Growing up, my mother, being a prudent shopper, generally went for the bargains. The exception was ice cream. My father was born and raised in Philadelphia and he had his priorities. All ice cream had to be Breyer's.
So my taste memory of what ice cream ought to taste like has been and always will be what Breyer's tasted like in the sixties. In the last few years though, I've wandered away from Breyer's. My formerly strong adherence to that ice cream is now tattered and torn. It's not because my ice cream preferences have changed. Quite the contrary, I still prefer vanilla ice cream made from cream, milk, sugar and chopped up vanilla beans (Blue Bell Brown Rim for those who wish to try some). Rather, it's because Breyer's has changed. Formerly owned by Kraft, a large food conglomerate, they have passed to Good Humor, which is owned by Unilever, a large conglomerate. Kraft had recognized that the appeal of Breyer's lay in nostalgia and perceived quality. Unilever has added stabilizers, reduced package size and swapped out ingredients. Presumably in an effort to stay current and to modernize the brand.
In their advertising, Breyer's had made an explicit promise to be all natural and to be of high quality. The Breyer's family had stood behind that guarantee from 1866 to when they sold it in 1926. The successor ownership was careful to retain the pledge until the sale to Unilever in 1993. Today the Pledge of Purity has been modified to cover only the ice cream itself (not any mix ins) and only on certain boxes. The carton size has been reduced from 1/2 gallon to 1 and a half quarts. I am almost certain that they are incorporating more air into the mixture as well. It seems a lot lighter than it used to.
I don't buy Breyers much. When I buy ice cream, it's generally to relive my childhood. Breyer's ice cream no longer takes me there. The Mint Chocolate Chip (the favourite of both my father and myself) isn't especially minty and the chocolate chips are cheaper in quality. Today, I buy Haagen Dazs. But it's heavier and they also use unique ingredients. For vanilla, we go with Blue Bell Brown Rim. Or we just make the ice cream ourselves.
I didn't change. My ice cream changed. And that change was not for the better.
Addendum: Both Sally and I adore this. It is unbelievably good. But it's not showing up on their website anymore so it may have been discontinued......