Oh, the things I do for my craft, you know, journalism. Like last week for instance, when a public relations agency alerted me to the fact that Graeter’s Ice Cream is now available in the Roanoke Valley at local Sheetz stores. “The fourth-generation, family-owned company stands apart from the rest, having pioneered the French Pot process of making only two gallons at a time with all-natural ingredients like heavy cream and pure cane sugar,” said the media advisory. “End result… a dense, creamy texture and massive chocolate chips,” it added.
That also means a higher calorie and fat content than some ice creams; much higher than (about twice) as high as the lower fat/reduced calorie ice cream I normally consume. Anyway, the PR firm send me four 1-pint containers of assorted flavors: chocolate, black raspberry, mint and vanilla, all four featuring dark chocolate chips.
Made since 1870 in Cincinnati – again, just two gallons at a time – Graeter’s apparently is the choice for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Emeril Lagasse (the TV chef) and Sarah Jessica Parker. If the super-skinny Parker (the Sex and the City star) eats Graeter’s on a regular basis, with its high calorie and fat content (about 50% fat) she must not eat anything else all day, or she works it off.
Make no mistake however, Graeter’s is good stuff. I enjoyed the Black Raspberry chocolate chip most of all, in part for nostalgic reasons – my late father adored black raspberry ice cream. Others involved in my impromptu taste test also approved: “you actually breath in the mint,” said 8-year-old Jaccob Bell about the mint chocolate chip. “It tastes like peppermint cake,” added his 7-year-old brother Brady.
All four samples had a creamy, fresh texture – like the ice cream stand I remember as a kid on vacation in New Hampshire, where my father would make a beeline to the Mill Stream Ice Cream stand, looking for that Black Raspberry. “Almost a homemade taste,” noted Beth Bell, Jaccob and Brady’s mother.
The chocolate chips were more like slabs or large shavings of dark, rich chocolate that melted in the mouth. Very well done. For the true ice cream aficionado not too worried about the calorie or fat content, Graeter’s may be the closest they come to homemade perfection. It is really good stuff, maybe a guilty pleasure. And that’s based on just a few teaspoons from each of the four flavors they sent me in a Styrofoam mailer, packed in dry ice.
For others that do read labels, they may want to save Graeter’s for special occasions –like rewarding yourself after running a half marathon or hiking part of the Appalachian Trail. There’s another benefit to picking up your ice cream at a local Sheetz station in Roanoke or Salem, of course – you can also gas up at the same time.
By the way, I am more than willing and able to review other products – steaks, wings, new salsas, interesting pastas, adult beverages, etc. The things I do for my craft. The Graeter’s ice cream taste test was just another example, and a delicious one at that.
By Gene Marrano