Bunhill: Thin but toothless

AND STILL they come. After Baskin Robbins, Haagen-Dazs, old uncles Ben and Jerry and all, ice-cream lovers are to be faced with yet another US import, Tofutti. This one is, technically, not an ice-cream at all, since its major advantage is the total absence of the edible fats or milk solids that justify the use of the term 'ice-cream'.

Tofutti, the brain child of one David Mintz, and apparently a favourite of such luminaries as Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson, is not the first such 'frozen dessert' on the market. Walls got there first, but Tofutti is emphasising that it's frightfully healthy - 100 per cent free from dairy products, cholesterol and lactose. Yet, withal, it is 'rich, creamy and wickedly delicious'. Moreover, Mr Mintz is putting on the sort of show we have come to expect from American ice-cream makers, including a 'Tropical Beach Party' at London's Planet Hollywood.

He is entering a difficult market. Only last week, Pollards, one of the proudest names in Cornish dairy ice-cream, went under. This did not surprise Geoffrey Mulloy, the veteran chairman of the Ice Cream Federation.

'Pollards were a small regional maker. Clearly they weren't well enough financed to survive a difficult year. It's still a fact of life that ice-cream is very, very sensitive to the weather, and this year the heat came in July, just before the holiday season.'

And the taste of Tofutti? Bunhill's panel was reasonably enthusiastic about the Butter Pecan but cooler towards the Chocolate Chip, found to be a shade too sweet. 'Could be incredibly useful,' summed up one cynic, 'if you're not allowed fat . . . as long as you don't mind your teeth rotting.'

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