Do you remember how big half-gallon ice cream containers used to be? I bet you don’t because you haven’t seen one for a long time. But Costco’s Kirkland ice cream is still sold in full half-gallons and they look huge. Here is a photo of one beside a typical “half-gallon,” in this case the Target brand, which is 25% less at only 1.5 quarts instead of 2. The size for most brands dropped to 1.75 quarts in 2006, then to 1.5 quarts in 2008. Someday, I suspect, you will hold the container in one hand and eat out of it with a wooden spoon (referring to Dixie Cups for you younger readers). One commentator on the Internet said they are waiting for the carton of a dozen eggs to become 10, advertized as light, with less fat and cholesterol.
The question of volume may be moot, anyway. All ice cream has air whipped into it for texture (just notice the tiny bubbles as it melts), but the amount can vary tremendously, way beyond what is needed. Ben & Jerry’s is reported to contain 12% air, while Breyers (No longer made in Philadelphia. The original company is long gone and only the brand remains.) reportedly contains 50% air. This is not on the label.
(Breyers is a sad story. Once considered the best of the best, advertised as made with only natural ingredients, as we could see by the black specks of real vanilla bean, it no longer even qualifies as “ice cream.” It can only call itself a “frozen dairy desert.” See for yourself on the carton.)
Also the fat content can vary. Inevitably, the better a brand tastes, the more fat it contains. This is a handy guide when buying a brand you have never tasted before. Assuming the serving size is the same for all brands, a serving of the Target ice cream provides 11% of our daily recommended fat while the Costco brand, which is to die for, the best plain vanilla I have ever tasted, provides 29%. Of course it tastes good.
Comparing value in ice cream brands involves more than the volume, but eliminating ice cream altogether is not an option for most of us. Just be aware of the factors and recognize when you are being deceived. If your choice is worth it to you, stick with it.