Jeni’s Ice Cream, my current favorite purveyor of frozen dairy confections, has outdone themselves with their “spring 2017 collection.” Beyond the palette-extending selection of flavors, Jeni Britton Bauer has done a brilliant number to extend and elevate the very idea of how ice cream can be packaged and sold.
As a collection.
It follows logically. High-end food, like most fashion, is seasonal: some ingredients are better at different times of year, and that affects menus and availability. Jeni’s takes this a step further by applying the same conceptual layer at which even mid-level fashion brands excel: quoting from across art forms to derive a loftier lineage for their aesthetic ideas.
Further, for a series of flavors that might be considered quirky or unconventional at first glance, the conceptual statement of purpose (which name-checks Virginia Woolf and Tilda Swinton) elevates these flavors to being necessarily adventurous in a contemporary social context. While none of these flavors are Filipino, I know well what it means to live on the fringes of others’ comfort levels with food. And it’s why I value endeavors that play with the tension of comfort (in the guise of a favorite dessert) and discomfort (a range of esoteric flavors) at the highest levels of quality.
This year, with our spring 2017 collection, we’re asking questions about openness and community. What does it take to befriend a stranger? We’re calling this collection We’re Not From Here. You Belong Here. These flavors may sound unfamiliar on the outside, but are meant to be extraordinarily (or ordinarily) familiar on the inside to an American palate.
I love love love ice cream. (There is even a category of this oft-neglected blog called (with broad intent) “ice cream for everyone.”) Throughout my adult life, I maintained a reputation for keeping at least a half-dozen flavors of ice cream on hand at all times. I have never denied ice cream when it was offered to me because I was afraid that it would not be offered to me again.
And with this statement – this collection – Jeni’s has inspired in me for the first time a desire for a specific experience of ice cream. And they have given me an aesthetic framework through which to enjoy and critique them.
I can’t wait to try them all (especially genmaicha & marshmallows – two things I can’t resist are green tea ice cream and Rice Krispies treats).
And I can’t wait to see what fall brings.