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Van Leeuwen Dill Pickle French Ice Cream

Updated: Mar 11

Greetings, chums (I like the term chums, it’s friendly, but it’s also a reminder that I will dump you into shark-infested waters if needed.) So as a professional reviewer (keep your snide comments to yourself) there comes a time when it’s less about seeing if a product is good and more like eating weird stuff on a dare.  So, like a child putting weird things in their mouth in an attempt to make friends in a schoolyard (actually, it works even better as an adult in the dating scene), I’m going to try Dill Pickle Ice Cream. I’m not coming into this with high hopes. Despite looking like I’m pregnant, with a brace of elephants (Jumbo and Dumbo) no less, I haven’t been craving pickles and ice cream. According to my hardly thorough research, this is caused by a small, but well documented, percentage of people having decreased salt sensitivity during pregnancy. Of course, they wouldn’t even be pregnant if they just used their head.

Now this wouldn’t be a Reckless Gastronome review if I didn’t include some court mandated infotainment (so it turns out that “bottomless brunch” means free refills on mimosas, my mistake.) I’ll cover pickles this time around and save ice cream for another article, so you have something to look forward to. I know your lives are bereft of joy without me. I’ve recently learned that there are some benighted souls (I’m not allowed to call them cretinous half-wits) that somehow made it to adulthood without learning that pickles are made from cucumbers, but you dear reader, already knew that, right? Other things can be pickled as well, such as beets, pig’s feet, muppets, et cetera, but “pickles” refer to just pickled cucumbers. Pickling (which is preserving food in vinegar or brine) has been around for more than 4,000 years, archeological evidence from Mesopotamia shows; and specifically, pickled cucumbers were invented a few hundred years after that.


Aristotle claimed they had healing effects, Cleopatra used them in her beauty regimen, and Shakespeare used them in metaphor enough that we still refer to trouble as “being in a pickle.” Pickles reportedly have health benefits. Maybe. I don’t really care. I’m not that kind of reviewer and let’s be honest, this is a review for pickle ice cream. No one is here for health concerns and it’s certainly not going to fix what’s wrong with me (I’ve finally reached a 50-50 mix of mental issues and physical ailments, perfectly balanced as all things should be.)

Normally by now I’d start my review, but It’s time for me to have an Old Man Rant (I’ve got a long grey beard, so I’m qualified.) Don’t worry though, this is more an “old man yells at cloud” scenario than a “here’s what’s wrong with Millennials and Gen Z” deal (although the whippersnappers should stay off my lawn.) Every time I review or even post something that’s let’s say “epicureanly avant-garde” or “potentially grody to the max” I get a flood of comments with “eww” or “no way” or the ever-popular barf emoji (who had pictograms becoming popular again on their new century bingo sheet?). Why are people so proud of their refusal to try new things? Why are people treating unorthodox foods like they are some major hazard? These are all FDA approved comestibles found at major retailers. Everything is perfectly safe, worst-case scenario it tastes bad, you just spit it out, and get a little tummy ache.


It’s not like I’m getting black market gyros from an unlicensed food cart underneath an overpass (again). Many of the food combinations we take for granted were once thought of as bizarre. The New York Times in 1947 described Cheeseburgers as “bizarre” but ultimately described them as “sound gastronomically”. High praise indeed. So, I implore you, dear readers, to keep an open mind and an open mouth. Not everything is going to be good (cough, cough, scorpion lollipops, cough), but occasionally you will find unexpected pleasures, and perhaps even the next new trend. It’s not like I’m asking you all to do something truly outrageous, like treating your fellow humans with dignity and respect.


So, with open mind going forward, is it a horror or a pleasure? Honestly, I’m going to say it’s pretty good, but not great. Visually, it’s a light chartreuse color, with darker green chunks of pickle and ribbons of pickle syrup for lack of a better term. If for some ungodly reason I wanted to paint my house that color, I’d look on the color palette for “seasick eggshell.” Appetizing, I know, but in for a penny in for a pound. There is a slight cognitive dissonance with the sweet ice cream and the tangy but not sour pickles, but it works. Perhaps even “gastronomically sound” if you think of it like taking a bite of a Big Mac and then a gulp of a milkshake. The dill part of the dill pickle isn’t very prominent, or you could say it’s not a big “dill”, yes, let me hear your disdain! I gain in power each time someone groans at my jokes, and soon I shall be unstoppable.

The pickle chunks have a slight crunch, and the syrup swirls give an occasional zing that keeps the flavor from becoming monotonous. A big part of its success is the quality of the French ice cream (aka frozen custard) which has a higher percentage of milkfat and egg yolk solids than regular ice cream per the FDA’s classification system. It’s dramatically smoother, richer, and denser than “normal” ice cream and that allows even unconventional ingredients to reach greater heights than they would normally. I think it’s good enough that everyone should at least try it, I’m not just gherkin your chain!


Found exclusively at Walmart


By Martin Peyruc