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What’s This Magnum Crap? Where’s the Haagen-Dazs?

May 22, 2012

Magnum Ice Cream Bar
(Photo by craigmdennis)

Prior to last year, if you craved an ice cream treat in Vancouver, whether you were at the beach or a hockey game, you could count on finding a Haagen-Dazs bar at the nearest concession. Last year, however, Magnum entered the North American market. And sadly, almost overnight, Magnum has become the most widely available ice cream bar in Vancouver. I was hoping this was a passing fad, but more and more places are solely selling Magnum. Why’s this a big deal?

The images of Magnum bars looked pretty good, so I tried one at the beach – not that I had any choice, it was the only “premium” ice cream bar available, Haagen-Dazs was suddenly nowhere to be found. Yuck, what a difference. It was cloyingly sweet and tasted like, well,  low quality ice cream. The Haagen-Dazs bars taste infinitely superior. And it makes sense that they would, check out how the ingredient labels compare:

Haagen-Dazs Vanilla & Almond:

VANILLA ICE CREAM: CREAM, SKIM MILK, SUGAR, EGG YOLKS, VANILLA EXTRACT. MILK CHOCOLATE AND VEGETABLE OIL COATING WITH ALMONDS: MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, WHOLE MILK POWDER, CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, SOY LECITHIN, VANILLA EXTRACT), ALMONDS ROASTED IN VEGETABLE OIL (ALMONDS, SAFFLOWER OIL), COCONUT OIL.

Sure, on a paleo/primal diet these are hardly exemplary ingredients. But you know what, as an occasional cheat, you could do a whole lot worse. The worst offenders other than the sugar are probably the soy lecithin (which is also found in many dark chocolates), vegetable oil, and the skim milk.

Magnum Almond:

ICE CREAM: MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, WHEY, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, LOCUST BEAN GUM, VANILLA BEAN SPECKS, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL FLAVOR, CARAMEL COLOR, ANNATTO (COLOR). BELGIAN MILK CHOCOLATE COATING WITH ALMONDS: SUGAR, COCOA BUTTER, ALMONDS, SKIM MILK, CHOCOLATE LIQUOR, MILK FAT, SOY LECITHIN (EMULSIFIER), PGPR (EMULSIFIER), NATURAL FLAVOR.

Notice the difference? Why do we need all that bolded stuff? All those gums and emulsifiers? Natural flavor? Yeah right.

As far for the sweetness, even though the Magnum bar is smaller, it contains more sugar:

Haagen-Dazs Vanilla & Almond Bar (87g): 20g of sugar.

Magnum Almond Bar (79g): 22g of sugar.

I had never even heard of Magnum before last year, but apparently it’s been big since 1989 everywhere but here in North America – in fact, it’s sold in 40 countries. Magnum is owned by Unilever and is known for its huge marketing budget including celebrity endorsements, social media presence and tons of advertising. What’s sad is that the marketing has worked so well – Magnum is the world’s top-selling ice cream bar. Seriously, though. People really need to get over the “fancy” gold wrapper and the fact that the box the bars come in have rounded edges. People keep going on about how the packaging is much more “high-end and luxurious” than that of Haagen-Dazs. Really? You’re not eating the packaging, people.

When you do Google how Magnum stacks up flavor-wise compared to Haagen-Dazs, the truth comes out. The general consensus is that Magnum is the poor man’s Haagen-Dazs (even though they’re both priced as premium ice cream bars). Consumers have commented that the outer chocolate layer is less thick, and that the ice cream is lower quality and less creamy. It’s been described as “surprisingly mediocre”.  I would consider that a compliment.

If people want to eat crap, that’s their choice. Buy why is Magnum now the only option available at all these various public spaces, especially BC parks? Magnum swoops in, undercuts Haagen-Dazs, and that’s it, end of story? There’s no regard for the quality of the product – health or flavor-wise?  Why am I not surprised…

Have you noticed the Magnum invasion? Have you tried Magnum ice cream bars? What are your thoughts?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nina May 23, 2012 at 9:01 AM

What a timely post! I was in Europe this spring, and towards the end of my stay I made it a point to try a Magnum bar since they are everywhere there and their introduction to the North American market has been made to be such a big deal. I grew up eating the Haagen-Dazs bars and wanted to see how Magnum compared.
THEY DON’T. Haagen-Dazs is so superior. I’ve been home for a few days and I got a Haagen-Dazs bar yesterday to eat the real thing rather than replace it with less than mediocre crud.
You can definitely taste that there’s more processed crap in it. The ice cream has a less prominent, faker vanilla flavor and a less than natural consistency. The taste of the chocolate wasnt horrible (that might just be the chocolate addict in me…) but way the chocolate melts is strange (it melts oddly thin as soon as it hits your mouth).
So over-hyped. Never again.

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[email protected] May 23, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Just goes to show how much of a difference marketing dollars make in terms of hype and popularity. I completely agree with your description of what the Magnum bar tasted like. I’d rather not eat ice cream than eat a Magnum bar.

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Holly February 22, 2013 at 2:35 AM

This is such a great post! I wanted to try the Magnum bar because it DID look pretty luxurious. However after reading this post, I decided to just forget about the Magnum ones and continue with the Haagen-Dazs bars. Thank you for uploading this post!

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[email protected] February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

No problem, and yah, you’re not missing out!

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Lynn March 2, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Totally agree. I was shocked the first time I ate one. Belgian chocolate wrapped around regular supermarket brand ice cream.

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[email protected] March 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM

Shocked and dismayed…

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Tad March 18, 2014 at 5:16 PM

Even the chocolate is bad. I’m actually throwing away my remaining two bars rather than eat them.

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