A year ago, New York’s Van Leeuwen Ice Cream teamed up with Kraft Foods in an unprecedented culinary program.
This venture turned out to be an overnight success.
At $12 a pint, their first version of Macaroni & Cheese French Ice Cream sold out within an hour, crashing Van Leeuwen’s website.
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Both companies knew a good thing when they saw it and immediately got to work on a 10-week 2022 limited edition of the same. The mac ‘n’ cheesy ice cream arrived on March 10 in 3,500 Walmart stores across the United States.
Ashland and Wooster Walmarts were among those lucky 3,500, and Ken Rawls, Theresa Watson and Jennifer Washock of Ashland Kroc Center were our three lucky tasters.
The packaging gives the panel high expectations for gourmet taste
Designed with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese box art as a guide, the packaging received favorable reviews from our reviewers.
“The package looks very expensive. Upscale gourmet,” noted Watson.
It does, containing four premium ingredients — milk, cream, egg yolks, and organic cane sugar — and selling for just under $5 per 14-ounce jar.
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With high expectations, the judges moved on.
The cheddar orange color of the ice cream was exactly what they expected. The aroma was another matter. All three detected a smell of cheese, but much milder than expected.
As Watson described it, “It’s not a strong smell, just a faint cheese smell.” She picked up more of a salty sweetness versus cheese with her sniff assessment.
Our tasters took great care to assess texture and flavor.
Turns out, the sweet-salty nature Watson identified deserved a boost from all three.
According to Rawls, “it has a creamy texture and a salty, cheesy, and sweet taste, all at the same time.”
I was surprised by this conclusion, so I checked the ingredient list.
To achieve complete authenticity, Van Leeuwen used Kraft’s own cheese sauce mix recipe. Salt, the number three ingredient in the powder, played a major role in producing a sweet-salty contrast.
Expensive but worth it ice cream as a tasty and unique treat
As for me, I identified a definite Kraft mac and cheese flavor and liked it, even though my judges were more focused on sweet and savory.
We all agreed that the texture was incredibly creamy, smooth and worth savoring.
All three said they would buy a “pint”, Watson to share with the kids, Rawls and Washock for the unique flavor – but with a Washock qualifier.
“It’s very good, surprisingly. However, at $5 (for 14 ounces), I would really (need) to consider it a treat.
To buy this beginner, look beyond the normal freezer section of Walmart. I found mine in a tipped freezer along with other curious Van Leeuwen ice cream options like Pizza, Planet Earth, Hot Honey, Royal Wedding Cake and Bourbon Cherries Jubilee.
Not sure to try it? Consider what Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, a French lawyer and politician as well as an 18th century foodie, had to say.
“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of humanity than the discovery of a star.”
Until next time …
Contact Cami via email at [email protected]