As respected music journalists, we get a ton of stuff for free and we are very grateful. (Please send us all the free things.) But it’s rare that we receive something as exciting as free ice cream. So when a Ben & Jerry’s representative emailed me a couple weeks ago asking if I would like to try their mysterious new music-related flavor my only reply was: “Hell yes!” (Actually, it was “Hey — yeah, we’re interested.” I tried to play it cool.)
Today, around 10:30AM EDT, a very large package arrived at my desk. Inside, was Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor. It’s called “It’s Ice…Cream,” and it’s the Vermont churner’s third collaboration with esteemed jam band Phish. Their first work together was Phish Food, a very good flavor that can probably be found at a grocery store near you. “It’s Ice…Cream” (named after the Phish song “It’s Ice“) is part of Ben & Jerry’s “Special Stash,” which means for right now it’s only available in Ben & Jerry’s stores.
It’s also available right here, at the Stereogum offices in New York City, at least for the next couple hours as we make our way through the pint that they sent us. Inside the very large package was another slightly smaller package with a dry iced pint, plus a B&J-branded spoon, a cassette tape-style USB drive featuring a recording of a Phish concert that took place in Burlington, VT, and a poster designed by Phish merch man Jim Pollock.
In honor of this momentous occasion of free ice cream in the office, a handful of of Stereogum staffers got together to give this new flavor its first tasting. Naturally, we booked a conference room and talked on Slack so we wouldn’t have to transcribe anything. Peruse our roundtable discussion below.
(This is not sponsored content. We’re honestly just really excited.)
GABRIELA TULLY CLAYMORE: Hey bitches.
JAMES RETTIG: Hey everyone. Thanks for joining. While we wait for the ice cream to soften, I had a question about your history with ice cream. What’s your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor? I like Oat Of This Swirled.
GABRIELA: My favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor is Phish Food, the classic.
MICHAEL NELSON: Who even knows what these flavors taste like?!
SCOTT LAPATINE: Americone Dream is v good.
PETER HELMAN: All I can think of at the moment is Phish Food, which is great, and Half Baked, which is also good.
JAMES: Once in college I took a picture of myself stoned with a Half Baked pint and thought it was very funny.
SCOTT: Is there a chocolate peanut butter flavor? If so that’s my favorite.
PETER: Oh I used to love this flavor called Fossil Fuel, which I think has been discontinued (sadly).
RYAN LEAS: Why isn’t there a My Morning Jacket flavor yet?
JAMES: “Flavor Graveyard” is grim.
RYAN: That’s my new Bushwick band.
GABRIELA: If Radiohead had a Ben & Jerry’s flavor it would be “Male Tears.”
SCOTT: Ben & Jerry’s led the trend of big chunks of stuff in their ice cream. Because Ben and/or Jerry had anosmia and couldn’t taste well, or something. Fun Fact.
CHRIS DEVILLE: honestly i haven’t eaten a ton of ben & jerry’s so maybe i should not be part of this roundtable.
SCOTT: Hate ice cream that doesn’t have chunks of items
CHRIS: i mostly grew up on Homemade Ice Cream from the store and Graeter’s when we went to the parlor
SCOTT: when I was a kid we only had three flavors and two of them were vanilla
JAMES: As a youth, I grew up with all kinds of ice cream
GABRIELA: This is a true story: as a child when I would wake up and discover an ice cream scooper in the sink that my parents accidentally left out, I would pick it up and yell “WHO DID THIS?!?!?!?” Because I was so angry they would eat ice cream without me
RYAN: What would Stereogum’s flavor be?
JAMES: Stereogum’s flavor would also be male tears.
SCOTT: Stereogum’s flavor is Nuts & Gum
SCOTT: Stereogum’s flavor is Sad Boy Crunch
SCOTT: Stereogum’s flavor is WHERe IS AMEN DUNES
JAMES: OK everyone we’re getting off track… Today we are here to discuss Ben & Jerry’s newest flavor. It’s also a Phish-related flavor, and in fact it was in the running as the flavor for the original Phish Food but didn’t make it. Per the package: It is a “caramel malt ice cream” with “almost toffee pieces, fudge fish, and a caramel swirl.” Without eating it, what are your immediate reactions?
GABRIELA: What’s “almost toffee” sounds bad
JAMES: *almond toffee
GABRIELA: Ohhh that sounds dank
RYAN: My immediate reaction is I don’t understand why Phish gets multiple flavors but My Morning Jacket doesn’t. Not that I support the notion of MMJ as a jam band, but still
JAMES: I actually just ate a Ben & Jerry flavor last night that had toffee pieces and it was good
PETER: what was it
JAMES: “Everything But The…”
JAMES: I thought that the Ben & Jerry’s flavor would be made by Foo Fighters, but it’s Phish again. What is it about Phish and ice cream?
RYAN: So they have Phish, Grateful Dead, who else?
JAMES: Bob Marley
GABRIELA: It’s strange that they make so many Phish flavors… it’s almost as if they are based in Vermont the most crunchy granola place on earth
RYAN: I forgot how much of a northeast liberal arts stereotype this whole thing is
SCOTT: String Cheese Incident
PETER: What would My Morning Jacket’s flavor be?
GABRIELA: My Morning (Coffee) Jacket
PETER: there’s a DMB one
GABRIELA: OF COURSE THERE IS. Typical.
RYAN: Oh right of course there is
PETER: This Is One Sweet Whirled
GABRIELA: This is the best day of work ever.
PETER: there’s Glastonberry
PETER: Bohemian Raspberry
PETER: WILLIE NELSON’S COUNTRY PEACH COBBLER
PETER: ok i’m done sorry
JAMES: OK everyone in the office is going to take a bite
JAMES: The ice cream just did a gooey hot thing when we opened it
the caramel stuck to the top
RYAN: This is far more enjoyable than Phish, the band
GABRIELA: The caramel is really, really gooey. You know when the caramel is kinda hard and frozen in an ice cream? It’s not in this one. They did a good job on the gooey to ice cream ratio. The crunchy pieces are really good. It reminds me of Heath Bar Crunch, another B&J flavor
JAMES: Yes, I 100% see the Heath Bar Crunch comparisons
GABRIELA: It is actually basically just Heath Bar Crunch for Phish fans
PETER: I like the gooeyness. Good mouthfeel
JAMES: I’m really impressed at how creamy the caramel malt ice cream is. It’s not as sweet as I would have expected
CHRIS: left #benandjerrys.
SCOTT: Is someone gonna post this Gorillaz song or are we gonna do this round table all day
JAMES: Obviously there must be 1000 pounds of sugar, but it is still somehow subtle.
PETER: The almost toffee is a highlight for me
JAMES: Ryan’s going in for a second scoop before he weighs in
JAMES: a third now
GABRIELA: I like that they continue to include the chocolate fish in the Phish ice cream. They’re soooo good.
PETER: It’s the signature!
JAMES: Gabriela just yelled “It’s honestly really good I love ice cream” and didn’t wait for her turn in the circle to grab another scoop
TOM BREIHAN: The Bob Marley flavor was really, really good, and I’m mad that I can’t find it anymore.
RYAN: It’s good because there are crunchy things within the creaminess. Ice cream is always better w crunchy things
RYAN: There aren’t actual fish in this right
PETER: No just Phish
RYAN: A fish would really ruin this
GABRIELA: No real phish were harmed in the making of this ice cream
PETER: I agree with Ryan that there’s a good texture contrast going on between the caramel and the toffee
JAMES: I would easily kill a pint of this by myself if you weren’t here
GABRIELA: I feel like it’s really good because it’s not out officially and we’re getting an exclusive preview – the ice cream is some of the creamiest I’ve had
GABRIELA: Also my doctor told me i need to stop eating dairy lmao oops
PETER: I’m OK with more Phish flavors if they are all this good
PETER: Actually what’s the second Phish flavor?
GABRIELA: YOU GUYS the reason it’s so creamy is it’s “malt”
JAMES: I sense a sort of coffee aftertaste? Does anyone get that
JAMES: I know there’s no coffee
JAMES: But like, the idea of coffee
GABRIELA: it’s like coffee heath bar crunch but better
GABRIELA: Do you guys crunch down on the choco fish or do you suck them so they melt in your mouth?
JAMES: I typically have crunched but now I wanna melt
GABRIELA: I try to let them melt but sometimes I get greedy
JAMES: Peter just made a mess
GABRIELA: Peter spilled on himself.
GABRIELA: I’m laughing so hard I almost spilled on my new red jumpsuit
JAMES: I’m actively trying the melt method
JAMES: i forgot about it and crunched by accident
JAMES: when i was trying to instagram
GABRIELA: I feel nauseous so I’m gonna stop eating it now.
PETER: I like my ice cream a little melty sometimes
JAMES: when i was little i’d let the ice cream melt into a soup and then just drink it
JAMES: Ok, one last question for the group: Do you SCREAM for this ice cream?
RYAN: My voice naturally doesn’t go much above “sarcastic mutter” but it’s very good ice cream
GABRIELA: I think that while I would scream for this ice cream I don’t stan this ice cream. The OG Phish Food remains my favorite because I love marshmallows and chocolate ice cream more than caramel ice cream.
PETER: Ryan if you need to leave the room to scream you can
JAMES: I scream
PETER: I would scream
PETER: *I do scream
This has been a Stereogum Roundtable.