Although our testers didn't realize we had added a more premium ice cream to the blind tasting mix, they gravitated toward Ben & Jerry's Vanilla (starting at $4) for its richer taste, more substantial mouth feel, and deep vanilla color. From many of our tasters it was hard to get comments other than "mmmm."
The panelists were delighted with Ben & Jerry's "pure" vanilla flavor and insisted they could tell that there were no artificial ingredients. While some termed the product sweet, no one found it to be excessively so. Ultimately, it was the smooth and "creamiest" texture that kept them asking to taste it again and again.
Unlike the other ice creams we tested, Ben & Jerry's Vanilla contains egg yolk, which contributes to the rich texture. Other ingredients include milk, cream, sugar, and stabilizers. The vanilla comes from extract that's made from a variety of vanilla beans. And to augment the socially conscious qualities that keep Ben & Jerry's close to its activist roots, those vanilla beans are all fair trade, harvested by Indonesian farmers who belong to associations that support sustainable farming practices.
From small beginnings in a former Burlington, Vermont gas station, Ben & Jerry's is still independently operated although it is owned by Unilever. And once a year, if you're lucky enough to live near a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop, you can step right in and help the company celebrate "free cone day."