Words matter. One of my favorite things about visiting the farm is our proximity to The Meadows, because this homegrown chain is famous for its frozen custard.
Frozen custard is hard to come by in upstate New York. Although I noticed on the Tour de Italian Deli 2.0 that Marcella’s in Schenectady had it. However, when I tried to call it frozen custard, I was rebuffed. “If it were frozen, it wouldn’t be custard.” I suspect the fellow behind the counter was trying to parse the difference between hard frozen and partially frozen.
But one thing was clear, it wasn’t soft serve. And in my book soft serve isn’t ice cream. Just yesterday my kids tried to call The Meadows’ frozen custard “soft serve” and I dadsplained the difference between the two. one. more. time.
So this week wasn’t intended to be the beat-up-on-Unilever week. But when I was researching Monday’s story, I ran across something small on the internet that made my blood boil.
I know. I know. Someone’s wrong on the Internet. But this is different. Mostly because it reinforces the theme that Unilever has turned misleading its consumers into an art form. Or maybe it’s just that the brand managers at the company are so good, they can build up brands, and leverage all that stored consumer awareness and brand equity into profits for many years after abandoning the core values of the brand.
Yesterday we talked about “Bring out the Hellmann’s and bring out the best.” At least now you know that soybean oil is not the best.
Today’s it’s “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” And the only correct answer is, nothing.
Once upon a time, the Klondike bar was a thing of majesty. It was a big, substantial chunk of vanilla ice cream, dipped in a thick layer of chocolate. This was the stuff of legends. One look at the Klondike bars of today, and you know in your heart of hearts that they just aren’t the same.
But maybe you’ll tell yourself one or two little white lies. Oh, I like the new smaller size, that just means fewer calories. Perhaps the bars haven’t gotten smaller, it’s likely just that I’ve gotten bigger.
And since they are a treat, you will probably avoid reading the ingredients or any of the fine print on the packaging. But that’s where the tragedy is hiding in plain sight. It’s just that people either choose to ignore it, or just don’t care.
Do you know what a Klondike bar is these days?
The shell isn’t chocolate. It’s milk chocolate flavored coating.
The vanilla ice cream inside isn’t that either. It’s artificially flavored vanilla light ice cream.
Light ice cream is fundamentally a different thing than ice cream. In fact, if your product contains “light ice cream” the packaging cannot legally use the words “ice cream” without the “light” modifier. That’s because the two have different standards of identity. One isn’t simply a reduced fat version of the other.
Maybe it will be more clear when I tell you what the Klondike artificially flavored vanilla light ice cream is made of:
Nonfat milk, sugar, corn syrup, milk fat, whey, maltodextrin, propylene glycol monoesters, cellulose gel, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, natural and artificial flavor, caramel color, annatto, vitamin A palmitate.
Nonfat milk? That’s not ice cream. The stuff requires all of those gums and thickeners to keep it resembling ice cream. But it’s a piss poor excuse for actual ice cream.
Is it cold? Sure.
Is it sweet? You bet.
Is it creamy? Kinda.
So I can see how it might scratch the itch of some child looking for any kind of frozen treat. But adults should know better. Mostly because as you get older, desserts become more and more about opportunity costs.
It’s not that eating a Klondike bar will kill you. It won’t. It’s that you gave up something to eat that crappy excuse for a once-great ice cream bar. That may have been a cocktail, or a bite more of dinner, or some other more delicious dessert. Whatever the case, I guarantee the calories would have been better spent elsewhere.
Like on a few more bites of glorious summer tomatoes, drizzled with a gorgeous olive oil. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.