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Taste-Testing "Scoop Shop Only" Flavors

There are few reasons why you should pay five bucks for a small (one scoop) serving of ice cream at a Ben & Jerry's scoop shop in Houston when you can buy four times the amount of the same flavor for significantly less money at a local grocery store.

Unless, of course, you're seeking to sample one of brand's (usually) limited edition flavors only available in its brick and mortar stores.

As of press time, the Kirby Ben & Jerry's scoop shop offered several select flavors including, two from the new "SNL" series, "Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch" and "Lazy Sunday" as well as a smattering of (non-sketch comedy show themed) varieties such as Coconut Seven Layer Bar, Salted Caramel Blondie, and Butter Pecan.

Despite the fact that the average age of a Ben & Jerry's scooper at this location is approximately 16, it's all sweetness and no teenage sullenness when it comes to service. One particular employee offered to split a single scoop into two different flavors, a kind and welcome gesture if you want to maximize your "scoop shop only" flavor sampling experience.

The coupling of one mini-scoop of Coconut Seven Layer Bar and one mini-scoop of Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch certainly made an pretty picture. The slightly sunny hue of former contrasted appealingly with the darker cocoa color of the later and each variegated mound showcased streaks of nubs of different mix-ins and syrups.

Unfortunately, the taste profiles were less of a perfect match. The coconut ice cream boasted a deep sweet buttery flavor, large, crunchy chunks of graham crackers, and wide ripples of butterscotch and fudge. An ice cream, indeed, "swirled to seventh heaven." Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch wasn't quite a catastrophe, saved perhaps by the abundance of almonds coated in thick fudge, but the ice cream was saccharine and devoid of real cocoa flavor.

The verdict: Gilly's Catastrophic Crunch is best enjoyed via a small spoonful (two samples are gratis at Ben & Jerry's) while Coconut Seven Layer Bar might be worth a hand-packed pint.

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Joanna O'Leary