Death by Ben & Jerry's: A Malnutritional Query

A colleague and I were discussing the possibility of having an afternoon ice cream snack. He said he’d love to but that “that crap’s got like a jillion calories”.

“C’mon”, I said.

“No, really there’s like 4000 calories in a Ben & Jerry pint!”

Well, this guy is full of misinformation, so I checked the Ben & Jerry’s site and of course he’s wrong, but to be (extremely) generous, he’s in the ballpark. Their site nutriotional guide lists the ice creams at 240 - 380* calories at the extremes, for a 1/2 cup serving. With 2 cups in a pint, that puts us at 960 - 1520 calories per 1 pint serving. So we say, “Jeez, that’s almost a full days calories right there.” Then he recommends to me to go on a Ben & Jerry’s only diet. I reply that it would probably kill me, or at least my teeth would drop straight out.

So, what would happen if a person went on a Ben & Jerry’s only diet. Specifically, what if a male, aged 25, at 5’8" and 150 lbs, started today only eating Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge, 1 pint per day? Would he die? From what? It’s probably about enough calories to sustain a person for a while.

Since I’m feeling generous, let’s give our hypothetical person a cup of water to wash this down with. And just so you don’t have to do the digging, here’s what B&J list as the nutriotional information on this flavor (per pint):

Calories: 1200
Calories from Fat: 600
Total Fat: 68 grams
Saturated Fat: 40 grams
Cholesterol: 280 milligrams
Sodium: 460 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 132 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Sugars: 416 grams
Protein: 64 grams
240% of daily vitamin A
0% of daily vitamin C
128% of daily Calcium
96% of daily Iron

That’s all that’s listed. Would our test subject survive? What ill effects would he suffer? If he didn’t survive, what would be the most likely causes of his demise? And how long would it take?

*Island Paradise[sup]TM[/sup], Pistachio Pistachio[sup]TM[/sup] and Kaberry Kaboom[sup]TM[/sup] are all at the “healthy” end of the scale. Peanut Butter Cup is the heavyweight and doesn’t carry the nice little [sup]TM[/sup] symbol.

Are vitamin supplements allowed? If not, I can see scurvy in our subject’s future.

I’m only allowing what’s in the carton (no fair eating the packaging) and the cup of plain water to wash it down with. And I think I’m being a prince by allowing the water.

Dehydration. See Cecil on living by bread alone.

Yep, dehydration would be your first problem.

Then the utter malnutrition if you kept it up.

Variety is the spice of life. And no, that doesn’t mean a different flavor every day there, wise guy.

Well, yer bones and yer blood would be fine, but yes, definitely, yer teeth will fall out from scurvy.

The dehydration or kidney failure will probably kill you before the scurvy does, however.

You might consider using Cherry Garcia flavor. It probably has a tad of Vitamin C.


The main reason I allowed the cup of water was to (possibly) stave off the dehydration. One reason I chose the flavor I did was to keep any pesky protein (via nuts) or other nutrients (via fruits: Chunky Monkey was a candidate). So we tried for the least nutritional of the bunch.

Can we be sure that the water plus liquid content of the ice cream wouldn’t stave off the dehydration?

(Gratuitous smilies at the request of my daughter – sorry)
:stuck_out_tongue: :rolleyes: :confused:

Hmmm… assuming he’s allowed water and a good vitamin/mineral supplement, and a fiber supplement (to prevent constipation), I think he’d be ok.

I heard (sorry, no cite) of someone trying something like this with some fast food burgers, and he was apparently healthy and had lost some bodyfat after several months.

Yes, we can be quite sure. Even putting aside the dehydrating efects of the dairy products in the ice cream, you’re only allowing your guinea pig one cup of water per day. Nobody will love long on one cup of water per day.


That’s a lovely slip you’re wearing this evening, Dr. Freud. Oh, and Minty, I’d never thought of your screen name in this context before, but it’s just a couple of chocolate chips short of an ice cream flavor.

as water has 0 calories, why would you ration it? from my reading of the op you are proposing to have ben and jerrys provide all your caloric needs. water wouldn’t affect that.

try throwing in a creamsicle flavour for vitamin c every now and again. or are you only going to eat one pint of only one flavour everyday?

Hey, you try to carry on a love life with only one cup of water a day. :stuck_out_tongue:

I was just being ornery. Picture me in a futuristic chair and a nehru jacket stroking a nice white persian cat, monocle in place.

Yeeees, Mr. Bond, we shall lock you in this room and only gif you von pint of Vanilla Carmel Fudge Ben & Jerry’s and one glass of water every day until you expire. Take him away, mwah-haha!

So no extra water, no supplements, no creamsicles. If he dehydrates because of the lack of sufficient water, then that is that. How much water is the minimum needed for survival, though. Would one cup plus the liquid in the ice cream be sufficient to keep our subject alive until something more sinister claimed him?

The ice cream will dehydrate your victim, Shibb. Although there is some water in there, the amount of water you absorb in eating it is going to be more than offset by the amount of water it takes to flush out the dairy, sugar, and salt in the ice cream. End result is dehydration, which a cup (or now “a glass”) of water is not going to offset for long.

Humans can only survive for a few days without water, though the precise length of time will naturally depend on the conditions (temp and humidity) where that person is. No cites, but I don;t think one glass of water isn’t going to stretch that out more than a few days. Within a week, your victim is quite dead.

If you prefer to cheat by offering an unending supply of water, you’re talking scurvy and kidney failure, as in Cecil’s column.

Wouldn’t it be a delicious way to die?! I’d go for Phish Food though.