Perry’s Ice Cream taste testers for a day - OPINION
blog by S.J. Velasquez • March 26, 2013 @ 10:59am
It’s the best job in the world: ice cream taste tester.
A representative from Perry’s Ice Cream emailed me a few weeks ago with the most tempting offer I’d ever received. It was an invitation to test varieties of ice cream produced by the Akron-based company. Obviously, I accepted the challenge, and so did Kat and Katie, two of my Buffalo.com-Buffalo News co-workers.
Off we went to Akron, joining TV news personalities, food bloggers and fellow news writers for a few hours of ice cream overload.
First, we toured the facilities and chatted with Brian Perry, executive vice president and vice chairman of the Perry’s empire. And, if you hadn’t noticed, he’s a Perry, himself. He talked to us about the company’s plans for sustainability, growth in new markets and the history of the family’s brand. He even divulged a few trade secrets, including how Perry’s achieves such a creamy ice cream.
Then came the anticipated moment: ice cream binge time.
We gathered in a classroom-like room where we first learned how professional taste testers evaluate ice cream. The major factors considered are basic taste, aroma and flavor aromatics, and feeling factors.
Typically, testers try out three flavors maximum, but we squeezed in a few more during our short tenure as taste testers. It was explained to us that many of the flavors we were about to try are still in testing phases. Once an ice cream is approved for sale, it might first go to scoop shops where it is market tested. If a particular variety sells well, it might go on to be sold in cartons at grocery stores.
Without further ado, here’s the breakdown to Flavor Town:
Oh My, Cherry Pie!
It really did taste like a cherry pie—a la mode, of course.
This vanilla-based ice cream featured swirls of cherry with graham cracker throughout.
The graham cracker was still nice and dry, not soggy by any means.
While our team really enjoyed this one, both Katie and I thought it could use a little more cherry to replicate the tart and sweet flavors one comes to expect from a cherry pie.
Popcorn-flavored ice cream? Yes, popcorn-flavored ice cream.
There was an undeniable fascination with this ice cream when we saw it on the sheet before us. How can popcorn be translated to an ice cream flavor?
Well, it can, but in a subtle way.
Perry’s created this ice cream with sea salt caramel swirls and caramel truffles flecked throughout the scoops.
A few of us noted that the ice cream really did smell buttery, like a movie theater. The flavor, though, was less like butter and more like butterscotch. I wasn’t mad at ‘em.
This ended up being my favorite flavor of the day, but I can see this particular flavor not being for everyone. It was, for sure, my cup of tea.
Perry’s, a local company, knows a thing or two about Buffalonians. One of those things is that locals love sponge candy.
The crunchy Western New York treat is a point of pride for those of us who grew up in the area, found sponge candy cubes in our Easter baskets and now give them to significant others on Valentine’s Day.
Perry’s made mini pieces of sponge candies and scattered them throughout a caramel sugar ice cream base, swirling in caramelized sugar.
I personally would’ve appreciated more pieces of sponge candy in my scoop, but I really enjoyed the ice cream base. It reminded me of creme brulee. The hints of burned sugary caramel played off the crunchy insides of the chocolate candies quite nicely.
Queen of Hearts
Katie’s head nearly exploded when she tasted this one.
Queen of Hearts consists of dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry swirls and fudge-filled hearts.
It was very rich and super chocolate-y, which I’m sure would appeal to those who love their chocolate as much as Katie does. For me, I’d rather have a lighter chocolate base or maybe a bit more berry punch to balance out all that coco.
One other taster pointed out that the fudge-filled hearts were a milk chocolate, which didn’t mesh with the decadent dark chocolate ice cream. Katie, I’d be willing to bet, would disagree.
This was another favorite of mine.
This particular black cherry ice cream is one in Perry’s all-natural line. That means no artificial flavors and colors.
The black cherry ice cream base is perfectly smooth and sweet, but not over-the-top sweet. The cherry-to-cream ratio is ideal, in my book.
Other all-natural flavors include chocolate, chocolate chip, vanilla and maple walnut.
Last but not least in the taste testing was the party sandwich, a new take on the traditional ice cream sandwich we all devoured as kids.
At first glance, it was clear that this item is geared toward younger ice cream eaters. The colored specks in the ice cream are reminiscent of Funfetti cake.
I’m pretty sure that, in kids’ minds (adults, too, honestly), sprinkles make everything taste better.
Maybe it was the omission of the chocolate wafer and addition of the vanilla that made me think that this product actually tasted like cake. I couldn’t differentiate between what my eyes and taste buds were telling me.
I’m an ice cream sandwich purist, so I wasn’t in love with this concept, but I most definitely picked up a box to bring back to my nieces and nephew, who—I’m sure—would eat these novelties in no time.
Perry’s Ice Cream freezer. -20 degrees! vine.co/v/bDhu99JXMzE— S.J. Velasquez (@sjvelasquez) March 22, 2013