Being lactose intolerant, I miss out on ice cream, that most worshiped of treats. I’ve tried to overcome my body’s shortcomings. But even if I inject 90,000 FCCs of Lactase units between my toes (that’s 10 extra-strength Lactaid fast-act chewable tablets), what most people consider a delightful little treat still shivs me in the guts like a jealous cellmate. I haven’t had a lick of the real stuff in years, which makes me a sort of dairy-abstinent monk, self-depriving my way through this world of cones and sundaes. Am I bitter about it? A little. You would be too. Do you know the only dessert any nice restaurant serves that doesn’t include ice cream, heavy cream or whipped cream in it? Sorbet. And sorbet fucking sucks.
There are nondairy ice creams, but they universally blow, including the fancy-pants ones made by hipsters that cost a movie ticket per scoop. Yet when I saw that Ben & Jerry, those hippie saints — they deserve canonization for the miracles they’ve worked using only sugar, cream and the most unintelligible toppings around — had announced a new line of vegan ice cream made with almond milk, hope fluttered in my defective gut. If anyone could make nondairy work, it was these misunderstood geniuses, who deemed it good and right to make White Russian, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Miss Jelena’s Sweet Potato Pie flavors (among others). I searched for the vegan pints using their web app, came up with jack at local groceries, was deceived about its availability on Amazon Fresh, and nearly gave up hope. In a last-ditch effort I emailed Ben & Jerry’s directly about it. They sent me four pints.
There are four flavors: classics Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Chunky Monkey, and new creations Coffee Caramel Fudge and P.B. & Cookies. Chunky Monkey was fine, if you love bananas, which I find disgusting. P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge were delectable, made creamy by the peanut butter and the caramel, almond notes covered up by the big flavors and toppings. (If you’re reading this, thank you, Mr. Ben and Mr. Jerry, for your wonderful toppings.) The Chocolate Fudge Brownie, I noted, was “chalky, troubling.”
The biggest takeaway of the taste test was that people who can eat regular Ben & Jerry’s are snobby nutcase pricks about it. I invited my coworkers in to try the stuff with me, and they were insufferable. They could apparently feel the difference in the weight between the “real” pints and the nondairy pints. They “could walk away from it,” because it didn’t have the “addictive quality” of the real stuff. One coworker described the difference between dairy and nondairy stuff as “crack versus weed.”
I’ve decided I don’t care a lick about them or their ignominious opinions. All that matters is that those mysterious retirement-aged Vermonters keep this fake dessert coming for me. I’m eating more of a pint now at my desk as I write this, and enjoying it fine, because there’s still plenty left. My lactose-tolerant coworkers haven’t touched it.