on tillamook vanilla bean ice cream part 3: emails and taste tests

THIS IS PART 3 of several articles about Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream. It recounts some of my email conversations with the company and new taste tests for the new recipe. My initial correspondence with Tillamook can be found in the second part of this series of essays on brand’s changing their packaging—towards which I am generally neutral—and their recipes—towards which my response may run the gamut of emotions and opinion.

This earlier post (“what do earl grey tea, vanilla bean ice cream, and dharma & greg have in common?”) also addressed other products, notably my faverave tea, Tazo’s Earl Grey, which is no longer my fave—of which I am now in search of a replacement. So, interested parties should find the earlier essay and read my letter of complaint before proceeding.

Following my email dated April 27, 2014, I received a prompt reply on April 29, 2014. And a good reply: the Tillamook representative, Ms. Callie O’ Sullivan (could she sound more Irish?) took the time both acknowledge the change in their ice cream’s making to explaining what the change had been! So, below lease find Ms. O’ Sullivan’s email to me and my email to Ms. O’ Sullivan . . .

Hi Neal,

Thank you for your email! I’m so sorry to hear that you’re disappointed with our Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. As a company, we’re dedicated to making the highest-quality dairy products in the most natural way possible.

We recently reviewed our ice cream product line and removed some artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners from several of our flavors. For Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, this means that we removed the artificial vanillin from the ingredients. All other ingredients remained the same.

Although we’ve changed to a more natural ingredient list, Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream should still taste just as good, and I’m sorry to hear that you no longer enjoy it. Please know that I will be sharing this information with our Product Development team, to let them know you prefer the original recipe.

If you would like to provide us with your mailing address, I will follow up shortly in the mail with a replacement coupon for you to either purchase another flavor or give Vanilla Bean another shot.

Thanks again for letting us know about your experience; I hope your next purchase delivers the quality you have come to expect from the Tillamook brand.


Callie O’ Sullivan, Consumer Loyalty Team

This is the packaging for the original recipe for Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with the artificial vanilla flavoring. Note the distinctive blue border with the cow’s head at the top and bottle of milk below it. This product is listed as “Tillamook (1)” in the taste test below.

I replied as promptly on April 30, 2014; here is my email to Ms. O’ Sullivan:

Ms. O’ Sullivan,

Thanks for your response to my email. My apologies for my own less than timely response to your email below; I am in the process of moving and my time is taken up with packing, etc.

While I have to applaud Tillamook for removing artificial ingredients from its ice cream, I still have to mourn the loss of the very best vanilla bean ice cream on the market . . .

As per your suggestion, I have included my mailing address. Please send me the coupon and I will give your Vanilla Bean another taste test. In fact, I will do a “taste test” with Tillamook and Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, and Häagen-Dazs!

Thanks again!

Neal Umphred

This is the packaging for the new “all natural” recipe for Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Note the more minimalist design: no blue border, no cow, and no milk. Just the flowers and pods of the bean plant. This is listed as “Tillamook (2)” in the taste test below.

Taste Test results

So the next round will be the taste-test pitting Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream against Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla, Breyers Vanilla Bean, and Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean! I actually did the taste test in June and here are the results. Note that I started with Tillamook’s earlier vanilla bean recipe with the artificial ingredient (‘1’ below), giving it a score of 10 against which to base the other.

Tillamook Vanilla Bean (1)     10
Tillamook Vanilla Bean (2)       5
Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla                  4
Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean        4
Breyers Vanilla Bean                   1

This is NOT a quality evaluation! This is my personal response to these products and the grades are relative.

Tillamook is NOT five times better than Breyers, period! But Tillamook tastes MORE than five times better than Breyers to me!


October now and I have adjusted to the new Tillamook recipe (2) to the pint that I barely recall the original (1). So I did another taste test leaving the original recipe as the benchmark and assigning it a value of 10:

Tillamook Vanilla Bean (1)      10
Tillamook Vanilla Bean (2)       7
Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla                  4
Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean        4
Breyers Vanilla Bean                   1

If I were to do the test without Tillamook (1), then (2) would become the benchmark and get a 10! To balance the whole affair, I would probably raise the other’s each a notch. I know that’s mathematically unfair, but it’s my taste and it’s my website and as Ol’ Blue Eyes once said, “That’s life!” (Hennah?)

So, it seems that Ms. O’Sullivan was correct: the new Tillamook Vanilla Bean Ice Cream tastes fanbloodytastic! (And, needless to say, there is a quart of it in my freezer for today’s dessert . . .)

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of Emmy Rossum. We have been watching Shameless and its impressive cast, but we are both especially enjoying William Macy and Emmy Rossum. So I thought a picture of Ms R would be more interesting as a header than a picture of  Tillamook van delivering ice cream.



Comments, suggestions, additions, and arguments welcome!