With summer weather on the way, grocery freezer cases have some new dessert choices to help us chill. In April, Haagen-Dazs began marketing a line of gelato. And Ben & Jerry's just added three more flavors to its selection of frozen Greek yogurt, which was introduced last year.
The gelato comes in black cherry amaretto, cappuccino, dark chocolate chip, limoncello, sea salt caramel, vanilla bean and stracciatella.
Ben & Jerry's latest Greek yogurt flavors are Liz Lemon, pineapple passionfruit and vanilla honey caramel. These share freezer space with banana peanut butter, blueberry vanilla graham, raspberry fudge chunk and strawberry shortcake.
Both Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's are tapping into very hot food trends (of the cold variety). "It's a great time to be launching gelato now," Cady Behles, Haagen-Dazs brand manager, told Squid Ink.
The company first tried selling gelato in 1998, but the venture was short-lived. "Back then, people really weren't familiar with gelato and it was very challenging," she said.
A decade later, The New York Times reported that gelato was "catching the fancy of food lovers. With less than half the butterfat of regular ice cream, gelato is less fattening and healthier, and its dense, rich flavor and smooth texture can be highly addictive."
Yes, it can. We learned this the other day, as we plowed through a pint of stracciatella, which is hard to pronounce but easy to devour. It has a sweet cream base with slivers of dark chocolate.
Behles said that flavor, and others, were inspired by traditional Italian gelato. An exception is the very popular sea salt caramel, developed in response to Americans' current obsession with the sweet and salty combo.
Haagen-Dazs uses Italian actors in its TV ad campaign, including a funny 30-second spot featuring a volatile couple. Although the company has an international presence, the gelato will not be sold in Italy -- or anywhere beyond North America.
On the yogurt front, the Greek variety has become huge business. As reported in USA Today, Greek yogurt accounts for a quarter of the total U.S. yogurt market thanks to a "dizzying growth spurt ...Greek yogurt is made a bit differently than the thinner, more watery product that dominated U.S. supermarket shelves for decades. The whey is strained off, leaving a creamier yogurt high in protein and low in fat."
With that in mind, Ben & Jerry's frozen Greek yogurt is denser and richer than most frozen yogurts. But it still has the distinctive tartness that lets you know you're not eating ice cream. "We're not suggesting that our Greek frozen yogurts replace people's standard breakfast foods -- though people certainly have been known to dig out of a pint at all hours," spokesperson Elizabeth Stewart told us. "But rather, we're suggesting our fans enjoy it as a treat that's a little better for them."
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Stewart said that a company truck will be in Los Angeles until June 10, scooping free samples of Greek yogurt: "While in town, the truck is visiting local businesses, non-profits, backyard barbeques and anything and everything in between. What is so unique about this program is that is 'driven' by Ben & Jerry's fans; by tweeting the truck @benjerryswest fans can request that the truck come to them."
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