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Troll Role Goal

October 25, 2012

People always say to me, “It’s amazing how easily you let things go.”

Yeah, that’s not even remotely true. Those words have never been uttered in reference to me and my behavior. I’ll readily admit that it’s a character flaw. Luckily, I’m generally slow to anger and I’m really difficult to offend. But I’m also quick to forgive when I see a turnaround in behavior.

One of the things that galls me is when something strays from its own stated core beliefs. You know, like restaurants that are dedicated to using only the best, freshest ingredients, yet will serve farmed Atlantic salmon and caprese salad in the dead of winter. Or the implicit promise of a $3 cupcake that it was fresh baked that morning, only to find that it has sat around for days.

Well, at the end of last month I mentioned that the once All Natural Breyer’s has transitioned so far away from being “all-natural” that many flavors are no longer even actually ice cream. Now they are called, “frozen dairy dessert.” You probably won’t be shocked to hear that I haven’t let this go.

So what have I been doing about it?

Well first I did some investigating. Because it’s not so easy to tell how many products have been affected by this transition away from “ice cream” to “frozen dairy dessert”. Some have suggested that this is a math problem based on products that have a lot of “inclusions.” That’s the trade term for solids in the ice cream, like candy, nuts and swirls.

But this kind of thing is not what’s going on at Breyer’s, because the following “original” ice cream flavors have been quietly replaced with frozen dairy dessert: Dulce de Leche, Vanilla Fudge Twirl, Caramel Praline Crunch, Rocky Road, Butter Almond, Cookies and Cream, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peach, Cherry Vanilla, Black Raspberry Chocolate, and Extra Creamy Chocolate.

This isn’t intended to be a complete list, because I know there are more. But this is what was in my local store’s freezer case, and it made up the majority of Breyer’s “original” flavors on the shelf.

The marketing surrounding this stuff kills me.

And I’m starting to think that the problem isn’t just on Breyer’s side. The grocers who stock the Breyer’s frozen dairy dessert with the rest of the ice creams are also culpable. This product, which isn’t ice cream, should really be kept in a separate part of the freezer that’s reserved for lower quality frozen confections. But that tactic for calling out Breyer’s shenanigans will be reserved for later.

What am I doing about it today? I’m hitting them where it hurts. On Facebook. And I’m doing it consistently. Some people might call it trolling, but that’s such a nasty, weighted word.

For me it’s a creative writing drill as much as anything else.

Here’s how it works. A couple times a week, Breyer’s will post some kind of image on their facebook page and ask their fans for some kind of response. So I play along, but tailor my message of dismay to the picture or promotion of the day. Sometimes it’s challenging, but other times they make it super easy. Here’s what I mean.

On October 10, Breyer’s posted a three panel cartoon strip of a zombie rising from the grave, spoon in hand to eat a bowl of Breyer’s. Above the strip they ran the message, “‘Share’ this cartoon if you’d come back from the dead for your favorite Breyers scoop!” Notice how they don’t even use the words “ice cream”. Clever bastards.

So here is what I wrote in response:

Imagine how pissed you would be to come back from the dead for a scoop of Breyers Ice Cream only to find it’s no longer made. Instead it’s been replaced by something called “frozen dairy dessert”! Then the zombies might turn on the Unilever execs to eat their brains instead.

The zombies would have to leave hungry and disappointed, twice!

They post the picture of a cut out circle that can be used to help guard your Breyers that reads, “Go ahead eat it, I dare you!” To which I respond, “That just about sums up the difference between what you used to make 20 years ago and what you produce today.”

They write on their Facebook page, “Nothing gives us the chills worse than missing ice cream! ‘Share’ your curiously disappearing ice cream stories in the comments.” To which I publicly posit, “Now you’re just screwing with us right? The company that took away some of our favorite ice cream and replaced it with ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert’ is now asking us to share our ‘disappearing ice cream stories’? I’m starting to wonder if this page is secretly run by one of Breyer’s competitors.”

You get the idea. This is a war of attrition.

So I invite you to check out all the recent posts on Facebook and even join in on the fun. I’ve been watching the resistance movement grow over time. More and more people are waking up to the sneaky machinations of Unilever as it tries to make this brand more profitable for the company. And I am kind of curious to see where it goes from here.

Yes. I could be doing better things with my time. But this really doesn’t take very much of it. Plus it’s fun. And if social media can get a big multinational conglomerate to change its product formulations, there is no limit to the social changes Facebook can bring to bear.

Maybe we can even find a way to get GMOs labeled. Dare to dream.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Stevo permalink
    October 25, 2012 10:30 am

    I couldn’t care less about Bryer’s, I gave up on it years ago. But if they start messing with my Häagen-Dazs, there will be trouble.

    I’ve recently been buying Blue Bunny ‘Premium’ ‘All Natural Vanilla’ since Hannaford started carrying it. It is delicious and much cheaper than Häagen-Dazs. Check it out.

    • Stevo permalink
      October 25, 2012 10:36 am

      By the way, here are the ingredients for Blue Bunny Vanilla mentioned above:

      Milk, Cream, Sugar, Skim Milk, Egg Yolks, Natural Vanilla Extract, and Vanilla Beans.

      • -R. permalink
        October 25, 2012 11:46 am

        The “All Natural” nomenclature is telling here. Blue Bunny makes vast amounts of ice cream flavors, but only ONE ice cream is labelled as “All Natural”, and that’s the vanilla you reference above; the other “All Natural” products are entirely frozen yogurt. Blue Bunny also makes a so-called premium vanilla which is no better off than the bespoke Bryer’s products. Really Blue Bunny? You can’t even conjure up an “All Natural” chocolate or strawberry ice cream? It seems so simple.

  2. October 25, 2012 10:45 am

    “The zombies would have to leave hungry and disappointed, twice!” Hahaha!

  3. Angelos permalink
    October 25, 2012 10:51 am

    I was in Price Chopper the other day, marveling at how awful the selections were. Nothing but corn syrup and other unpronouncables.

    Next spring, I’m buying an ice cream machine.

    • October 27, 2012 11:50 am

      I wish I had registered for an ice cream machine instead of a deep fryer or a fondue pot, neither of which I ever use …

  4. October 25, 2012 10:54 am

    But this is really true of every processed food. People are price sensitive, so to maintain margin, the package gets smaller and real ingredients are replaced with filler.

  5. October 25, 2012 2:32 pm

    You are my hero. Seriously. Plus, LOL disappointed zombies!

  6. October 25, 2012 4:29 pm

    I eat ice cream maybe once every month or two. Which is probably the right amount of ice cream for a human to be eating (maybe less). The problem is that people have accepted ice cream as sort of a daily food, as opposed to the absolute luxury it should be.

    The populous at large is culpable in this crappy ice cream situation because it demands cheap ice cream. I think the price point for ice cream should be about 10 dollars a pint and it should always be made of the finest ingredients. Ice cream should be classified and considered a luxury along the lines of fine cheese or wine and eaten sparingly.

    • Mr. Sunshine permalink
      October 25, 2012 5:41 pm

      Mr. Dave is absolutely correct.

  7. October 25, 2012 5:10 pm

    I like the idea of buying an ice cream maker (a small one).

  8. Michelle permalink
    October 31, 2012 1:58 pm

    I love what you are doing here, and will admit that for a time, I did the exact same thing to Target, re:offshoring customer service and IT jobs. They present no end of opportunities to get your message across with their inane questions. Bravo! Troll on!

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