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WINTER Wear: An avocet wades in the Bear River to look for a tasty snack. The bird's black-and-white winter plumage heralds the onset of cold weather. / Photo by Mike Sweeney

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 11, 2005

On journalists during wartime (for Veterans Day):

"[I]n the news media that covered the war both overseas and domestically, journalists also were willing to cooperate and do their
part. The public did not see journalists (and journalists did not see themselves) as being against the team. Journalists were part of the team. Some, such as roving correspondent Ernie Pyle, repeatedly visited combat zones even though they did not have to do so, and they paid with their lives."

--Michael S. Sweeney, press historian, 2001 (from "Secrets of Victory," about censorship during WWII)


I'm taste-testing supermarket ice cream - hard work but somebody's gotta do it

By Brock Anderson

October 18, 2005 | Ice cream is no stranger to most Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2003 Americans consumed 16.7 pounds of ice cream per person. If Americans are eating that much ice cream, how are th ey choosing which brand of ice cream to buy? Is the decision based solely on quality or cost, and do higher prices equal better ice cream? In an attempt to answer these questions I decided to put it to a taste-test.

To begin, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased five half-gallon cartons of cookies-and-cream ice cream in different brands. The brands I bought were Great Value for $2.38, Meadow Gold for $2.67, Farr for $3.98, Dreyer's for $4.48, and Snelgrove for $4.77.

I wanted to learn what brand other people thought was the best, so I conducted a taste-test survey on seven Utah State University students. The participants sampled all five kinds of ice cream without knowing which brands they were eating. They made comments and ranked each kind from best to worst. Everyone 's No. 1 pick received five points, or scoops, as I'll refer to them, and the other four picks received one less scoop for each descending rank.

Snelgrove's brand, receiving 24 scoops, was the participants' top pick. Participant, Jared Christensen said, "It's very pleasing to the eye."

"It has a good ratio of cookies to ice cream," Ryan Davis said.

"Superb ice cream flavor, perfect consistency," said Andy Hall.

At second place, Farr received 22 scoops. "This ice cream has a better vanilla flavor, but has a very poor ratio of cookies to ice cream," Davis said. Others seemed to agree that there weren't enough cookies for the amount of cream.

Meadow Gold came in third place with 21 scoops. "It could have used a few more cookies," Shandy Wright said.

"Overall it was only average," said Hall.

Great Value was fourth place at 20 scoops. "It had good cookie distribution, but was the worst texture of them all," Christensen said.

The second most expensive brand, Dreyer's, came in last place with a total of 18 scoops. "I don't like that there is no filling inside of the cookies," Kristina Bingham said.

After the survey was completed I told the participants the cost of each brand. I then asked everyone to rate the brands again based on taste and cost. In this case Meadow Gold decisively won with 27 scoops, and Farr finished in second place again with 22 scoops. Snelgrove's high price bumped the famous ice cream to third place, at 21 scoops. Great Value and Dreyer's remained in fourth and fifth places receiving 19 and 16 scoops respectively.

After sampling a little, and then sampling a lot more, I finally reached a decision and ranked the brands from best to worst. I must admit, it was not an easy task. All five brands had good qualities; however, in the end I decided Snelgrove's version was the best. Its rich, intense ice cream flavor and ample amount of cookie chunks, big and small, gave it my five scoop vote.

I ranked the remaining brands as follows: Farr, four scoops, Meadow Gold, three scoops, Dreyer's, two scoops and Great Value, one scoop.

Farr was the most smooth and creamy ice cream out of all five brands. Its weakness lies in an inadequate amount of cookies. For those people who prefer a greater proportion of cream than cookie, Farr is a sure winner.

For a low-priced ice cream, Meadow Gold gets the blue ribbon. It has a lot of cookies combined with a fairly good quality ice cream that satisfies an ice-cream eater's needs.

Dreyer's would have received a much higher vote had they used a different cookie in the ice cream. Their cookies tasted rather bitter and left a bad aftertaste in my mouth.

I must give Great Value credit for loading their ice cream with a lot of cookies that have a great chocolate taste. Unfortunately, the ice cream has a gritty texture and its yellow color makes it unappealing. In this case cheap price equaled cheap ice cream. Perhaps if Great Value and Dreyer's collaborated, they could make a great product.

Well, now I'm ready to make an early start on my 16.7 pounds of ice cream for next year.


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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