It took me a long time to love mustard. I grew up in a ketchup family and always preferred mayonnaise on my sandwiches. But in the past few years, a switch flipped. I started craving that vinegary condiment, became obsessed with the stone-ground stuff, and would order anything on a menu with mustard seed. So when Van Leeuwen announced that it would be releasing a limited run of Grey Poupon ice cream, I went full sicko.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tasted one of Grey Poupon’s spin-off products—back in October, the mustard company sent a bottle of its finest mustard-infused wine to my colleague Dennis Lee and I was able to try a sip. It was perfectly fine, so inoffensive that I’ve mostly forgotten what it even tasted like and would likely pour myself a glass again if given the chance just to remember the flavor. So what I was really hoping for from this latest mustard mashup was something memorable, something packing a mustard punch that I’d be able to describe in detail for months after sampling. I was disappointed.
As described in a press release sent to The Takeout, the Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels is “An unexpected yet delightful blend of sweet ice cream, honey-dijon swirl, and salted pretzels.” It’s part of Van Leeuwen’s line of summer limited edition flavors, which also includes Campfire S’mores, Summer Peach Crisp, Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam, and Espresso Fior di Latte Chip. All of these flavors are available at Walmart until the end of the season.
A slight mustard swirl was evident at first glance, a little more brightly yellow than your typical Grey Poupon, perhaps due to the presence of honey. There were also big pretzel chunks visible beneath the surface throughout the pint that made me excited to dive in. Even the smell of the ice cream was slightly mustardy—I was prepared for a real dijon bomb.
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But the first scoop left some things to be desired. First, the mustard flavor is a little muddled and lost amidst the creaminess. According to the list of ingredients on the back of the carton, honey plays a heavy part in this flavor, perhaps in order to seamlessly bridge the tangy mustard and sweet cream. But that same honey tempers the mustard tang I was searching for, and does a bit too much to cover it up. The pretzels, while a good carrier for the mustard flavor, were too softened in the ice cream blend and had an unappealing mushiness to them. Any sort of varying texture promised by the ingredients were overly homogenized in the base, and there wasn’t much to salt to speak of.
Van Leeuwen never gives us bad ice cream. The ice cream itself is always perfectly creamy, and if what you’re looking for is a subtle balance of flavors for a nice summer treat, any one of the brand’s more “normal” offerings would make a great freezer staple. But this is not a normal ice cream.
What this ice cream needed was a little bit more of everything—if you’re telling me this is mustard ice cream, I want to be able to plop a scoop on my hot dog and barely be able to tell the difference. If you’re telling me there are salted pretzels in this ice cream, they better be crunchy, salty, and immediately identifiable as pretzels. If you’re a mustard company putting out a novelty product, I need that product to go all the way. This is not the time to be timid. I want this to be a flavor I’ll remember.