The distinctive flecks of vanilla bean in Breyers Natural Vanilla (starting at $4) led some of our panelists in the blind tasting to identify it as Breyers, although they had not been told that this brand was one of the ice cream choices being tested. Breyers Natural Vanilla proved to be a real favorite because it wasn't overly sweet, and the vanilla taste was described as "mild" and not artificial. Panelists said it had a "light" texture that was admired by some, although others found it was too airy.
The color of Breyers Natural Vanilla is quite white, and there are no misleading clues to suggest that eating it is going to be a custard-like experience. Breyers Natural Vanilla is, by sight alone, not going to pass as a premium ice cream, which was quite OK with some of our tasters. It was interesting to watch this ice cream melt, and one of the panelists noted that it "just sort of fell apart."
The quick melting is likely due to the absence of artificial ingredients. The vanilla bean flecks seem to be deceptive - there is no vanilla bean mentioned in the ingredients list - but whatever is there makes for a very real ice cream. Breyers Natural Vanilla contains only milk, cream, sugar, tara gum, and natural flavorings.
Breyers started as a Philadelphia ice cream shop in the 1880's but the product quickly spread throughout the East Coast. While Breyers ice cream is now owned by Unilever, no one so far has messed with a good thing. Breyers Natural Vanilla proved to be our panel's favorite cheap ice cream.