they have ever tasted at a little café, out east. The server told them it was warmed HD chocolate ice cream.

                            1. re: bear

                              HD is the way to go! Along with the crème anglaise, you can also melt it and add nutmeg for eggnog.

                              Blows B&J and most others out of the water.

                              1. re: bear

                                Yes nothing like HD. Even a lot of high end restaurants use HE if they don't make ice cream.

                                1. re: Monica

                                  I can't think of hardly any high-end restaurants in NYC these days that actually offer ice cream for dessert.

                                  Seems it's always gelato, sorbet, or granita.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    maybe the popular trendy ones that always get mentioned here in Manhattan board but there are a lot of high end restaurants that still serve ice cream.

                                2. re: bear

                                  I prefer Haagen-Dazs' vanilla bean to their regular vanilla flavor, which tastes too much like vanilla extract to me.

                                  1. re: Jay F

                                    Bean, extract, either works for me as long as it's real.

                                3. re: EM23

                                  I prefer Häagen Dazs to B&J. What makes me unhappy is that it's now a 14 oz. "pint." Since I refuse to spend >$4 for a pint of ice cream, I wait for it to go on sale.

                                  Trader Joe's vanilla isn't bad. I love Bassett's French Vanilla but it's not available in NYC that I know of.

                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                    $2.50 at Shoprite this week!
                                    Friends served TJ's vanilla with dessert last week, and while I liked the taste, it had an odd whipped texture. Turns out that it has a couple of gums as ingredients, so I guess that's the reason.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        So "natural vanilla flavor" is not so real? Good to know.

                                        1. re: EM23

                                          Good to know, and disgusting that that's the way it is!

                                      2. re: EM23

                                        Considering its price, it's okay.

                                  2. Growing up in the fifties & sixties around NYC Breyers Vanilla was very good & popular then when Unilever bought the company it went downhill. Now it's nothing special.
                                    I get what Mr.Rat says about Ben & Jerry's and other super premium ice creams tasting gummy. Besides the thickeners & emulsifiers etc. sometimes the butterfat content is just too high, IMHO. We briefly had an Abbotts Frozen Custard store locally that closed. They never found an audience here, I suspect, because it was more expensive than DQ or Carvel. Too bad, it was awesome, especially the vanilla! It's a Rochester NY based company but I don't see any NYC locations.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: zackly

                                      Intriguing. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                      1. re: zackly

                                        We used to have Custard Beach but it closed a long time ago. :( However, you just reminded me that the Shake Shack has awesome frozen custard and I'm sure their vanilla is just as good as their less mainstream flavors.

                                      2. Dreyer's/Edy's Double Vanilla is pretty good for a supermarket product. Too bad I've all but given up ice cream.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          Edy's has gums, corn syrup, emulsifiers, and fake vanilla. It's rampant. Real ice cream is hard to find.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            Lovin' Scoopful and Tillamook are made with natural vanilla, but those are not national brands. They do have gums, as I expect all supermarket ice cream does. The OP is asking about commercial ice cream specifically.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              A couple of points:

                                              "natural vanilla" is not real vanilla. But looking at the Tillamook website, they do use real vanilla, although they also do the corn syrup, gums, and emulsifiers.

                                              No, "all supermarket ice cream" does not have the gums; Haagen Daz does not. The last time I looked, it was a nationally available brand.

                                              I'm not sure why you're specifically telling me that the OP is asking about commercial ice cream - ? I haven't suggested anything other than that.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                I take "real ice cream" to mean "non-commercial ice cream." If that's not what you meant, it was a misunderstanding. A misunderstanding is not surprising, because "real" doesn't mean anything.

                                        2. Not sure if you'll find it NYC, but our favorite store brand is Brighams. They were taken over by H P Hood in 2008, but so far they have not lost the quality (as with traditional Hood ice cream).


                                          It does contain guar gum & carrageenan, but it doesn't get ice crystals as I've typically found in other brands such as Breyers.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: Clams047

                                            I agree, Brighams vanilla has always been my favorite. I don't think it's in NYC tho.

                                            1. re: Clams047

                                              With all the talk about Hagan Daz being the best, we just did a side-by-side taste test vs. Brighams (our preferred).

                                              As for the facts, the Hagan Daz (with ground vanilla bean) lists 270 cal, 17 g fat, 23 g sugar and 25 g carbs, where 14 oz sold for $3.50 ($0.25/oz).

                                              Brighams lists 200 cal, 12 fat grams, 17 g sugar and 18 g carbs, where 32 oz sold for $3.99 ($0.125/oz).

                                              As for the taste test, we both found no significant difference in the flavor (both excellent with no artificial after taste), but we did detect some difference in the texture.

                                              The Hagan Daz was somewhat more grainy, more in line with an ice milk texture. We found the Brighams to be somewhat creamier, which is probably a function of some added guar gum and carrageenan. I'm guessing that's what some are referring to as "gummy".

                                              HD has perhaps 30-40% more solids, but costs twice as much vs. the Brighams. Even ignoring that price difference, we much prefer the somewhat "creamier" texture of the Brighams - still our preferred brand.

                                              Both have cream, milk, sugar and vanilla extract as their primary ingredients where HD has added ground vanilla bean. Brighams has some lesser ingredients including guar gum, mono and diglycerdies and carrageenan, but in this case we find the added ingredients seem to improve the texture.

                                              1. re: Clams047

                                                I have never found HD to be grainy - it's very creamy. I do buy the vanilla rather than the vanilla bean, however - maybe that has something to do with our different experiences. Or, once someone is accustomed to the gums and emulsifiers, perhaps that texture becomes their expectation?

                                                The difference in calories, etc., can likely be credited to more air (overrun) in the Brighams.

                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  Y'know, next time I catch a sale, I'm going to have to buy both (if they're available) to do a side-by-side comparison. I seem to recall that they used to make only one or the other when they first hit the scene, plus a Honey Vanilla. They also had Carob, and a Ginger that tasted like frozen Chinese food. Both were beyond awful (and whoever came up with the notion that chocolate is healthful is a genius).

                                                2. re: Clams047

                                                  The first ingredient is cream but it has an ice milk texture? :O

                                                  I don't think there's an objective "best." "Best" is in the mouth of the beholder. I personally prefer Häagen-Dazs because, in addition to qualities I perceive to be positive, I don't think gums and/or carrageenan enhances either flavor or mouthfeel. By the same token, I like kulfi, gelato, and frozen custard as well. I like keeping ingredients, including air, minimal.

                                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                                    I didn't intend to imply it was better / preferred because it had a small amount of gums and carrageenan (lower amount than the vanilla extract, so it must be quite low), but rather our preferred "creamier" texture of the Bringhams product in a blind taste test was likely due to those components which happen to be present, since they make up the significant difference in reported components.

                                                    Bottom line, regardless of price or components, we both much preferred the texture of Brighams vs. HD. The HD we tried had a somewhat grainy texture which tended to melt into a watery product.

                                                    I probably should state that we are not a fan of what are likely heavily gummed products (Hood, Friendly's, Edy's, etc) which don't really melt when left out and do taste gummy to us - the other side of the spectrum. It's that we have found Brigham's to be our preferred product, regardless of its ingredients.

                                                    1. re: Clams047

                                                      But that's my point. "Best" is ultimately personal. No need to explain further. The qualities that comprise your "best" (or, since we're comparing two here, "better") and mine differ.

                                                  2. re: Clams047

                                                    It's certainly possible that the HD just isn't to your taste. But a grainy texture could indicate improper storage at some point in the chain before it got to you.

                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                        One thing Haagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream is not is grainy.

                                                      2. re: Clams047

                                                        OP here - in a way it doesn't matter to me which is better since we can't get Brigham's in NYC in any case.

                                                    1. "Which is the best vanilla ice cream?"
                                                      when in Texas, the favorite was Blue Bell

                                                      1. Well I'm really no help here since I make my own ice cream & the best vanilla I know comes from The Creamery @ Penn State University. I know they ship some but no idea if you can find it in NYC.

                                                        1. Talenti.

                                                          If that's too pricey, then Costco's Kirkland Signature Super Premium Vanilla Ice Cream is a fantastic bargain. Haagan Daz isn't too bad either, but between that or Kirkland, I'd go to Costco 9 out of 10 times.

                                                          If you're ok with mail-order (and not everyone is and that's ok), then you cannot do better than Salt & Straw. http://saltandstraw.com/index.php

                                                          19 Replies
                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            I just looked at a Talenti gelato at the store, and I has a gum in it.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  OP is concerned about a gummy texture.

                                                                  I don't care for ice cream with gums, either.

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      Absolutly no "gummy" texture in talenti's products, they're comparable to grom's gelato in texture and flavor.

                                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                        I disagree - I'm not a fan of Talenti products. IMO, the texture is all wrong for gelato.

                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                          It's worth buying a few for the reusable containers, however.

                                                                      2. re: sandylc

                                                                        Sandy, I am as particular about fillers in ice cream as you are, and I like a few flavors of Talenti: Caramel Cookie Crunch, Raspberries and Cream (the texture of the raspberries takes some getting used to), Belgian Milk Chocolate, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup.

                                                                        I don't like any of Talenti's other chocolate flavors, though. They're all cold, sweet goo.

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          A "filler" is something added merely to ncrease the volume (or weight) without spending much money. For example, more air than is necessary to get an ideal consistency is "filler." Most of things added to ice cream are there for some other reason than "watering down" the product and are not filler.

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    He's gotten Talenti before and I seem to remember that he liked it. I think his only issue with Talenti is that not that many places carry it, but I'll ask him. I'm not going to Costco for anything since they have only one location in NYC which is mobbed all the time, plus I don't live or work that close to it. I will grudgingly do mail-order if I have no other options, but I'm not going to do it for ice-cream. But thank you for showing me my options - maybe I will order something else from them.

                                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                      Easier to find now, but best price is at either fairway or whole foods

                                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                        Actually, best price is at Costco.


                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                          Up thread the OP said they don't belong to costco...

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                        Have you noticed a change in the Kirkland ice cream lately? I used to LOVE it, but the last few times I've bought it the texture has seemed different, almost marshmallowy. Maybe it's just my ever-changing taste buds.

                                                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                                                          Oh no, really? I love Kirkland's vanilla ice cream because it's so similar to Haagen (dense, not airy, and not gummy) but I haven't gotten it in a really long time. When I think of a marshmallowy texture I think of Edy's, or something with a lot of air and gums in it, and that's exactly what I hate. I will have to check when I buy it again, but I really hope they haven't messed with it.

                                                                          1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                                                            It's definitely not airy, to my taste, but it doesn't ever really seem to freeze hard anymore. My freezer is always set at 0F and super-premium ice creams generally come out quite hard, but lately the Kirkland always seems soft. It seems sweeter, too. I believe there are a couple of gums listed on the label now that didn't use to be there, but it's entirely possible that I am remembering incorrectly.

                                                                      2. For what it's worth, Consumer Reports rated B&J vanilla slightly higher than Haagen Daz. Blue Bell was further down on the list. Also, you might consider Giffords from Maine, but sold in select stores in the NY area. Their website mentions only milk and sugar and flavorings.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: otisman

                                                                          Giffords is FANTASTIC. We were in Maine a couple of weekends ago and stopped at a roadside stand that sold Giffords - it's really delicious ice cream. I need to see if I can find it in NYC.

                                                                        2. I like bluebunny all natural vanilla and turkey hill all natural, bluebunny is custardy because of egg, turkey hill is milky because of the absence of eggs. They are both very delicious but both a bit too sweet. Because they both don't have syrup and gum, you must make sure it never gets too warm or you will get a lot of ice.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: mimolette

                                                                            I put in my two cents for the TURKEY HILL ALL NATURAL. No gums or fillers. No corn syrup. Only neg is it has a lot of air, which doesn't matter if making a milkshake.


                                                                            1. re: phantomdoc

                                                                              Thinking about alcoholic drinks you might want to try the Turkey Hill All Nat Cherry Vanilla with Amaretto DiSarono.

                                                                          2. If you have access to Costco, their Kirkland vanilla is better than any other widely available vanilla ice cream I have ever eaten.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              I love the Kirkland Vanilla ice cream....delicious and a great value.

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                I would disagree about Kirkland Vanilla. I find it gummy, overly sweet and too heavy handed of a vanilla flavor which it makes it slightly medicinal tasting to me. On the other hand my wife loves it. I guess that's why Baskin & Robbins makes 31 flavors.

                                                                                1. re: zackly

                                                                                  I agree! I thought I was the only one. I bought two gallons of it (Costco...) and to me it tastes like they dumped in way too much vanilla extract.

                                                                              2. For amazing stuff get the talenti vanilla bean gelato, or ciao bella- both at fairway, whole foods, amish market, among others. Sometimes they go on sale at fairway 2/$6. Since its gelato he can prob just use a little less, the flavor is really wonderful.
                                                                                Ronnybrook makes awesome ice cream, available by the pint at their store in chelsea market but kinda hard to find anywhere else retail....

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                  Don't know if it's still the case, but a few years back (when I still lived in NYC...), Ronnybrook pints were always available at Garden of Eden.

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    You can get Ronnybrook @ the Union Square Farmer's Market. My cousin runs their stand there.

                                                                                    1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                                                                      They sell the ice cream at the farmers market?? I've just seen the milk, but maybe i didnt look closely enough...

                                                                                2. I have not been impressed with any of the commercial vanilla ice creams. The vanilla tastes artificial and in many cases it is just too strong.

                                                                                  1. I did a similar post on another board. Following hip replacement it was all you can eat Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla + hydrocodone + morphine = nirvana. Takes me right back to the 70's.

                                                                                    1. When I reach for vanilla, I reach for Blue Bell Home Made Vanilla.

                                                                                      1. Of the mass market national brands, HD.

                                                                                        Ben & Jerry's lives on reputation with a very long half-life that has not been deserved for a while. It's not unique in that regard.

                                                                                        1. This topic inspired me to do a little research on vanilla ice cream today at my regular supermarket. At today's prices, Hägen-Dazs (HD) is $6 USD for 1 3/4 pint (28 fl. oz.). Tillamook (with Madagascar vanilla) is $5 for 1 3/4 quart. I was shocked by the price differential. HD is not my usual brand, but I've had it. It's good, but not twice as good as Tillamook. I would buy Tillamook if they were the same price, unless I needed the small size. But at more than double the price, I wouldn't even consider HD.

                                                                                          I don't think HD costs any more to make. My guess is that there are enough people who want ice cream without gum at any cost, so HD and the supermarkets are taking advantage of the situation. HD has little shelf space, because there aren't many people for whom price is no object, but there are enough to make it worthwhile to stock the brand at these prices.

                                                                                          43 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                            Having nothing better to do sitting here at 11 pm, I thought I'd compare the two a bit further.

                                                                                            Here it is:

                                                                                            ½ cup has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein

                                                                                            Ingredients: Cream, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Whole Milk, Condensed Skim Milk, Contains less than 2% of the following: Vanilla, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Mono- and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 80, Carrageenan.

                                                                                            Haagen Dazs:
                                                                                            ½ cup has 250 calories, 17 grams of fat, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein

                                                                                            Ingredients: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract

                                                                                            A few thoughts:

                                                                                            Tillamook isn't very widely available. I've actually never seen it before, and a search on their website tells me that only one store, a Wal-Mart, in my metro area carries it.

                                                                                            Since HD has more calories, fat, sugar, protein, etc. than Tillamook, I suspect that Tillamook has more incorporated air than HD. I guess the way to find out would be to actually weigh them, or melt them and see what you end up with. Air is the secret weapon of the ice cream industry to increase profits.

                                                                                            I find it interesting that Tillamook actually has cellulose in it. Really?

                                                                                            Reading both lists, I just want to eat the HD more than I do the Tillamook.

                                                                                            It looks to me like you get more for your money with HD. I am not rich and don't look for ways to spend more money. I am happy with a slightly smaller serving of a nicer ice cream than a larger one of a lesser ice cream.

                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                              The high sugar content is another reason to pass up HD. The additives in Tillamook are typical of premium brands of commercial ice cream. There are only a few with the minimalist approach of HD.

                                                                                              Yes, Tillamook is a regional brand. It is made in Oregon and I suspect is found mostly on the West Coast. Dreyer's is the main brand in that range, and it has much wider distribution (being a Nestle product).

                                                                                              Tillamook does have fewer calories because of incorporated air. Its density is comparable to other premium ice creams, although I don't have a scale to make precise comparisons. It just has less sugar. That's a good thing.

                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                There is less sugar because there is less of everything because there is less ice cream and more air.

                                                                                                "The additives in Tillamook are typical of premium brands of commercial ice cream. "

                                                                                                ????? Do you work for them??????

                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                  I've replied to this impertinent question a couple of times before, and see no need to do so again.

                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                    I'm impertinent. Cool.

                                                                                                    But seriously, people have asked you before if you work for Tillamook?

                                                                                                    Sounds like you enjoy it a lot - that's a good thing.

                                                                                            2. re: GH1618

                                                                                              Tillamook 1/2 serving is 70g by weight. HD is 106g by weight. Those are pretty representative of the difference in ovverrun (added air) between non-premium and premium ice cream. Breyers, for example, is 66g per 1/2 cup serving.

                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                Even at 106 grams / serving, I still find Haagen Daz to have a bit too much overrun.

                                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                  I don't know your source, but 65 to 70 grams per half-cup serving seems to be typical of premium commercial ice creams, from what I have been able to find.

                                                                                                  Häagen-Dazs does seem to be significantly denser, which accounts for about 45% of the cost differential. But locally, the price premium is about 140%. A rich treat for the rich.

                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                    I don't class Breyers or Turkey Hill as premium (even if they claim premium status), and they run in that 65-70g ps range. They are ordinary supermarket branded ice creams.

                                                                                                    There is a cost premium to making ice cream without gums or corn syrup: producing smooth ice cream with low crystallization is more difficult.

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      I'm not familiar with Turkey Hill. Tillamook and Lovin' Scoopful are two regional brands found in my area which can be considered "premium" along with the big brand, Dreyer's. High-density brands are called "super-premium." "Premium" distinguishes the quality brands from the stuff our mothers bought in the 1960s, which was only about 55 grams per half-cup.

                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                        Oh, I don't recognize much of a distinction between "premium" and "non-premium"; they are both non-premium in my book. I refer to super-premiums merely as premium.

                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                          Choosing your own terminology is not conducive to effective communication.

                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                            I am hardly the only person who describes ice cream categories as I have done. Anyway, now I've made clear how I am using the terms, so we all understand each other now, right?

                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                              Now, now. He did say "in my book."

                                                                                                              And did you mean choosing his own *definition* (instead of "terminology")? =)

                                                                                                              1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                Here is a very interesting chart which points out the most common usage of the terms. It notes they are not legal definitions.


                                                                                                                The terms are based on a varoiety of factors, including fat content, overrun, solids content, and even packaging.

                                                                                                                1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                                  From a 1981 NY Times article on luxury ice creams (also referred to as premium ice creams) - btw, $1.75-$2 in 1981 dollars is about $4.50-$5.25 in today's dollars (even with the loss of 1/8 of a pint, it's interesting that the functional price of HD in my supermarket ($3) has not kept up with inflation:

                                                                                                                  "The qualities that create a premium ice cream are open to debate, but in general, the new products are characterized by a small package, a low overrun (the amount of air whipped into the ice cream), a high proportion of quality ingredients, a high butterfat content -and a steep price, ranging from around $1.65 to $2 a pint.

                                                                                                                  Haagen-Dazs, Frusen Gladje and Alpen Zauber all contain 15 to 16 percent butterfat and 20 percent overrun and weigh roughly 16 ounces - compared with government standards of at least 10 percent butterfat, no more than 100 percent overrun (meaning a 50 percent air content) and weight of two and a quarter pounds per half gallon, meaning 9 ounces to a pint.

                                                                                                                  All three also emphasize high-quality, natural ingredients. For example, Alpen Zauber uses pecans from Georgia, rum from Jamaica, chocolate and cocoa from Ghana and vanilla beans from Madagascar.

                                                                                                                  Bassetts offers a fraction more butterfat than the others but makes no claims as an all-natural product and has lots more overrun - 75 percent. One pint weighs roughly 13 ounces.

                                                                                                                  The spur to all this new activity is Haagen-Dazs, the luxury market leader that is now distributed in all but three states via grocery stores, restaurants and the recently-started franchises known as dipping stores.

                                                                                                                  ''Everyone is following Haagen-Dazs,'' admits Abe Kroll, president of the Gold Star Ice Cream Company, which Introduced Alpen Zauber last May. Mr. Kroll is a childhood friend of Reuben Mattus, the president of Woodbridge Sweets Inc. who created Haagen-Dazs.

                                                                                                                  Haagen-Dazs (the name is meaningless in both Danish and English) was introduced in the early 1960's. Unable to compete with conglomerates producing inexpensive supermarket brands, Mr. Mattus decided to specialize with an unusually dense product and a name that would sell in a New York market that, he figured, equates anything foreign with everything good. He offered it in only three flavors - chocolate, vanilla and coffee.

                                                                                                                  ''When I came out with Haagen-Dazs, the quality of ice cream had deteriorated to the point that it was just sweet and cold,'' recalls Mr. Mattus, a 68-year-old Polish immigrant who peddled his mother's Italian-style ices by horse and wagon to candy stores in the Bronx as a boy. ''Ice cream had become cheaper and cheaper, so I just went the opposite way.''

                                                                                                                  Last year the company, which went national a decade ago, produced about 40 million pints, recording an estimated $1.5 million in profits on revenues of more than $30 million."

                                                                                                        2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                          If Breyers was ever "premium," they gave it up when they started adding goo (tara gum, IIRC) to their recipe, sometime in 2008, IIRC.

                                                                                                        3. re: GH1618

                                                                                                          HD goes on sale for me in nyc- aka the most expensive place ever for groceries- with some frequency. Usually 2 pints for $7, which isn't cheap but i'm assuming there are better sales outside of manhattan too.

                                                                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                            HD is 3 for $10 today at the Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh.

                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                              The cheapest sale price in Manhattan that I've seen is $3.99 (same for Ben & Jerry's). I think both are a lot cheaper on sale in Staten Island. :`(

                                                                                                              1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                'I think both are a lot cheaper on sale in Staten Island. :`("
                                                                                                                And Queens,where we live. Price is not really the object here in any case, although all things being equal of course we'd prefer to pay less. But my question is about taste. This is a dessert, not cancer medicine. It's fun but obviously we could live without it.

                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                  Which is why I only buy it when it's on sale. In my case, price IS the object to some extent. I refuse to pay >$4 for a pint (including a 14 oz. one) of something I can live without and I don't have room in my freezer for the larger HD containers which are a better buy. A shame because vanilla ice cream is nice to have on hand and HD really is my favorite among commercial brands.

                                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                        "I don't think HD costs any more to make."

                                                                                                        I think you are correct, but the shipping costs from Denmark are really high.

                                                                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                            Yeah, he's kidding. Not everyone gets John's subtle wit. But for anyone who doesn't know, HD is not and has never been produced anywhere other than the US. Here's a condensed version of its history from Wikipedia, which in this case gets it right:

                                                                                                            --"Häagen-Dazs is an ice cream brand, established by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961.

                                                                                                            --"The name, however, is not Danish, nor does it have any meaning in any language or etymology before its creation.

                                                                                                            --"Mattus … sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original... a move known in the marketing industry as foreign branding.

                                                                                                            --"Häagen-Dazs was bought by Pillsbury in 1983. General Mills bought Pillsbury in 2001. However, in the United States and Canada, Häagen-Dazs products are produced by Nestlé subsidiary Dreyer's, which acquired the rights as part of the General Mills-Pillsbury deal. The brand name is still owned by General Mills but is licensed to Nestlé in the US and Canada."

                                                                                                            The links still work so you could go to the original articles to read more.

                                                                                                            Interesting that HD is produced by Dreyer's, which is revealed if you go to their website.

                                                                                                            In our area we have a couple of good alternatives. In the Premium category we have a competitor to Tillamook, made in the same area, called Umpqua, which is pretty good at the same price point and 96g per 1/2c.

                                                                                                            And in the Super category we have a very local place with spectacular stuff called Snoqualmie which has both a Danish Vanilla bean and a Vanilla Custard (French Vanilla Style) as well as a Vanilla Gelato and a huge variety of other incredible flavors which all weigh in at about 113g per half cup. They have some flavors in single-serve cups, which come in 4.69oz servings.

                                                                                                            I happen to like both HD and Tillamook a lot. But HD undoubtedly costs hugely more than Tillamook because of its very low overrun. Its lack of most additives and superpremium reputation and positioning also clearly justify the price difference for its customers. I generally buy it when it's on sale but I go for the Snoqualmie for myself and the Umpqua for people who just sort of like ice cream but aren't too picky.

                                                                                                            1. re: acgold7

                                                                                                              Here (Oakland), after adjusting for the difference in density, HD is still twice as expensive as common "premium" ice creams. I don't believe this can be explained by the manufacturing process. Perhaps the fact that they have a small market share has something to do with it, since they would not have the same economies of scale in distribution.

                                                                                                              The "super premiums" target the carriage trade, so can charge what the market will bear (which is a lot in that sement). It's an example of the old advice (I forget whose) that you should market to the wealthy, because that's where the money is.

                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                Not sure why there's been a focus on price in this thread.

                                                                                                                OP asked for "best" vanilla ice cream, not "best" for the price vanilla ice cream.

                                                                                                                Even if Haagen Daz is more expensive than some other brand, who cares as long as the person thinks it tastes better, then that's all that matters for *this* particular discussion.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                    Thank you, you are correct. He really is more concerned about the taste.

                                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                    "Adjusting for the difference in density" would seem to count for a lot. HD has very few ingredients compared to other brands (including B&J, also a sale purchase), low overrun, and an entirely different mouthfeel. I agree that it's expensive, which is why I wait until it's on sale to buy it. I'm not so hooked on ice cream that I'm willing to pay a lot for a pint but by the same token, I'm not so hooked that I'm willing to settle for commercial quality. What can I say? I'm spoiled. We had (and still have) Alinosi ice cream in Detroit, then HD and its similarly diacritic-adorned imitator Frusen Glädjé appeared shortly after I moved to NYC. Then gelato took off. My taste buds never stood a chance.

                                                                                                                    May I ask what a "sement" is?

                                                                                                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                      I think he meant "segment."

                                                                                                                      And yes, but that density depends on three factors: overrun (air), solids, and milkfat. Also, the manufacturing process is in fact quite different to make a smooth and creamy ice cream without stabilizers and emulsifiers. It is in fact much costlier and requires different equipment.

                                                                                                                      Is there a direct one-to-one correlation between cost and price? Of course not, but anyone who thinks the extra price differential for HD is unjustified pure profit is mistaken from a manufacturing cost basis. Of course, one may think it's not worth it to one's personal taste.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MacGuffin

                                                                                                                        That's a typo. It should be "segment."

                                                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        >>>Perhaps the fact that they have a small market share has something to do with it, since they would not have the same economies of scale in distribution.<<<

                                                                                                                        HD does in fact have the same economies of distribution, as they are made by Dreyer's and distributed by the parent company, Nestle, on the same trucks.

                                                                                                                        >>>HD is still twice as expensive as common "premium" ice creams. I don't believe this can be explained by the manufacturing process. <<<

                                                                                                                        In fact, much of it can, in terms of both ingredients and process as well as equipment, as anyone with experience making ice cream will tell you. This is true for all superpremiums vs. "premiums." This is why you can buy the short/near half-gallon (1.75 qt) supermarket "premiums" for the price of a pint of a superpremium.

                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                  One more thing, the Tillamook says, "with natural flavors" on the label. The NAME says "Madagascar Vanilla Ice Cream". The ingredients list says, "vanilla" without reference to "natural" or "extract" or "flavor".

                                                                                                                  Methinks they might be getting away with something.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                    The vanilla flavor comes from vanilla beans. Are you accusing Tillamook of fraud? On what basis?

                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                      The front label says, "with natural flavors".

                                                                                                                      I've emailed them for clarification.

                                                                                                                      If there were vanilla beans or vanilla extract in the ice cream, it would say so in the ingredients - that's something to brag about, not hide.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                        Indeed. It's like advertising "steakhouse quality" beef without specifically saying "premium" or "choice"; you should read "select" when they don't brag about one of those two grades. It's not fraud in terms of applicable regulations, but an informed consumer is best served by being aware of what is NOT said on the label as much as what is said, as it were.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                          "Natural flavors" is ambiguous at best. I would say no actual vanilla beans were harmed in the making of the tillamook....

                                                                                                                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                            All Tillamook vanilla products are made with Madagascar vanilla. It's vanilla. Vanilla flavor comes from vanilla beans, as required by FDA regulations. Imitation vanilla flavor must be so labeled. There is nothing at all ambiguous about the way these products are labeled. Those who think there is must be getting their information from unreliable sources rather than the federal regulations.

                                                                                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                              Regarding the term "natural vanilla flavor", an excerpt from The Washington Post:

                                                                                                                              "An interesting case is the vanilla bean, most of whose natural flavor comes from its content of about 2 percent vanillin, known to chemists by its nickname, 4-hydroxy-3- methoxy benzaldehyde. If these natural flavors are extracted into alcohol, the product may legally be labeled Pure Vanilla Extract, that is, as a "natural" flavoring. But if the product contains synthetic vanillin, which can be made by any of several processes, it must be labeled Imitation Vanilla Flavoring.

                                                                                                                              But get this: If the synthetic vanillin was made not by combining chemicals in a laboratory but by allowing bacteria to ferment ferulic acid, a chemical obtained from corn or rice, it may be labeled Natural Vanilla Flavor because fermentation is a "natural" process. The vanillin obtained by both methods, however, is absolutely identical. "

                                                                                                                              So, legally, "natural vanilla" can come from corn and rice. Incidentally, it can also come from beaver anuses in the form of castoreum.

                                                                                                                              That's what we're talking about here.

                                                                                                                              The labeling on the Tillamook is unclear; hopefully they will respond to my email and clear things up.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                              If you get migraines, you are warned not to eat things with "natural flavor" in them.

                                                                                                                      2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                        They only sell Tillamook at one store in Brooklyn, so unless they start selling it at more locations in NYC it's not going to be a bargain for me on a regular basis to travel out there to get it. But next time I have some reason to be in Williamsburg I will keep an eye out for it.

                                                                                                                      3. We only buy Blue Bell vanilla bean.

                                                                                                                        1. I'm not sure if it's available in NY but I' highly reccomend Strauss vanilla ice cream. No gum, stabilizers or chemicals and very simple and creamy with some ground vanilla beans for extra contrast.

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: josh L

                                                                                                                            Just looked at their website - it looks comparable to HD, but organic and with cane sugar and vanilla bean.

                                                                                                                            Looks yummy! Is it expensive?

                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                              Yes.... But its also really amazing stuff. Kinda hard to find.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                Not that expensive, considering the superior ingredients. A pint sells for around five bucks.

                                                                                                                              2. re: josh L

                                                                                                                                According to their website it is not available within 50 miles of my zipcode, so we can't get this . But thanks, if they start selling it in NYC I'll look for it.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                  Ronnybrook is probably the easiest local dairy ice cream to find, i'm fairly certain its at whole foods- and for sure at their own store in chelsea market

                                                                                                                              3. Here's a link to an informative article on Häagen-Dazs:


                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. My favorite packaged vanilla is Julie's. No gums or corn syrup. They use organic cane sugar and their vanilla has a true vanilla and pure cream flavor. They sell it at Whole Foods, probably at many other places too in NYC.

                                                                                                                                  Tillamook Vanilla and French Vanilla are good too, but you can taste the corn syrup.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: ninrn

                                                                                                                                    It may be all organic but both the flavor and texture are off to me. Kinda chalky and not very vanilla-y.

                                                                                                                                  2. As someone else mentioned, Breyer's used to be delicious and took an unfortunate downhill turn. So if you like that flavor, you might like my new favourite: McConnell's.

                                                                                                                                    McConnell's is on the pricey side and can be found locally @ Ralph's or mail ordered:

                                                                                                                                    EDIT: Their ingredients for vanilla bean: Cream, Milk, Sugar, Non-Fat Milk Solids, Organic Egg Yolks, R.R. Lochhead® Vanilla, R.R. Lochhead® Vanilla Beans.

                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                        McConnell's is good stuff, though, like Straus, probably not widely (if at all) available outside California.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                          They ship! But that would probably put it beyond the OP's price point. And they sell in stores in the Chicago area, with plans for world domination!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                            While it looks intriguing, I'm not going to mail order ice cream. But I will keep an eye out for it if it comes to NYC.

                                                                                                                                      2. I was reading this thread a few days ago and paid attention to the talk about Blue Bell Homemade(?) vanilla IC. I picked up a carton yesterday and read the ingredients and put it back on the shelf. I guess I am just going to be making my own.

                                                                                                                                        1. Love Tillamook old fashioned vanilla (yes the cheese people) and it's the best-tasting vanilla ice cream IMHO. So rich and creamy and it reminds me of the vanilla of my youth growing up in SoCal.

                                                                                                                                          1. I know this is late, but...I was in Fairway this afternoon and I see they carry Graeter's ice cream. Now that brand is one I've only heard of but it's raved about. I'd never considered it because it's out of Indianapolis and I wouldn't order ice cream either. So there you go, another vanilla ice cream in New York at your local Fairway! I'd love to hear from anyone who's tried it. Cheers, Pat