Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ben & Jerry's Free Scoop Day: Okay, I sort of get it now

It's no secret that I have a sweet tooth strong enough to mop the floor with Goliath. It's a rare day that I don't have at least a piece of chocolate after both lunch and dinner, and more often than not, I'm noshing on some sort of frozen product while watching Gossip Girl, 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, or another show that undermines my intelligence.

Given my affinity for wreaking havoc on my insulin levels, it would seemingly follow that I also adore Ben & Jerry's-- the premiere premium ice cream on the market. It is a rare person who doesn't go all glassy-eyed and weak in the knees at the mere mention of Cherry's Garcia, Chunky Monkey or the classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Decadent full-fat ice cream, chock full of big chunks of occasionally bizarre, yet mostly delightful ingredients? What's not to love?

A lot.

That's right, friends. I, Diana Takes a Bite, the queen of sugar, the chocolate princess, the cupcake glutton, am not a fan of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

I won't try to pretend like I've never waded my spoon through an entire pint of Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, Chubby Hubby or Half Baked over the course of a single night. I've done it. And during college, I was just as excited as my friends when Free Scoop Day rolled around every April. But just because I've gone the distance with and for Ben & Jerry's, doesn't mean that my heart goes all a flutter when I scoop up a creamy bite.

My problem with Ben & Jerry's is two-fold. First, it is too rich and decadent. No matter how little I eat, I am always left with a stomach full of guilt and pain. Just a half cup can have up to 30 grams of fat --over 6 times the amount in one serving of my favorite Dreyer's Slow-Churned flavors. Why would I want to limit myself to a tiny portion of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie, when I can have a double serving of Dreyer's Mint Karaoke Cookie and still come out ahead?

Second, the chunks of mix-ins are too big and incongruent with the inherent nature of the product. Premium ice cream is an indulgence. Something to be savored, relished and coddled on the tongue. The large pieces of cookie dough, chocolate chunks and assorted other ingredients require the ingester to take a hefty bite of the product in order for the mix-in to be in proper proportion to the ice cream base. This does not work for me. I'm a girl, my mama raised me right, and I like to take small bites -- especially when I'm eating something that I want to last for more than 30 seconds. As such, I am faced with a dilemma when consuming Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Do I eat the whole chunk sans enough ice cream for ultimate satisfaction? Do I choke down a large bite? Or do I go for the mannerless option -- chomping the piece into smaller bits and leaving some on the spoon for the next moderate spoonful of ice cream?

It's a tough call. And not one I want to have to make when I'm supposed to be enjoying a special treat. As a result, I have only had Ben & Jerry's one time in the four years since graduating college, and up until yesterday, felt no inclination to make it even an occasional perpetrator in my sugar line-up. I didn't see the point.

But, I maybe, sort of, kind of see it now.

I don't know if it was the 95 degree temperature, the lure of something free in a world that seems intent on eradicating every last cent in my bank account, or a recent dearth of material to write about, but yesterday I decided that I needed a free scoop of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. At approximately 1:30 pm, I told my boss I was running out "for a few minutes," and made a mad dash to the Ben & Jerry's scoop shop on Main Street in Santa Monica. As I walked down the street toward the ice cream parlour, I felt absurdly giddy, nearly breaking into a full-on skip as I tried to beat two girls on the sidewalk next to me who were also aiming for the shop.

The line was surprisingly short and didn't allot me nearly enough time to make my scoop decision. While I was busy debating the virtues of Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road vs. Seven Layer Bar in my head, I had to let three customers go ahead of me (yes, even those two girls I beat to the line). I finally decided on a scoop of the Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road, and moments later I was sitting down to Elton John's special edition flavor -- a delectable combination of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brittle, and white chocolate chunks.

I let it melt down a bit before beginning (hard ice cream displeases my palate immensely), and once it had reached the optimal state of soupiness, I dove in.

"Oh." I thought, as the rich chocolate oozed over my tongue.

"Oh." I thought, as I nibbled through a chunk of peanut butter cookie dough.

"Oh." I thought, as the crunch from the butter brittle provided a burst of contrast against the tender dough.

"Oh! Oh!" I thought, as a prodigious rectangle of white chocolate materialized on my spoon.

It was great. It was grand! It was everything Ben & Jerry's is for most individuals who are not me!

Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road -- this may be the flavor that is actually worth my mannerless mix-in consumption, and the stomachache I felt later in the day.


The Blonde Duck said...

I've never been a Ben and Jerry's a-holic b/c they never had them where I was--it was always a local shop or TCBY or marble slab. But Marble Slab MOVED (the bastards) and took my nutter butter ice cream with them. I'm on a full on rage hunt to find it. The BJ site says they have pb cookie dough--I MUST find it!

Jenn said...

I've more I was always a Baskin Robbins girl. Once in a while I may get a B & J, but it wasn't always my favorite.

Pearl said...

i've never been a b&j girl, either, because i grew up eating penguin fro yo. and my youngest brother prefers to eat plain vanilla ice cream, so we don't look at ben and jerry's very much.

Sara said...

I like Ben & Jerrys, but never buy it because of the fat content. My local grocery store sells private label ice cream made in the area that's AMAZING, so it's pretty much all I buy these days.

Hari said...

I am not a big fan on B&J for similar reasons. Also most of their flavours are a little too eclectic for my taste. Btw I got the vanilla heath bar crunch, the only flavour I really like from B&J.

Erica said...

Lost is not new tonight :( Its an "expanded" episode.

Esi said...

Wow, everything you don't like about B&J's is exactly what I love about them...especially the BIG chunks! Glad you enjoyed your scoop though.

The Duo Dishes said...

Ben & Jerry make good ice cream! Free cone day was a holiday when we were in college. The lines were long alllll day, but it was worth it. Sometimes for a second visit.

Diana said...

Miranda - I saw the peanut butter cookie dough flavor at the scoop shop I went to yesterday - I'm sure you can find it somewhere near you! I used to go to Marble Slab all the time in college. So much better than Coldstone's! I miss it. :(

Jenn - I was a Baskin Robbins girl too! Love the mint chip and quarterback crunch flavors!

Pearl - Sometimes nothing can beat a cup of plain vanilla ice cream. So simple and pure! :)

Sara - Do you have Tillamook ice cream up there? I've heard it's amazing! Though probably also has a high fat content.

Hari - Vanilla heath bar crunch sounds great! My dad used to make chocolate chip ice cream with heath bar in it when we were younger. So good!

Erica - Oh no! I'm so disappointed. :(

Esi - Hah! I think I'm coming around to the chunks after yesterday's amazing scoop!

Chrystal & Amir - I totally contemplated going back for another round after work!

Ashley said...

Maybe now you and Ali will understand why I generally don't crave ANY ice cream!

Kirby! said...

I'm with you on Ben & Jerry's... maybe Elton's new flavor is tasty, but I'm going to have to pass otherwise. I feel like once you've had premium ice cream, it's hard to go back to the unsatisfying pints of B&J, where something's just not quite right.... But free ice cream is free ice cream!

Reeni♥ said...

I never got into Ben & Jerry's! They don't have the shops here and I don't buy ice cream that often. When I do it's usually Breyers. That's a bummer-the tummy ache!

melissa said...

It might be "weird" for you not to like Ben & Jerry's, but I get looked at like a two-headed alien when I tell people I don't like ice cream at all!

It's only 90% true. I like homemade ice cream. But anything from a freezer case, premium or not, is no good to me. Nuh uh. I'm so picky about sweets!

Glad you enjoyed your free goodness though. Stomach pains and all.

Heather said...

uhhh. how did i not know about free scoop day? i love ice cream. custard is my favorite, though. there's this milwaukee custard place near my house called the dairy godmother. it is amaaaaazing!

Diana said...

Ashley - I love you, but I don't think I will ever understand! ;)

Kirby - I totally agree - something is just not right about B&J's!

Reeni - I like Breyer's too -- all natural ingredients! Those were good ads - that message totally stuck with me.

Melissa - There really is nothing like homemade ice cream. I can still taste the mint chip my dad used to make for us when we were kids.

Heather - The Dairy Godmother? Sounds incredible!

H. C. said...

You definitely capture my thoughts on B&J ice creams, generally too chunky and I have a hard time just letting the ice cream melt while the assorted chunks float around in my mouth.

I will make on exception, though, for the New York Super Fudge Chunk -- all sorts of chocolatey-nutty goodness.

But generally I'm more of a Haagen-Daz or Vosges ice cream fan!

Hayley said...

When the ice cream craving hits me, I never go with Ben and Jerry's either. Not saying that I wouldn't, but I prefer other brands as well.