I love Italy. I spent a few weeks there several years back and, as you might expect, the food was excellent. My only complaint would be the folks on the tour bus whining about how we were “always” having to eat pasta. However, on several occasions, I got to have gelato; if you’re ever in Italy, you should do the same.
And lately the TV has been saturated with ads from Haagen Dazs announcing their new gelato product. Now, when I think of reputable Italian food companies, the first I always think of is Haagen Dazs. The name just oozes, uh, Scandinavian or Dutch, I suppose. It’s hard to know because Haagen Dazs is an American company that adopted a faux European name to help it sell ice cream.
That marketing ploy was sensible. When you look at all the world’s cultures, the ones that obviously have the greatest need for top-notch ice cream are the ones buried under six feet of snow for much of the year. I know I love a good sundae when there’s a blizzard. (On the other hand, very few people may realize that it snows in Scandinavia, assuming they can even find the region on a map.)
So what we have is an American ice cream company pretending to be Scandinavian while expecting us to buy Italian gelato from them. I’m not entirely sure it worked. My grocery store had it on deep discount recently, so I decided to buy some. (I actually like some of their regular ice cream flavors. My arteries don’t like it so much; they’d prefer I drink a gallon of lard.) Speaking as someone who has had authentic gelato, I can tell you that this product bears no resemblance to the real thing. However, it is different from regular Haagen Dazs ice cream, mostly in that it’s as hard as a brick and I was afraid of breaking my spoon in it.
In case you weren’t aware, gelato is supposed to be softer. And if you weren’t aware of this, maybe Haagen Dazs was wise to assume ignorance among consumers. If people don’t know what the product is supposed to be like, they can’t say it falls short.
In this case, ignorance isn’t bliss. If you want bliss, go to Italy. If you can’t afford plane tickets, Talenti brand is pretty good and slightly less expensive than a hotel room.
In spite of everything, there is a bright side to all of this (sort of). No matter how questionable the company’s antics are in this country, at least its American marketing executives aren’t as outlandish as their foreign counterparts. In Germany, I once saw a Haagen Dazs billboard for a tropical flavor of some sort and they were advertising it as a taste of Africa. And the image, which took up most of the space, was of a Black person being swirled into a container of ice cream.
Dibs on the calf muscle!