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Baskin-Robbins dropping 5 flavors

They include French vanilla, one of the Original 31, and its demise at the end of the month has prompted complaints.

By Karen Datko Jul 23, 2010 3:23PM

Say it ain't so: Baskin-Robbins, in celebration of its 65th year, is eliminating five ice cream flavors from the menu, including French vanilla, causing great angst among that flavor's many fans. What kind of celebration is that?

Change is inevitable, but so is resistance to change. And those who love French vanilla are very vocal. "B/R should be ashamed of even considering this. Vanilla (French or otherwise) is the best to put things on, in my opinion," wrote one protester on the Save Baskin-Robbins' French Vanilla from the Deep Freeze page at Facebook. Another fan called the move "evil."


The five flavors are scheduled to retire to the Deep Freeze (that's the company's term) on July 31, or perhaps sooner. "The last of each batch has been sent out to the various stores . . . once they're gone, they're gone," our pal Eric Burkett wrote on Delish.


The other flavors on the hit list are: apple pie à la mode (available since 1976), Superfudge Truffle (2007), Campfire S'mores (1975) and caramel praline cheesecake (1970). (No! After regular vanilla, that's my favorite.)

None of those flavors shares French vanilla's storied history at the ice cream chain. As Ken Hoffman of the Houston Chronicle observed:

French vanilla is one of the few flavors that has been available nonstop, without interruption, every day since the first Baskin-Robbins opened in Glendale, Calif., in 1945. Irv Robbins himself ordered French vanilla to be part of the Original 31 flavors.

According to Hoffman, French vanilla is the only member of the Original 31 to meet this fate. "They couldn't have put Cherry Macaroon out of its misery?" he asked. "Or Honey Nut Crunch? Honey Nut Crunch doesn't even sound like ice cream. That's a breakfast cereal."


Company officials are casting the decision in a positive light: This is progress. Brian O'Mara, vice president of marketing for Baskin-Robbins, told Hoffman that "when we decided to retire flavors, we knew we wanted to retire one of the originals to truly mark 65 years of flavor innovation." Five new flavors will debut in the fall.


Clearly, some of the more than 1,300 Baskin-Robbins flavors offered over the years were destined for a short run. (You can see the contents of the Deep Freeze here.) From a Baskin-Robbins press release:

As ice cream lovers' tastes change, flavors are retired to make room for new creations. The five flavors will be joining many historic, delicious ice cream flavors created over the years, including: Whyte 2K Chocolate Overload, Candi-date, 0031 Secret Bonded and Bobsled Brownie.

But French vanilla? Are they off the mark with this one? Many think so. "The only shocking retirement (of the five) would seem to be French vanilla. Sort of a classic, isn't it?" wrote San Antonio columnist Michael O'Rourke at My SA Life.


What makes French vanilla ice cream such a favorite? Ice cream expert Bruce Tharp, an adjunct professor of food science at Penn State, explained on NPR:

French vanilla is distinguished from regular vanilla by the presence of egg yolks. It gives it a little bit of yellowish color, although that can be manipulated by whatever types of colors are added. What it does do is give it a characteristic flavor, sort of an egg custard flavor that people associate with that.

Tharp said he didn't know why Baskin-Robbins is giving its French vanilla the boot, but added:

It's possible, however, just speculating, that they may see that there is not a big consumer differentiation between French vanilla and regular vanilla, and it would be having two flavors in their line at any given time which are quite similar to each other, and so they may want to make room for something else.

What do you think? Will you miss Baskin-Robbins French vanilla? Or has the old flavor run its course?


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