what do earl grey tea, vanilla bean ice cream, and “dharma & greg” have in common? (part 2: on tillamook’s vanilla bean ice cream)

The first part of this ridiculously titled trilogy (“on tazo’s earl grey tea”) dealt with the changing appearance of my favorite tea. The recent alteration in Tazo’s packaging was obvious; that the company didn’t bother to tell us that the blend within the new packaging had also been altered was unfair—yet not unexpected, given the nature of the beast that is modern business, BIG corporations or more modest enterprises. 

This second part deals with a similar situation: the changing of the packaging of my faverave ice cream . . .

We took America’s favorite ice cream flavor and filled it with loads of real crushed vanilla beans

The heading of this section is taken from the page on the Tillamook website that advertises their vanilla bean ice cream. Tillamook is a “local” dairy-based co-operative familiar to almost everyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest. It makes a variety of products, including ice cream, milk, butter, sour cream, etc.

All of their products are fine but their ice cream is exceptional. And, for this blogger, Tillamook Vanilla Bean is the best vanilla bean out there!

Or was . . .

The familiar design of the ice cream’s container that we have been buying and enjoying for years was a buttery yellow color with a blue border at the top that contained “Tillamook” in white letters. There was a distinctive cow’s head just below the company name.

The ice cream within was stone cold white with a generous helping of flecks of black vanilla beans everywhere. And the bean was the part of the taste that separated Tillamook from all of the pretenders advertising an otherwise bland vanilla ice cream as being “vanilla bean.”

Recently, Tillamook revamped the appearance of their ice cream

Back to basics: recently, Tillamook started shipping their ice cream in newly designed containers. It is still a buttery yellow color, but noticeably paler. The blue border and the cow are gone; “Tillamook” is now in dark blue letters with a two-masted ship-of-the-line above it. The new illustration is still of vanilla bean flowers and pods but without the bottle of milk.

Just seeing the new design filled me with trepidation . . .

We picked one up along with a container of the Oregon Blueberry Patch. Got home, put them in the freezer, and prepared the dinner. Dessert time and Berni and I were both afeared of opening the vanilla bean and finding that the packaging wasn’t all that had been redesigned . . .

Needless to say, our fears were justified: while not devoid of the familiar bits and pieces of bean, the ice cream had considerably fewer particles and considerably less flavor.


We finished the two—they were good, really: the vanilla bean just wasn’t THE vanilla bean that it had been. So we waited a couple of weeks and went to a different store, assuming that time and location should get us a different serving from a different batch of vanilla bean ice cream.

Bummer again!

Tillamook’s new Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was smoother, creamier than the old recipe, but otherwise unremarkable. I would no longer even consider it a REAL vanilla bean ice cream, just a tasty vanilla ice cream with a hint of the bean.

Berni and I were not pleased, so I sent am sending an email to Tillamook immediately after posting this article. It reads as so:



Regarding your recent changes in both the packaging and the recipe for your vanilla bean ice cream, I am writing to register my complaint with the latter.

I moved into Bellevue in 1988 and have resided on the east side ever since. I discovered our ice cream years ago and was delighted to taste your vanilla bean: it was the best I had tasted since the heyday of Breyers vanilla bean way back in the 1960s and ’70s!

My wife and I buy at least one container of vanilla bean a week, usually with a second flavor. When we saw the changes that you had made in the ice cream packaging, we were trepidatious: few companies only alter the wrappings without fiddling with the innards.

And you did! The “new” Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is still a fine ice cream. It’s just not a superior vanilla bean ice cream. The vanilla bean flavor is decidedly less pronounced, making for a much blander confection.

That is, Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is no longer a vanilla bean ice cream that we can rave to our friends and acquaintances about. In my case, that includes the readers of my blog.

Immediately preceding my sending this email to you, I posted a new article titled “what do earl grey tea, vanilla bean ice cream, and dharma and greg have in common (part 2: on tillamook’s vanilla bean ice cream).” I included the text of this email (“Dear Tillmook”) in the article. You are certainly welcome to read the article and to respond to it . . .

Hoping to hear from you!



Due to its being a local concern, Tillamook ice cream is priced considerably lower than many better known brands, even those of noticeably inferior taste quality. 

Get ready for the third part of this article, which deals with dharma and Dharma (and I throw in a Kate Beckinsale reference for the heck of it) . . .

Finally, tonight the Bern and I will be buying a carton of Breyers Natural Vanilla (“All Natural Ice Cream! Now 33% more real Vanilla Bean!”) and do a taste test. Of course I will let you know the outcome . . .

Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!