Betrayed by Breyers


I am extremely conservative in my food tastes, tending to favor a few favorite things and eating them over and over again, rather than experimenting with new items. I am not particularly fond of sweet foods but once in a while I get the desire for them and on those occasions my selection has always been for Breyers cherry vanilla ice cream and Cadbury’s chocolate.

I liked this particular brand and flavor of ice cream because it contained all natural ingredients and the taste was great. But recently I bought what I thought was a half-gallon container, picking it out of the store freezer without paying much attention. But at home, I found that instead of the creamy flavor I was used to, it had a chalky texture and an unpleasant aftertaste. I first thought I had stumbled upon a bad batch but on closer examination of the container, I discovered three things. One is that although it superficially looked the same, the words ‘All Natural’, once proudly displayed, had disappeared. Another was that the ingredients now contained a list of preservatives and artificial flavorings, so much so that it was no longer entitled to call itself ‘ice cream’ and those words had now been replaced by the ambiguous ‘Frozen Dairy Dessert’. I also noted that the size had been reduced from half-gallon (2QT) to 1.5 QT.

Curious as to what had happened, the next time I was in the supermarket I looked at more flavors of Breyers and found similar results. I looked it up on the web and found an informative Wikipedia article that explained that all these changes were part of cost-cutting moves by the parent company Unilever.

I am no marketing genius but I cannot see how this can be considered a good move. Breyers was not the most expensive supermarket brand of ice cream but definitely not the cheapest either. So people who bought it were not doing so based just on price but were willing to pay more for better quality. By making an inferior product but maintaining a high price, Breyers would likely lose those customers who want quality while not gaining those who are highly price sensitive.

I for one will never buy it again and I cannot imagine that I am alone in abandoning the brand.

Comments

  1. says

    Hey thanks for this. I noticed some bryers I bought tasted weird, but I thought it was because I picked out a flavor I had never eaten before.

  2. Poppy says

    I agree. Breyers has lost all of what made it taste so lovely. It has a less than satisfying texture and the flavours are not as bright and fresh as they once were.

    I buy Kawartha’s now. It is SOOOO good. My favorite flavour has blackberry swirls and white chocolate chunks. Unfortunately for you, they only distribute in Ontario Canada.

    You really need to find out if there are local artisan brands. Those are the best.

  3. Blue Duck says

    That is sad – I don’t buy ice cream often, but when I do Breyers was one brand I got since it was made with decent ingredients.

    One fun solution is get an ice cream maker. When I was a kid we made ice cream in summer time and wow, it is so much better than anything you can buy in the store.

  4. stephenyutzy says

    Breyers mint chocolate chip was my favorite supermarket ice cream. I didn’t notice the “all natural” labels, but it has been very sad to watch the once standard half gallon size become the new standard smaller size.

    Once we started making our own at home though there’s no comparison. I know all the ingredients, it tastes awesome, and it’s not half air like most supermarket brands.

  5. mcrumiller says

    Something very similar happened to me about five years ago with Chi-Chi’s Fiesta salsa. Their old salsa was MAGNIFICENT. Never have I tasted salsa that was so zesty, with the perfect blend of sweetness, spice, and who knows how many other flavors.

    They suddenly changed their recipe, and the result was a bland salsa with chunky/watery consistency. I wrote to them several times, and they finally responded that they had indeed changed their recipe, and they apologized.

    What I would give to have that salsa back…sigh.

  6. baal says

    Sucralose gives me migraines (100% of the time, doses down to half a can of Coke Zero. I’ve done the empirical self testing). It’s trying for market share so it is the cheapest sweetener out there for the food industry to use. I’ve had to re-read almost every label in the supermarket to be sure they haven’t switched.

    Breyers used to pride itself on quality and all natural ingredients; it’s sad to see the change. I used to rely on not having to read their labels.

  7. says

    Talk about a damn shame. I don’t buy ice cream very often but Breyers cookie and cream was my favourite.

    Although I must admit, when I saw the title of your post, my mind first went to the toy horse company.

  8. Skip White says

    Cost-cutting move? But Breyer’s is still way more expensive than any of the more local (and presumably smaller) ice cream makers, at least in the Harrisburg, PA area.

  9. FelixBC says

    I stopped eating Breyers after I read this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/26/dining/26cream.html?pagewanted=all

    The “double-churned” stuff uses:”a new ingredient in its frozen desserts — a protein cloned from the blood of an eel-like Arctic Ocean fish, the ocean pout.”

    “Ice-structuring proteins protect the fish, which would otherwise die in freezing temperatures,” said H. Douglas Goff, professor of dairy sciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario. “They also make ice cream creamier, by preventing ice crystals from growing.”

    Thanks, but I’ll take my ice cream with cream and fruit, only.

  10. Kate from Iowa says

    Another vote for getting your own ice cream machine. Best thing ever? Savory ice creams/herbed ice creams for those times when you just don’t want anything sweet.

    (Close second on that best thing ever: still being able to avoid dairy when your grocery store loses thier mind and stops carrying non-dairy ice creams.)

  11. vel says

    sad to hear. And hello Skip White, I’m also in harrisburg, PA.

    got a cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker for about $60. worth it to avoid the disappointment. and you can make any flavor you want. the milky thai ice tea makes a rockin’ ice cream.

  12. TGAP Dad says

    @11 Skip White:

    Remember: “cost-cutting” doesn’t mean “price-reducing.” It means “margin-padding.”

  13. David M says

    “One is that although it superficially looked the same, the words ‘All Natural’, once proudly displayed, had disappeared.”

    Well, at least Breyer’s didn’t manage to find a loophole to retain the “All Natural” designation on their packaging. I recently bought some salmon fillets at Wally World (for smoking) that are stamped “Wild Caught”. On further inspection, there is also a statement on the package, “This product comes from a FISHERY (caps mine) that has been independently certified to the MSC’s standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.” Huh?

    The fact that they were labelled as a “Product of China”, whilst somewhat unsavory, didn’t give rise to any suspicion regarding the “Wild Caught” claim. In fact, I had learned that some wild (Alaska) caught salmon is frozen and sent to China for processing (Trident does this with part of its catch) and so I figured that was probably what “Product of China” implied.

    Seems like pure deception to me. I can only hope that the “MSC’s standard” for fisheries is worth more than the claim of “Wild Caught” and the bag won’t even make decent toilet paper.

  14. smrnda says

    This also makes a good point about how ‘consumer choice’ isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be; I’m not going to say it’s a total illusion, but a room of shareholders can decide that there simply won’t be any ‘natural’ ice cream at the store and even though you don’t like it, you’re powerless to change things and the option you want isn’t available. The industry giants have such a large market share that after something like this, they know you’ll eventually give in for lack of any other choices.

    In a senses, I think corporate America is engaged in a conspiracy to make quality goods unavailable – that way, they’ll have no pressure to compete based on quality, they can increase their bottom line and focus on ‘branding.’

  15. cathyw says

    David M – a “fishery” may be a place where fish are caught in the wild, and the management and sustainability of wild fisheries is absolutely critical – the annual catch limits need to be regulated in such a way as to keep the population stable-to-growing. So there’s nothing necessarily deceptive on that label.

    On the other hand, without knowing who the MSC are and what their standards for management and sustainable fishing are, that endorsement may be meaningless…

  16. David M says

    I’m not clear as to what you are describing here. Are you saying fish that are caught in the wild and then raised in pens before harvesting?

  17. scotlyn says

    “This product comes from a FISHERY (caps mine) that has been independently certified to the MSC’s standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery.”

    David – a “fishery” is an area of ocean in which fishermen catch fish.

    MSC – Marine Stewardship Council is a body that certifies the sustainability of species found within different fisheries.

    Fish caught in a “fishery” (an area of ocean) are certainly wild, not farmed.

  18. scotlyn says

    when your grocery store loses thier mind and stops carrying non-dairy ice creams

    My own grocery store has certainly lost its mind and stopped supplying DAIRY ice cream. Every single one of its current offerings contains soy! And those that do contain some dairy have all listed “skim milk” as their main dairy ingredient – WTF!

    I make my own, using the French custard method, with cream, eggs, and fruit, with a dash, but no more, of honey – all of which I can source from within a couple of miles away.

  19. neilt says

    That’s damn shame, Breyers was pretty decent. I don’t eat a lot of ice cream, as it doesn’t mix too well with beer, but I like quality dairy products when I do consume them. Sad to see another one go away.

    One thing, don’t get too upset about the quantity change as part of the betrayal. I’m surprised that you hadn’t noticed before, if you buy it often.
    About four or five years ago, almost every brand in the supermarket switched from 1/2 gallon to 1.75 quart sizes because milk prices were increasing regularly. Most manufacturers figured they would lose less customers with a 12.5% decrease in product than with a comparable increase on the price tag, and I think they were right. In my area, the local supermarkets even put up notices on the freezer case to inform the customers and help head off complaints. While the increases haven’t been as steep recently, I’m not at all surprised to see another reduction a few years later. I’ve already seen other brands doing it again as well. They don’t really have the market flexibility to “supersize” and charge extra on top like is done with chips, soda, french fries, etc. Between dairy prices on their end, consumers watching their pennies, and healthier eating habits, their ability to be flexible in pricing is not what it is for most other products.
    Not every last price change is a customer screwing, sometimes it’s just necessary.

    As for the huge change in ingredients, to heck with ’em. Sad.

  20. Jeff Johnson says

    I’ve had the same experience. For years I ate the Breyer’s natural vanilla, with specks of vanilla bean in it. It had a fresh creamy home made vanilla taste. But some time back, I can’t really remember how long ago, perhaps a year or two, I noticed it was less dense, and less flavorful. It was lighter and fluffier, as if whipped full of air, and it didn’t melt the same way, melting into a slick fluffy artificial stuff rather than an authentic milky/creamy texture. I stopped buying it ages ago. It’s sad to see quality replaced with crap.

    I figure that over the course of the 20th century this is what happened to American beer, bread, and cheese, with real products gradually being replaced with cheaper industrialized processes and materials. The sad part is the majority of the public seems to go along with it. American fluffy white bread, Cheez Whiz, velveeta, and american cheese, and light beers are horrible.

  21. David M says

    It seems that the term “fishery” can apply to both wild caught fish and farm raised fish:

    “A fishery may involve the capture of wild fish or raising fish through fish farming or aquaculture.” (from Wikipedia)

    So that’s something interesting to know and so, perhaps, the certification applies to an area of ocean that you describe and they are indeed “wild caught” as most people would imagine that term.

    Either way, they’re in the smoker as I type being subjected to the aromatic qualities of alder wood.

  22. Jester700 says

    At least the popularity of microbrews has inspired a wide variety of types & flavors today. Maybe the same will happen with ice cream… 😉

  23. says

    Yep that is exactly how it works. I watched a documentary on salmon on PBS recently. If I recall correctly, somewhere upwards of 80-90 percent of “wild” salmon were born in a fishery, released, and caught in the wild. Fisheries are the only reason people can buy salmon all over the country anymore- the demand is way too high and the normal salmon have very little chance at spawning successfully in a natural manner.

    Also most salmon isn’t really pink anymore. The food pellets have different dyes (I believe its made by roche or bayer…) to color the salmon meat for you, the consumer.

    I quit eating salmon after that documentary.

  24. nualle says

    Wow, you just made me miss Toronto more than I have in years. Kawartha’s Death by Chocolate fueled my year there.

    Here in Minneapolis, I’ve decided that a cheap indulgence is an oxymoron, so I’ve taken to buying expensive ice creams, a pint at a time. My current enthusiasm is for Talenti’s Double Dark Chocolate gelato. (Detecting a pattern?) It’s got guar gum and soy lecithin for texture but no preservatives among its eleven listed ingredients.

  25. Brian M says

    At least in California, the “micro-cream” movement is alive and well. Not only do the Sacramento and Bay Areas have a lot of locally made ice cream (some amazingly creative stuff from places like Humphrey and Slocumbe (yep…named after the hilariously bad Are You Being Served characters!), but most of the supermarkets are carrying delicious ice creams. My favorites are Talenti Gelatos (from Dallas) and The Last Scoop.

  26. says

    @Brian

    I like Loard’s Ice Cream, which is out of Hayward I believe. They have this purple ice cream made from some kind of yam, ube … I love it.

    They also have avocado which I haven’t been brave enough to try yet.

    Best part is, they don’t use soy. Since I am allergic to soy I thought I could never eat store made ice cream again. Now if I could find more sources of chocolate…

  27. Kate from Iowa says

    Uncultured cow’s milk makes my intestines do horrible things to the rest of me, so non-dairy options (rather than just jiggered with dairy) are (were) a must for me. But being able to do it myself is better, I get to be a complete control freak about it.

    And goat cheese ice cream=pocket full of awesomeness. Try finding that in a grocery store.

  28. F says

    That’s terrible. Luckily, I live on top of a frozen custard stand, with another just down the road. For when I want something of the sort. Upside: Not terrifyingly sweet.

  29. Midnight Rambler says

    I had the same experience recently. I always remembered Breyer’s as the best brand of ice cream growing up (before the days of Ben & Jerry’s etc. in pint containers), but hadn’t had ice cream at all in a long time. I was surprised at how bad it was. I think the one that I got may have still had “all natural” on it, but it’s the texture that’s all messed up. If you look at the ingredients there are really only a few unnatural things (mainly coloring and artificial vanilla), but pouring in a ton of guar gum, carob gum, and carrageenan completely screws it up.

  30. Midnight Rambler says

    Another point that’s worth making – while most other non-premium brands do use gums and artificial flavors, Breyers has actually gone from being very good to exceptionally bad. That is, it’s not just that they’re not special anymore and just like typical mediocre ice cream – they’re a lot worse. That’s the really shocking thing to me.

  31. says

    Jeff Hess from havecoffeewillwrite.com pointed this post out to me.

    I make my own ice cream using an old-fashioned bucket ice cream mixer. My strawberry ice cream is delicious and only contains strawberries, heavy cream and some sugar. It takes about 3 days to make a batch (Prep time is about 10 minutes, the rest involves the mix sitting in the fridge or freezer). The math works out to be cheaper than Breyer’s and tastier by far. A double recipe makes just less than a gallon.

    For me, however, the best part is the chemistry to supercool the water while the mixer does it’s thing. A great little science experiment with my son, too.

  32. Henry Gale says

    I suspect this is so Breyers can be on the shelf at Walmarts. Walmart forces suppliers to keep prices low even at times less than inflation.

    As a result the supplier has to cut quality so they can have a foothold into the largest retailer in the U.S.

    As a corporation, Breyers cares little about the quality of their product. If they can make more money by selling cardboard flavored soy in Walmarts then selling all-Natural ice cream via local stores then that is exactly what they will do.

    People who feed on McDonalds dont have the most discerning taste buds anyway.

  33. says

    I am no marketing genius but I cannot see how this can be considered a good move.

    Since the upper end of the market is held by Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dasz, apparently their marketing team decided to move “downmarket” …

    Just closing the business would work better. “Frozen plastic dessert” might sell! It’s edgy!

  34. scotlyn says

    Kate – I do know milk is a problem for many – and this should most definitely also be catered for!

    MOST of the time (but not always), such milk-related problems arise from either the proteins – esp casein – or from the sugars – esp lactose. Fortunately, there is very, very little of protein or sugar in real cream or real butter. (And I do love me all that CLA and all those MCT’s in their tasty home setting!)

    IMHO, my idea of ice cream contains no milk, and certainly no soy! but only real cream, eggs and a few added flavours.

  35. scotlyn says

    Hey, yummy – I can smell the smoke from here!

    I was thinking about the definition of “fishery” a bit more, and I think that it refers to something like “the geographic extent and location of a fish species that humans wish to exploit.”

    I live in a fishing village in Ireland, so the term here is used to refer to the areas where the fishermen go out to fish – for examle – “the Irish mackerel fishery” “the Faeroese cod fishery,” and so on.

    I think the earlier reply about wild salmon re-stocking refers to the use of a “hatchery” not a “fishery”. Such hatched fish, if they are to take to a wild life cycle have to be put into the rivers fairly early in the cycle. The use of a hatchery intervenes to protect the eggs and hatchlings in the very earliest parts of their life cycle when they are most vulnerable to predation. Hatcheries are generally used to restock rivers with wild fish to promote angling and related tourist enterprises. They are actually very effective at helping to conserve these species that humans are so fond of over-fishing.

    Salmon farming is a whole other thing. We also have salmon farms nearby, and I can’t think of anything good that can be said about them. The farmed fish incubate diseases that wild salmon can catch and spread as they pass by on their way upriver, and they sometimes escape into the wild and breed, which seems to diminish the ability of such mixed offspring to find good spawning grounds later. They pollute the surrounding areas of seabed with too high a concentration of biological waste, and have been implicated in a couple of local fish kills.

    They also require the fishing of other fish with which to feed them (weight for weight around 3 to 1, I think), and many of the alternative species caught for making salmon food pellets have not been studied sufficiently to provide information on stock sustainability.

    As it happens, I have never heard anyone here refer to the salmon farms, or their products as a “fishery.” They are not “fished” they are “harvested.”

    But that’s a quibble. I won’t argue with wikipedia!

  36. cathyw says

    Now I find myself wondering: was this possibly driven by Walmart? I know they leveraged their too-big-to-not-sell-to-them status with a lot of clothing manufacturers by insisting, “We are going to sell your garments for $X. Do whatever you need to to get us garments we can sell for $X.” – which may have resulted in the quality of Levi’s jeans going downhill and their last few US operations being offshored, for example.

    If they’re hitting food manufacturers with the same kind of pressure to use cheaper ingredients so they can still make a profit at Walmart’s price point… that’s really kind of sad.

  37. Barbara Jaquez says

    Breyers is NOT Breyers. You are absolutely correct. After another big disappointment this evening, we will never by the product again!!!

  38. Frank Basile says

    After a LIFETIME of eating Breyers I am finished…Thank you UNILEVER!…Just had the cherry vanilla and it was terrible…Thought I mistakenly bought the diet sugar free version as a heavy aftertaste which smacked of aspamarte….noticed the DAIRY label instead of ICE CREAM…also lower weight…..a shame-I used to love Breyers.

  39. Betty says

    What I’ve noticed is that the ice cream no longer freezes solidly. It has a spongy texture and little taste.

    I feel that Unilever should have warned it’s loyal customers of the change. That way, we would have made an informed decision either to continue to purchase the Breyers brand or to buy another. At least, they would not have a lot of angry customers.

    Was it really worth selling a few more cartons by allowing us to discover, for ourselves, that we had wasted our money? Shame on you, Unilever!

    In the South, Blue Bell is now the best brand to buy. Their vanilla (all types except French Vanilla) is the best of any commercial brand I’ve tried.

  40. LMG says

    I agree! Breyers used to be my favorite, even as a child, but I will no longer purchase it due to dismay at the additives and gums that adversely affect the texture, smaller package price and general lower quality. I find there is one brand on the market comparable to what Breyers used to be. It is Turkey Hill Philadelphia Style (just changed to Turkey Hill All Natural). It comes in limited, but classic, flavors. In fact I have the Cherry Vanilla in my freezer presently. Ingredient list: Cream, Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Black Cherries, Vanilla. That’s it! I live in the Northeast, so I’m not sure if distribution is nationwide, but if so, you should try it!

  41. Connie Mansfield says

    wow….me too. It looks like the old “Icecream” maker is back out making real and delicious “icecream” and having fun at the same time.

  42. Tom Markowski says

    I was raised in Newark NJ in the shadow of the Bryers ice cream plant and it has been my favorite for over 70 years.A few weeks ago I bought my usually weekly suppy and after tasting both I remarked to my family that Bryers must have changed its receipie for making ice cream….It was like eating a foamy sweet chalk…They could never convince me they improved it……..It was a major mistake and I know in my heart that most if not all of we Bryers Ice Cream lovers will give up on the brand……….It is a terrible terrible business deciision and they will pay the price………The Breyrs label Will crumble………….unfortunately………..

  43. M. OBrien says

    I guess I am late to the party, but thank you Mano Singham for letting me locate this info on Breyers. I just tried Breyers ‘ice cream’ after a long absence and was SO disappointed. I didn’t know what was happening. I sympathize with many, many comments I see in this posting. So full of air and tasteless. I was looking for the whole strawberries that I remember finding in that dense creamy stuff, but only found spongy, airy, tiny red bits (of what I hope were strawberries). Good info you guys, thanks. I am on the “won’t be purchasing Breyer’s products again” list.

  44. Bob says

    RE Frank Basile comment: WTF is “aspamarte” – aspartame? Thought maybe it was foreign, but Google would not translate. Definitely agree w/ next comment by Betty – Blue Bell Rules!

  45. j says

    Throwing this Breyers cookies n cream away. Weird chemical taste in my mouth, strange after taste. Film feeling in my mouth after I eat it. Gross. So dissapointed in the changes.

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