This can’t be right. Gluten free flavors from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s is known for their incredibly wacky and delicious assortment of ice cream flavors. So anyone with a matured gluten free instinct probably thought like I did – that this brand was very off limits. It turns out that isn’t completely the case.
How This Happened
About a month ago my girlfriend and I ventured to a Ben & Jerry’s shop in Long Beach Island, NJ. I told the server about my allergy hoping to at least have plain vanilla soft serve in a cup. She handed me an allergy list instead. To my surprise, many flavors appeared to be gluten free, including phish food, which is what I ordered. She knew exactly how to handle my allergy as well. The scooper was washed away from everything else and then used in a totally new ice cream bucket. I was in shock and had a smile on my face bigger then the 3 year old in the window next to me with ice cream melting all over his face.
In this kind of environment and never doing any research into Ben & Jerry’s before, eating it still seemed risky. It was the last day of our weekend trip so I figured I could afford risking being sick for a few days (Mondays make me sick regardless just because it’s a Monday). Never got sick from this though. I was excited and I wanted to do some research into this and be sure this wasn’t a fluke. My research turned up some interesting stuff. Below is what I found…
The Ben & Jerry’s Gluten Free Flavors
- Butter Pecan
- Cherry Garcia
- Chocolate Fair Trade-Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl
- Chocolate Macadamia
- Chunky Monkey
- Coconut Almond Fudge Chip
- Coffee Fair Trade
- Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz
- Creme Brulee
- Mint Chocolate Chunk
- New York Super Fudge Chunk
- Orange and Cream
- Phish Food
- Triple Caramel Chunk
- Vanilla Fair Trade
- Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch
- Black Raspberry Swirl LF (Yogurt)
- Vanilla LF (Yogurt)
- Berry Berry Extraordinary (Sorbet)
- Jamaican Me Crazy (Sorbet)
- Lemonade (Sorbet)
- Mango Mango (Sorbet)
- Strawberry Kiwi (Sorbet)
Is This Real?
Wow. That is a lot of gluten free flavors just hiding in plain sight. You are probably wondering – if all of these gluten free flavors are out in the wild then why aren’t they advertised as such? You would think that Ben & Jerry’s would want to share this with the world. Well, I did some research and this is where the dream bubble gets popped with a thin needle and slowly lets out air, but not all of it.
I didn’t contact the company but instead relied on good old fashion non scientific googling and blog reading. What I found out is that some of the ingredients in some of these flavors might share a production line/assembly belt with products that contain traces of wheat. The weird thing is, they don’t even have the disclaimer on the ice cream that states “may be produced in a facility that contains wheat.” The reigning theory on why they mention none of this is that they change their ingredients and suppliers too often to adjust the product labeling all the time. That seems lazy but makes sense from a business perspective I guess. Lesson to be learned – ALWAYS read the ingredient list no matter what.
Whether all of the above is true or not, complete confidence in what we are eating isn’t just a choice or a luxury. It is a necessity. So learning all of this was a bit tough to swallow (no pun intended, or maybe it was). There are times I’m willing to risk it on products that walk the tight rope like this. In the past month since my time in LBI, I’ve had Ben & Jerry’s 3 times and not once did I get sick. I did all of this research after those 3 times. So I guess the chances are similar to going out to eat at a restaurant that serves both gluten free and non gluten free eaters. The odds are in your favor, but it is up to you if it is worth the risk. I’ll be more cautious eating Ben & Jerry’s going forward as any celiac should.
My New Mission
In researching and writing this – I’ve realized I want to research more ice cream brands. I’m taking it upon myself to hunt down the best gluten free ice cream flavors from popular brands. Look out for more instagram posts and articles regarding this mighty mission.
Disclaimer – None of this is scientific. This is all based on my own anecdotal research and experience. I am not a doctor or anything science related. These are simply my opinions as a celiac. Always read food ingredient labels with no certified GF logo on it.