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Grey Poupon Ice Cream: Dijon Disaster or Vinegary Victory?

Elyse is a writer and editor. She enjoys traveling, reading, writing and obsessing over her dog, Copper.

Grey Poupon ice cream

Grey Poupon ice cream

Mustard Ice Cream?

I would say that success in advertising can be measured in more ways than simply sales numbers, and nothing confirms this more than the reign of Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard. Perhaps you wouldn’t expect such a product to be so popular, particularly in the United States where 63% of the population names ketchup as their condiment of choice. Grey Poupon, however, struck gold with a marketing strategy that launched it firmly into public consciousness and confirmed its longevity as a grocery store staple.

But wait, there’s more.

Fans of the brand today no longer have to contain their adoration of the stuff to their spreads and vinegarettes. Grey Poupon recently teamed up with New York–based ice cream brand, Van Leeuwen, to bring their signature flavor to the freezer section in a limited-edition flavor. The collaboration has evoked more than a little ire online, with much speculation over whether it would be worth the purchase. Is this misguided mustard mayhem? An ill-considered creamy catastrophe? A defiant sampler of new foods, I decided to pick up a pint to see for myself.

But First, Some Background

Dijon, as a mustard variety, originated, unsurprisingly, in Dijon, France. Grey Poupon did as well. Maurice Grey was a tradesman that developed a Dijon mustard machine. He received a Royal Appointment for increasing the speed of the production of mustard, which I guess was a problem at the time? Regardless of this significant contribution to France, Grey had some trouble funding his endeavors.

Entrer Auguste Poupon, another mustard manufacturer, who teamed up with Grey to make both of their Dijon dreams come true. The pair developed their first mustard product in 1866, and the rest is history.

Well, not really. The brand changed hands through several different companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (which later became Nabisco) before finding its current home in Kraft Foods in 1999. Grey Poupon, however, had been a household name for around a decade by this time, namely due to a single commercial.

How It Became a Household Name

The year was 1981 and Americans were crazy for Indiana Jones and parachute pants, and “enjoying the finer thing in life.” Grey Poupon, showed them the way in a well-targeted, now-famous commercial. In case you missed it somehow, I've included the video above.

The commercial has been parodied countless times since and the name has come to be synonymous, if only jokingly, with luxury. It’s been referenced in a wide variety of films and television and even made an appearance in a Nora Ephron novel. It’s music, though, that has really cemented Grey Poupon’s brand in the public consciousness.

Aerosmith used it as an object of scorn in “Eat the Rich,” where he invites the titular population to shove Grey Poupon in places it wasn’t intended. Brooklyn hip-hop group Das EFX took a more positive approach by using it as a symbol of wealth in 1992’s “East Coast.”

In fact, hip hop and rap lyricists were probably single-handedly responsible for carrying on Grey Poupon’s advertising campaign long after it officially ended in 1997. It’s easy to rhyme with and heavily conflated with themes of status and luxury. A Vox article found that Grey Poupon has been referenced in hip-hop songs nearly every year from 1992 to 2016 (the year of the article’s publication), with a notable spike in 2007.

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Grey Poupon Wine

Grey Poupon has used this enduring ubiquity to its advantage, even expanding out to non-mustard products. In 2020, in fact, Grey Poupon released a wine made with its mustard seeds, a white it calls “La Moutarde Vin.” There are literal mustard seeds in the bottle, and it sold out in just one day: a testament to what a desperate time lockdown was. I will not be trying La Moutard Vin. Not today, anyway.

Grey Poupon Ice Cream

So let’s get back to the aforementioned collaboration between Grey Poupon and Van Leeuwen. The ice cream company’s website offers no real explanation for the pairing, but their other limited-time flavors, such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and a Popeye-inspired Spinach, show a definite lean to the eclectic. Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzel ice cream, according to the carton, does in fact contain dijon mustard, as evidenced by an ingredients list that includes mustard seed, vinegar, and white wine. A note from the owners, Ben, Pete, and Laura, comments that “Grey Poupon elevates any meal to something worth savoring, so why not ice cream?”

Why not, indeed.

grey-poupon-ice-cream-dijon-disaster-or-vinegary-victory

My Review

Yes, we’ve finally reached the part in the show where I try the stuff and report it back to you, the sad, singular person that read this far. Congratulations, the wait is over. Well done, good and faithful reader.

Appearance

Upon opening the pint container, I’m met with a fairly bland picture. Just from appearances, I might assume it to be French vanilla with a caramel swirl. Spooning into it a bit, I can see that there are some chunks of pretzel, but their texture is soft and not overly appealing. It doesn’t have much of a scent, and I’m not sure what to make of that.

First Spoonful

It’s hard to place the flavor. It’s a little weird. Not weird enough to be distinctive, but too weird to be immediately pleasant. I’m looking at the carton again and realizing I missed the description. It says the flavor is “an unexpected yet delightful blend of sweet ice cream, honey-dijon swirl, and salted pretzels.

Honey-dijon swirl. Oh.

See, that changes things a bit for me. Honey-dijon is not the variety of mustard I think of when I see the name Grey Poupon, and therefore my expectations are a bit different. Do I also feel misled? I think I might feel a little misled.

Second Spoonful

Yup, there’s the honey. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the flavor is mostly honey. There’s a bit of a mustardy profile (amateur food critic vocabulary notwithstanding) but, again, not enough to be really identifiable. It doesn’t improve the flavor, I can say that. And I was right about the pretzels. Soggy pretzels are disappointing in snack form.

The Verdict

Flavor-wise, it’s not bad. However, it’s not good. I can eat it, and I will because ice cream does not go to waste in this house, but I probably won’t miss this flavor when it goes out of stock. It’s also worth noting that the flavor is not consistent with what the buyer expects from the Grey Poupon brand. They certainly tried hard to make it more palatable in ice cream form, but I think I would be less disappointed with true dijon flavor even if it were horrendous.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Elyse Maupin-Thomas

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