Could there be a better job in the world than being an ice cream taste tester for a day?
A while back I got contacted by an employee of Perry’s Ice Cream in Akron, NY with an invitation to come tour their plant and taste test their 2013 ice cream flavors. How could I say no? So a few weeks ago I set out for Akron with my husband (I got to bring a guest!) and joined other food bloggers and writers for Buffalo News and Buffalo Business First.
Growing up with Perry’s ice cream, it was a great place to finally visit and get a tour of their plant. This place is truly heaven for an ice cream junkie like me. This is nirvana….top of the highest peak…..the ultimate…. did I happen to mention delicious ice cream samples? The tour was fun, easy going and informative. Brian Perry talked about the history of Perry’s, their plans for sustainability, and explained the process of making ice cream. Brian is the executive vice president of Perry’s and informed us that there are 3rd, 4th, and even 5th generation “Perry’s” currently involved in the business…pretty cool! He even shared with us the secret as to how they get their ice cream so much creamier than their competition. After 95 years in the business, Perry’s is still making their ice cream one batch at a time with their slow cook method.
My favorite part of the tour was getting to look view the production floor to see the ice cream being made. I definitely had my face pressed up against the glass and looking down at ALL.OF.THAT.ICE.CREAM!
Finally, we were brought into a taste testing room to sample their new 2013 flavors and we binged on huge samples of ice cream for the next hour. You never know if this flavor will make it to your supermarket freezer, but it’s really neat to try something different. They also taught us the ins and outs of taste testing and how the professionals do it using sensory descriptors (butter, creamy, nutty, toasted, malt, etc.), aroma and flavor aromatics, basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter), and feeling factors (thermal or chemical). It was all so interesting!
OK, let’s talk ice cream! The Taste Testing Menu was as follows:
This ended up being a lactose free vanilla ice cream. It tasted like a sugar cookie to me (which is a good thing!). I loved it and would never have guessed it was lactose free.
Oh My, Cherry Pie!
This tasted just like a cherry pie and was my husband’s favorite as he is a big fan of anything cherry flavor. It is a vanilla-based ice cream with delicious swirls of cherry and graham cracker chunks throughout.
Popcorn-flavored ice cream! This might not appeal to you, but trust me when I say it was amazing! This was my top pick of the day. Popcorn-flavored ice cream might not be for everyone, but I feel as though it was made for me It even had a strong smell of buttery popcorn with sea salt caramel swirls and caramel truffles throughout the ice cream. I loved the combination of sweet and salty flavors. Perfection! .
One of the things I learned that day was that sponge candy is more of a local thing for Western New Yorkers. I never knew this before. It is quite prevalent and adored around these parts. This was a caramel sugar flavored ice cream with small pieces of sponge candy throughout with caramelized sugar swirls. This wasn’t my favorite flavor, but that didn’t stop me from eating my entire portion of it.
Queen of Hearts
Dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry swirls and fudge filled milk chocolate hearts. I’m not huge on chocolate ice cream but many taste-testers went crazy for this! If you are a chocolate fan, particularly of very rich dark chocolate, this will be your cup of tea.
I’d have to say this one was my second favorite flavor of the day. This was one of Perry’s all-natural flavors with a smooth black cherry ice cream base. Because it is all natural it contains no artificial flavors or colors and I definitely thought it tasted a lot smoother than the other flavors.
Last but not least in the taste testing was the party sandwich,. At this point, I was starting to feel like I overdosed on ice cream (probably because I did) and was only able to eat a few bites. If I had been given this first I would have been guaranteed to inhale it…it was so good! I was never crazy about the traditional ice cream sandwiches we all ate as kids back in the day because of the chocolate wafer cookie. This vanilla wafer was right up my alley and made this taste similar to Funetti cake, which everyone who reads my blog knows I am slightly obsessed with. The sprinkles throughout the ice cream inside definitely made this fun to eat! What can I say? I’m a kid at heart.
Lastly, we had the option of going into their freezer where they store all of the ice cream. I don’t think there was anyone who passed on the opportunity even though it was negative 20 degrees in there!
All in all, it was a great experience.