Despite their advertising Rita’s Ice is no longer selling frozen custard. Rita’s web-site is still advertising1 that they are using “Old Fashioned Frozen Custard”.
According to the article at Time and an announcement on Rita’s web-site, Rita’s made this change due to “the avian flu crisis” causing a shortage of eggs. I don’t know how much truth there is to this reason; as a consumer I haven’t seen a shortage of eggs or much of an increase in egg prices. I imagine that Rita’s uses so many eggs for their custard products that they wouldn’t see as much of a change in price and availability than consumers would.
The soft-serve ice cream that is being sold is nothing like the Rita’s custard we have grown to love. This replacement has a drastically different flavor and consistency. Even their Blendini, Misto and Gelati products are impacted by this change.
Before writing this article I went to my local Rita’s to see if they improved since the introduction several months ago. The product lacked proper structure and was falling off of the cone. It contained ice crystals that were distracting and actually hurt to lick. I saw the carton that contains the unfrozen liquid product as they were pouring it into the machine. It isn’t even made by Rita’s; the brand reminded me of what I have seen at a carnival.
If there is truth to a shortage and high cost of eggs, than that is fine, but Rita’s established a standard that the replacement product is not fulfilling. It is obviously a cheap alternative and Rita’s doesn’t have the decency to honestly advertise what they are actually selling or reduce the price consumers pay at the window for this inferior product.
2017 Update – Many locations have returned to Rita’s original custard, however there are location that have remained on the soft-serve ice cream.