The Ultimate Frozen Treat Taste Test Slideshow
Part 1: Ice Cream Sandwiches
10) Tofutti Cuties
Tofu might be better than the real thing in some applications, but not in this one. This was a near-unanimous least favorite, and the tasters agreed that there was something "very artificial-tasting" about it, and that the ice cream portion had an icy, strange consistency. Even the cookie tasted like cardboard, according to more than a few of our tasters. Not a single panelist thought that it tasted good, and the fact that it was tofu certainly didn’t help it along.
9) So Delicious Minis
"Was this supposed to be vanilla?" asked one of our panelists, and another noted that the cookie was "really doughy and soft, but not in a good way." It fell nearly completely apart in our hands, and all the tasters agreed that the ice cream had a strange artificial flavor.
8) Trader Joe’s
Our tasters found the ice cream to be a bit too sweet, icy, and artificial-tasting, and the cookie on the bland side. Some thought that it was filled with frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, and more than one panelist thought that it tasted like maple syrup. They’re certainly inexpensive, though!
7) Blue Bunny
While the flavor was deemed good if a bit "meh" and chemical-flavored, the cookie was very soft, but with good chocolate flavor that was nearly universally liked. The sweetness wasn’t overpowering, but the cookie was, "in a good way," according to a panelist. This would have ranked higher if the ice cream was as good as the cookie.
Just about all the panelists agreed that the cookie tasted a bit stale and cardboard-y, and that overall it was a bit generic. The ice cream didn’t taste like much other than sugar, and the ratio of ice cream to cookie size was off. This sandwich is squarely in the middle of the road, and a good choice for those who like their cookies firmer than usual.
5) Whole Foods
The cookie was soft and doughy with a good chocolate flavor, if a bit mushy, and most agreed that the ice cream in this one was pretty good. Some found it overly sweet, but also creamy, if "generic." Not a bad choice, but nothing special.
4) Julie's Organic
Most panelists agreed that the ice cream flavor in this one was classic and creamy, and that the texture of the cookie as a whole was very soft, which some liked and some didn’t. The cookie didn’t live up to expectations, however, and the chocolate taste was a bit dull.
3) Weight Watchers
Both the taste and texture were well-liked by our panel, who largely had no major complaints about this brand’s offering. "It tastes like a cookie filled with Cool Whip," said one taster. "It’s obviously fake, but I love it." It was clear that this was a low-fat sandwich, but that didn’t affect the flavor at all. The texture of the ice cream was a bit of an issue, though, with one taster calling it "slimy." These were also the most expensive of the lot.
2) Skinny Cow
These low-fat ice cream sandwiches have a major fan following, and with good reason: they taste good. The cookies on these round sandwiches are firm, if a bit dry and crunchy, and the whole thing doesn’t fall apart as you eat it, and barely melted over the course of the tasting. "Finally, an actual cookie!" exclaimed one panelist, and most agreed that the crunchiness was a good thing. As for the ice cream, it was clear that it was low in fat (it also had a Cool Whip thing going), but that didn’t detract from the overall flavor, as it combined nicely with the cookie into a perfectly pleasing frozen treat. If you’re looking for a lower-fat ice cream sandwich, Skinny Cow is the way to go.
1) Foodtown Store Brand
In an upset that isn’t too surprising when you think about it, the store brand won the day. Just about every supermarket chain has their own house brand of ice cream sandwich, and these are the classic ones that we grew up eating. "This is what most people think of when they think of an ice cream sandwich," one panelist wrote. "The chocolate tastes like chocolate, the vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla ice cream, and the whole thing tastes like childhood," wrote another. This was a near-universal favorite, and not just because it reminded us of our younger days. The cookie held up without falling apart, and the only complaint was that it tasted a little too sweet and melted a little too quickly. We’re not sure if there’s one company that makes all the store brands’ ice cream sandwiches, but in this case, the classic is the best.
Part 2: Fudge Pops
These ice cream bars are touted as "the good-for-you ice cream," with only 70 calories and 2 grams of fat per bar, but nearly everything about them was off-putting to our panelists, who unanimously ranked them last. "It has the texture of space food," said one tester; "chalk-olate," said another. All agreed that there wasn’t much in the way of taste (the monk fruit-based sweetener might have something to do with that), and that it was dry and had an off-putting texture.
4) Whole Foods
The flavor resembled hot chocolate or chocolate pudding, but the texture was a bit icy and the liquid it melted into was more watery than creamy. "It tastes like a put a cup of Swiss Miss into the freezer," said one panelist.
The original, this classic fell squarely in the middle of the pack. "Malty, not too fudgy, and not too sweet," said one panelist. "It tastes like frozen chocolate milk," said another, but most agreed that it was more icy and watery than creamy, and it had an "odd" after-taste. There was certainly something "classic" about the flavor, though.
2) Weight Watchers
Both the flavor and texture of this lower-calorie bar were almost universally praised, and it was light and airy without being chalky, with a classic chocolate flavor. "It tastes like chocolate ice cream, which is cool," said one panelist, and others agreed that it was very fudgy, with a pudding-like consistency as it melted. One even went as far as to deem it "what a Fudgsicle should be." With only 45 calories per bar, they’re a much better, if more expensive, choice than Enlightened.
In a major upset, our panelists preferred the bar that had no dairy in it whatsoever. The richer chocolate flavor was overwhelmingly liked, and a few panelists noted that it tasted like a great brownie. It held its shape well, had a fudgy (if not very creamy) consistency, and had our tasters returning for more. It might be surprising, but Tofutti’s chocolate fudge bar, with only 30 calories, no fat, and NutraSweet, was a clear winner.
Part 3: Fruit Pops
7) Popsicle: Cherry
The artificial flavoring was nearly overwhelming in this one, which reminded some tasters of frozen cough syrup. "The color is scary," said one panelist, and another added, "I can’t believe I thought this tasted good when I was a kid."
Price: $5.99 for box with three flavors
6) Edy’s: Grape
"I can’t get the fact that this tastes just like grape-flavored Triaminic," said one panelist, and most of the others agreed. It was overwhelmingly tart, and even though the grape flavor wasn’t incredibly artificial-tasting, we just couldn’t get behind it.
Price: $5.99 for box with three flavors
5) Popsicle: Grape
Coming in closely behind Edy’s, this one's flavor was better, but not by much. Panelists that appreciated that artificial grape flavor had no problems with this one, as it was more neutral that its Edy’s counterpart. "Not very good, but no real complaints," said one taster.
Part 3: Fruit Pops
4) Popsicle: Orange
The orange flavor in this pop was light, if a bit too bitter and acidic. It had real orange flavor (or something close to it), and most tasters found it refreshing and great for a warm day.
3) Edy’s: Tangerine
While it had more of a concentrated, artificial orange flavor than its rival, this pop was overwhelmingly preferred. "It has the sweetness that I look for in a pop," said one taster, and the flavor "popped" more (pun intended).
2) Edy’s: Cherry
With all the results in, it’s clear that Edy’s won the day over its more classic rival. These cherry pops were the best of the bunch, with a real cherry flavor (even though most tasters thought it tasted more like mixed berries than cherries, that mixed flavor was a winner). "There’s a great sweetness, almost tart. It’s berry-tastic," said one panelist.
1) Trader Joe’s: Fruit Frenzy
These bars contained three fruit flavors in one: raspberry, lemon, and strawberry, and we included them because even though they’re a different animal entirely, they were worth giving a shot. Unanimously liked, these tasted like real fruit, with the strawberry portion being the favorite. If you’re looking for a more "adult" fruit bar, this one’s for you.
Part 4: Ice Cream Bars
7) Klondike 100 Calorie
The fact that these bars are lower in calories didn’t do them any favors when compared to our other treats. All our panelists ranked them dead last. While the bar wasn't horrible, our panelists agreed that the ice cream’s yellowish hue was off-putting, and it completely melted almost immediately after being taken out of the freezer. "Tastes like fake ice cream and fake chocolate," one panelist said, and another added that it "tastes more like the Popsicle stick than the ice cream."
6) Klondike Original
Surprisingly, the classic Klondike Bar didn’t fare very well either. Several panelists called it "syrupy" and excessively sweet, with one saying "it tastes like my grandma’s house." The ice cream was also too airy for most, and the shell didn’t have much in the way of real chocolate flavor. The lack of a stick, while a good way to set it apart from the bunch, made it nearly impossible to eat.
5) Nestle Eskimo Pie
"Why is the ice cream so fluffy?" asked one panelist, but another thought that it would be great for dark chocolate lovers (most agreed that the chocolate was the best part). The ice cream was uninspired, though, and melted very quickly.
The high quality of the ice cream came through right away, and the chocolate shell was of the right thickness, if not incredibly chocolaty right off the bat (that comes around at the end). It was nicely balanced between ice cream and chocolate, but the shell was a bit too bitter for some.
"The chocolate is amazing," said one panelist, and this made a lot of sense considering that fact that Cadbury is primarily a chocolate company. The chocolate shell was thicker than most and held up nicely without disintegrating, and the airy ice cream, while not adding much to the party, complemented it nicely and was perfectly acceptable. This was also the most expensive of the bunch.
2) Magnum Mini Classic
These little ice cream bars had our tasters swooning. "The chocolate is super-rich and dark, and the vanilla ice cream tastes like gelato," said one panelist, and it was smooth and creamy, with a flavor that reminded another of cake batter. "Just about perfect," said another. All others up to this point were either lacking in chocolate, ice cream, or both, but this one nailed both components.
1) Trader Joe’s
We have another surprising win, as Trader Joe’s house brand was universally liked. The chocolate was dark and rich but not bitter (and it also happened to taste like real chocolate), and the ice cream was firm, rich, and tasted like real premium vanilla ice cream. TJ’s didn’t cut any corners with this one, and the high quality of their ingredients came through to give it the win. An added bonus? It’s also the least expensive.