We had a grand old time at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory tour, but the fun didn’t end at their threshold or at closing time. On the way to the parking lot is a special outdoor tribute we’ve never seen any other company attempt: a mock graveyard in which every tombstone represents a discontinued product. When was the last time you visited a McDonald’s with its own chapel where you can light a candle for the Cheddar Melt or the McLean Deluxe?
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Since 1999 Anne and I have taken one road trip each year to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. After years of contenting ourselves with everyday life in Indianapolis and any surrounding areas that also had comics and toy shops, we chucked some of our self-imposed limitations and resolved as a team to leave the comforts of home for annual chances to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
For 2022 we wanted the opposite of Yellowstone. Last year’s vacation was an unforgettable experience, but those nine days and 3500 miles were daunting and grueling. Vermont was closer, smaller, greener, cozier, and slightly cooler. Thus we set aside eight days to venture through the four states that separate us from the Green Mountain State, dawdle there for a bit, and backtrack home…
Welcome to Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, where canceled ice creams go when they die. Some were beloved flavors that enjoyed long runs before they were put out to pasture and to be pasteurized no more. Others were total misfires, in which their traditional “one ingredient from every column” recipe formula yielded a result somewhere between “zero chemistry” and “they tampered in God’s domain”. We photographed most of their candidly self-deprecating headstones for better or worse. I’m prone to the occasional culinary experiment, but at least ten of their ex-flavors left me cold. The wrong kind of cold, I mean.
1. Pina Colada: “Coconut Ice Cream with Pineapple Chunks”.
2. Dastardly Mash: “Chocolate Ice Cream with Pecans, Almonds, Raisins, & Chocolate Chips”.
3. Oatmeal Cookie Chunk: “Sweet Cream Cinnamon Ice Cream with Oatmeal Cookies & Fudge Chunks”.
4. Tennessee Mud: “Coffee Ice Cream with Amaretto, Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and Roasted Slivered Almonds”.
5. Wild Maine Blueberry: “Blueberry ice cream with Maine blueberry puree and wild Maine blueberries”.
6. Sugar Plum: “Plum Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl”.
7. Miz Jelena’s Sweet Potato Pie: “Swirls of Sweet Potato Pie Filling and Cinnamon Pieces in slightly Spicy Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream”.
8. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt: self-evident.
9. What a Cluster: “Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Marshmallow Swirls & Peanut Buttery Swirls”.
10. Urban Jumble: “Coconut Almond Fudge Chip meets New York Super Fudge Chunk: A Swirling Safari of Chocolate Ice Cream & Coconut Ice Cream mixed with White & Dark Chocolatey Chunks, Pecans & Roasted Almonds”.
To be fair, I also saw several flavors I would’ve cheerfully paid to sample, but arrived too late to treat myself. The loss is mine, unless I’m wrong and these were all extra-sugary swill. I wouldn’t know!
…and there were more, more, more! But you get the idea and the joke.
Thus we took our leave of Ben & Jerry’s and had a better driving experience in the five-minute return to our hotel down the mountainside. Anne had no appetite remaining after the day’s hectic pace and the earlier generous feedings. Rather than go out solo, I kludged together a dinner using her leftover capellini from J. Morgan’s Steakhouse and the last of our cheddar cheese cubes from Dakin Farm. Together those might sound gross to you, but at least I wasn’t trying to cram them into an ice cream maker.
Apropos of the previous hour, we ended Day Five cozying up to our hotel TV for that evening’s new episode of Chopped — the finale to the “Desperately Seeking Sous Chef” tournament that turned out to be their last new episode for months. As we’ve covered in the past, the Chopped kitchen is one of humanity’s ultimate laboratories where incongruent ingredients are forced to coexist in the same serving dish and the results can be a chef’s career high or their deadliest crime.
To be continued!
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The last B and J ice-cream I consumed was Cherry Garcia. I am so biased and old that I can’t get past their liberal politics, so I eat Bluebell instead. Don’t think politics don’t affect ice cream, trust me they do. At least Bluebell is Texas based.
Throughout our travels we’ve visited places all over the political spectrum. Some we agree with, some we don’t. Vermont and our own Indiana differ in quite a few ways, but it was interesting to compare and contrast our state with theirs, and our businesses with theirs.
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I lived in Indianapolis for a year renovating Union Station, I found the folks there to be down to earth and mostly conservative, unlike Ben and Jerry’s followers. I guess we see what we want to see and follow who we choose. Hope the ice cream is good, I prefer Bluebell, made in Texas with no political affiliations.
I admit to being a stubborn old goat about politics. I never dreamed it would effect what I eat. Oh well, if the chickens go to hell in a hand basket, I’m in real trouble and may have to rethink my stands. I lived in Indianapolis for 6 months building a project in Union Station. It’s a wonderful city and a great state.
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