Breyers Ice Cream was the ice cream of my childhood. I wasn’t paleo back then and like most kids, I didn’t care or even consider the ingredient list. I just cared about the taste, and Breyer’s clean taste stood out from the other mainstream brands found in the Supermarket. There were a few exceptions, like local brand Richman’s Ice Cream that I liked just as much, but as they weren’t as big they didn’t go on sale as often and as such didn’t find a place in our freezer as often.
As I got older I started making the connection between ingredients and quality. Breyers themselves stressed this in their famous advertising campaign that featured people stumbling all over themselves trying to pronounce the chemicals, artificial thickeners, and processed ingredients found in their competitor’s ingredient list. I had a teacher who suffered from cancer who would only eat Breyers Ice Cream for that very reason.
I got away from ice cream after childhood, and especially when I to paleo, so it came as quite a shock to me when I tried a bowl of Breyers Vanilla Fudge Swirl Ice Cream (one of my old favorites) last month. The taste and texture were more than just “off”, they were gross. So I grab the container and see on the ingredient label- guar gum, carrageenan, corn syrup, mono and diglycerides, tara gum, and “natural flavors” and I’m wondering what the heck is going on. I check the name of the brand to make sure I haven’t bought some bootleg version but no, it’s really Breyers.
So I get to investigating what’s going on. A little research reveals that multinational food conglomerate Unilever bought Breyers out in 1993 and almost immediately started to transform one of America’s most beloved products in their own twisted image. First came all the gums and stabilizers and the addition of “natural flavor”. Then they shrunk the package from a half gallon to 1.75 quarts (all the while keeping the price the same). Having gotten away with that slight of hand, they then shrunk the container further down to 1.5 quarts (again, charging you the same price as before). And finally, when they were convinced there was simply no outrage they could commit that would raise the ire of the brain dead American consumer they went all in and stopped making ice cream at all. Yes, that’s right, if you look carefully on the packaging Breyers doesn’t actually sell ice cream at all anymore. They sell “Frozen Dairy Desert”. Apparently they’ve adulterated their product with so many chemicals and stabilizers that the FDA won’t even let them call it ice cream anymore.
But the really insidious thing about all these changes Unilever made was the fact through this entire transformation, the packaging print remained the same. They took a product that people associated with premium quality, replaced all the quality ingredients with cheap crap, then kept selling it in the same black and green box with the same wording for the same price. That is simply deceptive. So if you are still buying Breyer’s Ice Cream, stop. Tell your family, tell your friends. If you are so inspired, stand in front of your local Supermarket with a giant sign and tell the world. The real Breyers Ice Cream died over a decade ago, and the disgusting imitation currently using the name is an insult to both the memory of a great brand and your taste buds as well.