List of the most delicious ice cream flavors, ranked by eaters everywhere. Whether you like the fancy flavors like Ben & Jerry’s or the classic varieties like plain old vanilla and chocolate, the best ice cream flavors are certainly a matter of taste, and a delicious dilemma as well. Almost everyone loves ice cream, especially on a hot day, but one thing we can’t seem to agree on is which flavor is best.
Vote: The Best Ice Cream Toppings
Ice cream dates back to the Persian Empire where grape juice was poured over snow and enjoyed. Fast forward a few thousand years and the same basic idea continues except with frozen flavored dairy. Initially, ice cream was pretty vanilla, with many varieties limited to one flavor, often fruit.
Thankfully, recently ice cream has evolved to include advanced flavorings like that of chocolate chip cookie dough, rocky road and strawberry cheesecake. Ice cream has also become quite gourmet, especially in New England, with the likes of Edy’s, Ben & Jerry’s and even Starbucks getting into the industry.
Though ice cream has come a long way since the grape juice and snow days, classic flavors still remain available to those who enjoy them. So what’s the best ice cream flavor on the market? That’s up to you to decide. Tell us ice cream lovers, which is the best? Add your list of the best ice cream varieties and vote for your favorite frozen flavors below!
- The Healthiest Frozen Yogurt, from Plain Vanilla to Caramel Praline Crunch
- The Cleanest Ingredient Lists
- Organic Frozen Yogurt
- Low Sugar, Low Calorie, High Protein Frozen Yogurt
- Best Frozen Yogurt for Mental Health
- More Interesting Articles to Read
- Best frozen yogurt and ice cream
- Best Ice Cream in Athens, Attica
- All about the flavors
- How Yasso compares to other options
- Where to get it
- The Top 4 Health Benefits of Ice Cream
- Benefits of Ice Cream. It’s True!
- Is Ice Cream Good for You? Nutrition Facts and More
- Can Ice Cream Be Healthy?
- Who makes the best cookies-and-cream ice cream in the U.S.? We scooped up 15 top brands to find out.
- The scoop on ice cream for private brands
The Healthiest Frozen Yogurt, from Plain Vanilla to Caramel Praline Crunch
– Written by Crystal Schlegelmilch on May 1st 2015
We already covered some healthy options in our post about the best store bought ice creams, but there will enough hot summer days to justify another post about healthy frozen treats. This time we’re looking at the favorite frozen dessert of the health conscious crowd: frozen yogurt. But made from yogurt or not, frozen yogurt isn’t always as healthy as you’d expect.
In fact, some of the worst choices contain as much as 26 grams of sugar for a 1/2 cup serving. Others contain artificial flavors and food colors, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and other less-than-desirable ingredients.
Don’t worry, though. Even if you don’t want to make frozen yogurt yourself, there are some better choices at the supermarket. Here are some worthy contestants for the title of healthiest frozen yogurt:
The Cleanest Ingredient Lists
From the many brands we scouted, Häagen-Dazs and Blue Bunny frozen yogurt have the fewest additives:
Häagen-Dazs Vanilla: skim milk (lactose reduced), corn syrup, sugar, egg yolks, cream, natural flavor, active yogurt cultures
Häagen-Dazs Frozen Yogurt
- no artificial ingredients
- 9 grams of protein per serving
- 170 calories, 21 grams of sugar per serving
- only 3 flavors
Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean: milk, skim milk, sugar, cream, inulin, egg yolks, vanilla with ground vanilla beans, carob bean gum, cultures
Blue Bunny Frozen Yogurt
- just 100 calories per serving
- 16 grams of sugar per serving (relatively low in comparison to other brands)
- only 4 grams of protein
Blue Bunny has a variety of tempting flavors, such as Bordeaux Cherry Chocolate, White Mint Chocolate Chunk, and Caramel Praline Crunch. As you might expect, these flavors have more sugar than the plain vanilla fro-yo, so keep an eye out if you’re watching your sugar intake.
Organic Frozen Yogurt
If you think the healthiest frozen yogurt should be certified organic, then Stonyfield Farm’s frozen yogurts might be for you. Their regular frozen yogurts come in flavors like chocolate, creme caramel, “gotta have java”, and vanilla fudge swirl, while their Greek yogurts are available in chocolate, vanilla, blueberry, superfruits, and honey. They also sell frozen yogurt bars and strange but intriguing “frozen yogurt pearls.”
Tip: their frozen Greek yogurts have a bit more protein, 6 grams per serving, than their other frozen yogurts.
Stonyfield Organic Frozen Yogurt
- certified organic
- 100-110 calories, 6 grams of protein per serving
- a bit higher in sugar, 17-21 grams (depending on flavor)
Low Sugar, Low Calorie, High Protein Frozen Yogurt
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? But indeed, some brands manage to offer this holy trinity. Our favorite in this category is Yasso’s frozen Greek yogurt bars. They come in a huge variety of delicious flavors (sea salt caramel, anyone?) and clock in between 80-130 calories per bar depending on which flavor you choose. They also offer 5-6 grams of protein and some flavors have as little as 11 grams of sugar. Not only is the nutritional profile pretty solid, the ingredient list is not much “scarier” than other top frozen yogurt brands.
Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars
- gluten free
- 80-130 calories, 5-6 grams of protein, as little as 11 grams of sugar
- only available in bar form
Best Frozen Yogurt for Mental Health
Physical health is just one part of the equation ya’ll. If you really need a treat, we recommend checking out Ben & Jerry’s line of frozen yogurts. You can find some of your favorite ice cream flavors in frozen yogurt form, including Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, and Half Baked. Their frozen Greek yogurt, particularly the Blueberry Vanilla Graham flavor, also scored highly in numerous taste tests (e.g. The Huffington Post, POPSUGAR Food, and SparkPeople). That’s not too surprising, since they aren’t that much healthier than normal ice cream. Still, they’re absolutely worth the splurge when you need a little comfort food!
Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Yogurt
- rich and delicious flavors
- brand uses Fair Trade ingredients and dairy from cows not treated with growth hormones
- 210 calories and 21 grams of sugar per serving
We hope at least one of our recommendations for the healthiest frozen yogurt has piqued your interest. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!
Written by Crystal Schlegelmilch on May 1st 2015
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Best frozen yogurt and ice cream
Ice cream. It’s a mix of dairy ingredients, sweeteners, and flavors, often with stabilizers and emulsifiers. By federal law, it must generally be at least 10 percent milkfat by weight (8 percent with a mix-in) and weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon. Light has at least one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the full-fat version. Low-fat has 3 grams of fat or less per serving. “Premium” is a marketing term, with no federal definition. But premium ice cream tends to contain more fat and less air than others.
Frozen yogurt. It tends to have less fat and fewer calories than ice cream. Unlike regular yogurt, frozen is not subject to an official government “standard of identity.” Some frozen yogurts contain live and active bacteria (look for an “LAC” seal), which may provide health benefits.
Sherbet. It’s pasteurized, weighs at least 6 pounds per gallon, and has less fat than ice cream (1 to 2 percent). Total milk solids (no cream allowed) are 2 to 5 percent by weight. If fruit is included, a certain level of acidity is required. FYI, the word comes from “sharbat,” Arabic for “drink.”
Sorbet. Sherbet minus dairy ingredients.
Gelato. It has an intense flavor and is served semi-frozen. Italian-style gelato is denser than ice cream, with less air. Typically, gelato has more milk than cream and contains sweeteners, egg yolks, and flavoring, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
Water ice (aka Italian ice). It has no milk ingredients and no egg ingredients other than egg white. It has a flaky texture, is often fat-free, and tends to be lowest in calories among frozen desserts.
Everyone loves ice cream and it is a fond childhood memory for all. So where does this yummy summertime treat originate from in Greece? How did it find its way to become a central part of Greek summertime culture? Let’s take a look at the history of ice cream in Greece.
The three current-day ice cream makers in Greece are Evga which was bought out by Unilever, Delta which has been bought by Nestle and Kri Kri, the only purely Greek company with headquarters in Serres, Greece.
But once upon a time there were other companies such as Agno Dairy SA which started operations in 1950 in Thessaloniki as the first industry pasteurization and milk bottling in Northern Greece.
Also, in the late 1990s, Pure became a pioneer company in ice cream with a modern factory boasting the latest technology and equipment. However, by 2003 the company acquired much debt and the Agricultural Bank of Greece stepped in and took over the company, transferred Pure to Kolios SA, which experienced large turnovers and gains over the flowing decade, thus accumulating debts.
Now that you have some perspective on the raise and fall of the ice cream empires in Greece, let’s take at look at the history and common qualities of those still standing that has helped them stay in business over the decades.
Evga started the craze of ice cream on a stick in Greece in 1936, when Greeks ate their first ice cream on a stick.
Generations upon generations of Greeks remember Evga while they were growing up as it is the company that changed ice cream after being established in 1934 by the Souraka brothers, Greek-American immigrants to Athens.
By producing pasteurized cow’s milk, the brothers started the beginning of the economic revolution of the industrialization of the dairy industry in Greece.
Imagine how the streets flooded with ice cream lovers as in 1936, there were no refrigerators for ice-cream trucks to cruise the streets with, passing out ice cream. Back then, street vendors had wheelbarrows filled with ice. Thus the profession of “pagotatzi” came about, were vendors wearing a white apron and cap and traveled through the neighborhoods with the famous three-wheeled carts!
Of course, as modern technology advanced, ice cream has ended up in your supermarket freezer section or loaded into musical ice cream trucks.
The dairy dynasty of the Daskalopoulos, who began the dairy company Delta in 1890 from a small dairy workshop in Exarchia, Athens, was late to join-in with the ice cream craze.
By the time they decided to enter the market in 1967, Evga was quite dominant in the ice cream industry, but that didn’t stop them.
In fact, by 1979 Delta acquired an impressive position in the category of fresh milk in Greece and one year later in 1980 it became the leader in the ice cream market in Greece.
Between 1996 and 2000 Delta carried out renovations and expansions of its ice cream factories and in 2006 sold 96.53 percent of the total participation of Delta Ice Cream to Nestle.
Kri Kri, the one remaining Greek ice cream company that is controlled by Greeks saw its first sales in 1954 under the guidance of founder George Tsinavo when the company decided to undertake the simultaneous production and distribution of ice cream and confectionery in the city of Serres.
The first ice cream distributions made by vendors used a special chests made of wood and metal and weighed about 30 pounds each, while the capacity was about 40 pieces of ice cream per chest.
The very first ice cream created by Kri Kri was “cassata,” a special cream based on sheep’s milk and was rich in flavor.
By the 1960s, Kri Kri put its first modern-day ice cream freezer in the Serres market.
By 1971 the ice cream product became well-known outside of Serres.
In 1987 George’s son, Panagiotis Tsinavos expanded the factory and facilities of Kri Kri and that same year the company’s product line of ice cream became available all over Greece.
Today it remains the only Greek owned ice cream company and exports ice cream to 22 countries.
Best Ice Cream in Athens, Attica
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As someone who has now written multiple articles about Halo Top, I can say with some confidence that the “healthy ice cream” phase has taken over way more of the dessert market than I ever expected it to. But thanks to science, I guess, our sweet tooth tendencies have been rewarded with less diabetes-inducing ice cream options. There are brands all over the world, but the trend has generally been to replicate your favorite pints with healthier ingredient alternatives. And now, enter Yasso.
Yasso began as frozen Greek yogurt bars in classic flavors like mint chocolate chip and fudge brownie. But founders Amanda and Drew soon realized that their idea was a hit, and they’ve expanded into the low-calorie pint game.
All about the flavors
I’m surprised the pints weren’t a thing before, but now that Yasso has gotten their act together, I should start by saying I’m thrilled by the results. I’ve only eaten two of the flavors, but they were pretty different flavor profiles and both wonderful. More on that later.
For their first iteration, Yasso’s frozen greek yogurt pints come in eight flavors. The Best of Both Swirlds flavor combines the classic chocolate and vanilla into a simple, 100-calorie per serving scoop. Caramel Pretzelmania takes sea salt caramel frozen Greek yogurt, swirls it with caramel, and tops it off with chocolate-covered pretzel bits. Chocolate PB & Yay is pretty straightforward, with peanut butter swirls and peanut butter chips added into a chocolate ice cream base.
Of course, there’s the classic chocolate chip cookie dough iteration, aptly named Rolling in the Dough. The Mint Championchip is similarly self-explanatory, and Party Animal serves as the Yasso version of cake batter ice cream.
My personal favorite flavor ideas come in the form of Loco Coco Caramel and Coffee Brownie Break—not their catchiest names, but flavor powerhouses nonetheless. The former matches toasted coconut frozen Greek yogurt with a caramel swirl and mini chocolate chips, while the latter combines a coffee base with chocolate chips and brownie pieces.
How Yasso compares to other options
I’ll always be a proponent of Halo Top’s Lemon Cake, but I might be reaching for the Loco Coco now instead. These pints are slightly higher-calorie than Halo Top, ringing in at 100-150 calories per serving. (For reference, Halo Top averages about 80 calories per serving.) But the texture of these pints was light years ahead of that of Halo Top.
I ate the entire Loco Coco and Coffee Break pints, and my panel of friends/judges thoroughly approved. The coconut flavor is pretty strong, but in a toasted candied coconut way that blends well with ice cream. The chocolate chips were sized perfectly—they blended in while scooping, but served as a fun little surprise when you bit into the spoonful. The coffee flavor tasted like regular ice cream (seriously, this is a win), and all of us found ourselves hunting for the brownie bits.
If you’re looking to compare to other brands, Yasso is about on par in terms of protein content (5-6 grams per serving, or about 20 grams per pint). The pints are gluten free, and most importantly, there’s no erythritol, which is the additive in other brands that makes it hard to stop eating once you start. (So yes, all of that other “eat the whole pint” marketing is intentional.)
Where to get it
Most grocery stores that already sold Yasso’s bars are starting to carry the pints, but you can double check that your local chain has them in stock via the “store finder” feature on their website. But be warned, the store I visited was reported as not carrying the pints yet. This was a lie. If you’re feeling lazy, you can also just order any of the pints (or all eight) online through Yasso’s website. Shipping the pints is a lot more expensive though, so take that as you will.
Considering the impressively quick overcrowding of the diet ice cream alternative market, I wasn’t expecting to be that enthused about yet another option. It may be the Greek yogurt base, or the inventive flavors, or simply the trial run via yogurt bars, but Yasso should be on its way to edging out its competition. Or, at the very least, it has likely become my own go-to indulgence.
The Top 4 Health Benefits of Ice Cream
Benefits of Ice Cream. It’s True!
Ice Cream lovers rejoice! We’ve found out that the delicious ice cream you eat that makes you so happy also has some serious health benefits! Make a dash to your freezer and scoop up a bowl of your favourite ice cream flavour, possibly in Stanpac ice cream packaging!, and we’ll get into 4 big reasons why you should have second’s! …well maybe not second’s, as we like to have everything in moderation. Now, on to the benefits of ice cream!
Ice Cream Is Good For Your Health!
Ok, so we all enjoy eating ice cream on a hot summer day…well let’s be honest, we all love eating ice cream any darn day! We’ve all heard about the many disadvantages to eating ice cream as well but as promised we’ve found some health benefits to eating our favourite tasty frozen treat. According to MagForWomen.com, these are 4 of the 5 Benefits of Ice Cream:
1. Source of Vitamins
Did you know that ice cream happens to be a huge source of vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D, and E! It doesn’t stop there. Apparently, ice cream contains vitamin K, which prevents blood clotting. Let’s not forget that ice cream also contains niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin.
2. Provides Energy
Not only does ice cream have nutritional value, it also is an incredible source of energy. As a diabetic, I understand that ice cream is rich with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are all, needed for our bodies to produce energy. Careful on how much energy you want to get from ice cream, after all, it can also help you gain weight. Everything in moderation remember!
3. Source of Minerals
Minerals like calcium and phosphorus are found in ice cream. Calcium is an essential mineral for us as it maintains strong bones and reduces the chances of kidney stones. Mood swings and PMS can also be prevented by eating ice cream. Who knew!?!?
4. Stimulates the Brain
“Ice cream stimulates the thrombotonin, which is a hormone of happiness and helps in reducing the levels of stress in the body. Ice cream is made of milk, which contains L-triptophane, which is a natural tranquilizer and helps in relaxing the nervous system. It also helps prevent symptoms of insomnia.”
Now, let’s get one thing straight. After listing all these fantastic health benefits of ice cream, by no means do we suggest you eat as much ice cream as you can or, god forbid, you binge on ice cream this weekend.
With as many benefits that may come with eating ice cream, there is probably an equal amount of health issues that could arise from eating too much.
Choose your flavours wisely and eat responsibly. Everything in moderation remember!
To find out more about our Ice Cream Packaging services or if you’re looking for quality graphics and lithographic printing capabilities, our paperboard packaging is making waves in the food service segment of the industry. With bold lithographic print capabilities that make your products jump off the shelf.
For more information of our selection of food and ice cream packaging supplies, please download our complete product catalogue.
Is Ice Cream Good for You? Nutrition Facts and More
Like most processed desserts, ice cream has several health drawbacks to keep in mind.
High in added sugar
It’s no secret that ice cream is loaded with sugar.
Many varieties contain 12–24 grams of added sugar in just a 1/2-cup (65-gram) serving (1).
It’s recommended that you limit added sugars to under 10% of your daily calories, or about 50 grams of sugar for a 2,000-calorie diet (7).
Thus, one or two small servings of ice cream can easily push you toward this daily limit.
Additionally, research links excessive sugar intake to multiple health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease (8, 9).
Calorie-dense and low in nutrients
Ice cream is laden with calories but offers few nutrients — aside from calcium and phosphorus (10).
If you eat ice cream as an occasional treat, you shouldn’t worry about its lack of nutrients. However, if you often replace nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, or whole grains with ice cream, your diet could be lacking necessary vitamins and minerals.
Plus, ice cream’s high calorie load may promote weight gain if you eat too much.
May contain unhealthy additives
Many ice creams are highly processed and include ingredients like artificial flavors and additives.
Some artificial ingredients and preservatives have been associated with negative health effects, while others have been proven safe.
Notably, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned seven artificial flavorings, including benzophenone, given their association with cancer in animal studies. These compounds were common in ice cream and other desserts (11, 12).
Additionally, processed ice creams regularly harbor artificial food dyes, such as Red No. 3 (erythrosine) and Blue No. 2 (indigo carmine). Although they’re approved by the FDA, some research links these dyes to hyperactivity and behavioral issues in children (13).
Guar gum, which is used to thicken and texturize foods, is also common in ice cream. It’s generally considered safe but has been associated with mild side effects, such as bloating, gas, and cramps (14).
What’s more, animal and test-tube research suggest that carrageenan, likewise found in ice cream, may promote intestinal inflammation (15).
Ice cream has several downsides. It’s low in nutrients, high in added sugar and calories, and may contain artificial ingredients.
Can Ice Cream Be Healthy?
Ice cream is a popular dessert logged by MyFitnessPal users — and for good reason. It’s hard to imagine summers or special occasions without a scoop of your favorite hard-packed flavor or a soft-serve cone. Still, you’d be hard pressed to find an ice cream shop, social or truck where you don’t hear at least one person lamenting about how they “shouldn’t,” will need to “burn it off” or are going to “be bad” just this one time.
As a non-diet, “all foods fit” dietitian, this drives me mad and tugs at my heartstrings. It’s not you or the ice cream that is bad or unhealthy, it’s the diet culture promoted through warped messaging from the media.
Here, a look at ice cream’s nutritional benefits, why it should be put on a neutral playing field and how it can play a role in a healthy diet.
Ice cream has energy, or calories, which we need on a daily basis from a variety of food sources like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and yes, fun foods like ice cream. Depending on the type, it also has a bit of protein (around 2 grams per 1/2 cup) and some fat (about 7 grams per 1/2 cup), which helps slow digestion and keeps us satisfied. Ice cream also contains calcium, which promotes strong, healthy bones and small amounts of other vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and magnesium.
Still, we also know ice cream contains sugar, which, when consumed in large amounts, can have negative health effects.
WHY ICE CREAM SHOULD BE ON A NEUTRAL PLAYING FIELD
Despite some of the positives listed above, ice cream is often vilified for being “bad” or “unhealthy.” This black-and-white thinking diet culture wants you to associate with food — good or bad, healthy or unhealthy — does nothing but evoke feelings of shame or guilt around food. It can even lead people to associate morality with eating (i.e., thinking “I am bad because I ate ice cream”), which can lead to binge eating, yo-yo dieting and other negative impacts on your relationship with food and quality of life.
We can start to change this by thinking about food in a neutral way — not as black and white but as gray. Focus on including a variety of foods in your diet and add foods that may have been on your “bad” list gradually and occasionally. If one of those foods is ice cream, take yourself out for a scoop on a relaxed afternoon and savor it for what it is — a cooling and delicious sweet treat — then enjoy the rest of your day while holding onto those positive feelings. This can be much easier said than done, and working with a non-diet dietitian can also be extremely helpful.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Yes, ice cream can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Eating ice cream in moderation, if you enjoy and desire it, indicates a healthy relationship with food and gives you a lot more brain space to focus on other important things in your life. I often tell clients the stress caused by avoiding certain foods, like ice cream, because they are perceived as “bad” is a lot more harmful in the short- and long-term.
Let’s recognize that while vitamins and minerals are important, health is about the big picture. That means getting quality sleep, focusing on self-care, regularly moving your body, finding ways to support mental health and more. The foods that truly nourish you in a holistic sense can and should change on a daily basis. Sometimes that food is ice cream, and that is OK.
Who doesn’t love a scoop of ice cream?! The best ice cream brands, including the most popular, healthy, inexpensive, tasty, and nonfat brands for ice cream are listed here, for your drooling pleasure. Ice cream is a frozen dessert that is loved by many (especially when served in a cone or in a bowl with chocolate syrup on top.) In essence, the ingredients in ice cream are just cream, water, and sugar – although many top ice cream brands and large ice cream companies add their own extra ingredients to make unique flavors of ice cream. Phrases such as “frozen custard,” “frozen yogurt,” “sorbet,” “gelato,” and others are used to distinguish different varieties and styles.
So, what are the best ice cream brands? More than just the top 10 ice cream brands, this list has ’em all! Popular ice cream types are available in convenience stores, grocery stores and specialty stores. People usually choose the creamiest, sweetest, easiest to scoop, and most delicious kinds of ice cream as their favorites. Whether you’re eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s alone in bed (it’s okay, we’ve all been there), or scooping up cones for the kiddos, choose from among the best store bought ice cream to get the best ice creamy-delightful dessert experience.
The goal of this page is to provide a comprehensive list of all major ice cream brands, making shopping and comparison fast and easy. This is what people recommend, based on voting for the top ice cream brands available today.
If ice creams could have zodiac signs, cookies and cream would be a Libra — obsessed with balance and equilibrium. If ice creams were countries, cookies and cream would be Switzerland — a neutral zone between chocolate and vanilla. If ice creams could take a Myers-Briggs test, cookies and cream would be an ESFJ: “Warmhearted, conscientious and cooperative. Want harmony in their environment.”
Black and white, yin and yang: Ice cream is all about balance. The base has to strike the right note between creamy and icy. The ratio of mix-ins must be just right. That’s why cookies and cream was the perfect test case for our search for a superlative ice cream.
It’s also because, when you eliminate boring old vanilla and chocolate, cookies and cream might be the most popular ice cream flavor in America. In a 2017 survey, the International Dairy Foods Association found that vanilla and chocolate were the top-selling flavors in the United States — followed by cookies and cream in third place. According to Food 52, cookies and cream is the most-searched-for ice cream flavor in 14 out of 50 states (second place was vanilla). It’s not universal, though. A 2018 YouGov survey put cookies and cream after butter pecan, which, to be honest, we find hard to believe. (What kind of monster likes butter pecan more than cookies and cream?)
Besides, of all the non-chocolate, non-vanilla flavors, cookies and cream — unlike some of the more adventurous concoctions, such as balsamic fig and mascarpone, arbequina olive oil and “matchadoodle” — is the most common across brands, making it the easiest to compare.
We rounded up a panel of seven tasters, which included a couple of experts: One of them wrote an ice cream cookbook. Another one is pregnant. Rounding out the rest of the group were members of the Food staff and other Washington Post staffers who identified cookies and cream as their favorite flavor. The taste test was blind, and participants did not know which brands were included.
We bought pints of cookies and cream from nine of the top-selling ice cream brands in America, and threw in a few others that are sold nationally. They were rated on their texture, taste and the ratio of cookies to cream, with a perfect equilibrium earning that ice cream a perfect score. The scores were averaged, and the highest possible score was 20.
And because all good taste tests result in a little drama, we had to disqualify one brand. The Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch gelato is the brand’s closest rendition of cookies and cream, and though the caramel gave us pause, we figured, what the heck, we’re open-minded. It contained some chocolate cookie bits, but its dominant flavor was caramel, which made it too hard to compare to the others. Our winning flavor was also a nontraditional cookies and cream — in addition to the customary chocolate sandwich cookies, it contains crumbled up chocolate chip cookies — but its flavor profile was more closely aligned with a typical cookies and cream, so it stayed in the competition.
Also on the nontraditional front: We included two low-calorie ice creams. Many of the makers of these types of ice creams say they are just as good as “regular” ice creams. We’ll let the results speak for themselves.
15. Halo Top
Tasters threatened to mutiny when they sampled this low-calorie ice cream. Following the Halo Top instructions, your trusty administrator let the ice cream warm up on the counter for a little while to reach optimal texture. It was no use. Among the complaints: “The texture is off-color and mottled, the flavor is a disaster.” “Skim milk flavor. Painted-on cookie dots.” “This is a crime against ice cream in general. What a waste of ingredients.” “Looked like butter, tasted like freeze-dried barf.” “Tastes like I just licked the boardwalk in Ocean City.” “I have no idea what this is, or why you’ve told me it’s ice cream.” “The person who made this and decided it was fit to serve to humans has probably never tasted cookies and cream before. It’s like an alien took a stab at making something called ‘cookies and cream’ on their first day on Earth.” “Vile.”
Another low-cal brand, Enlightened fared slightly better than its biggest competitor. You would hardly know it from the comments, though: “There’s a very unpleasant artificial flavor in this scoop. It looks attractive, but beneath the visual veneer, it’s not good at all.” “Corn. I taste corn. This should never happen while eating ice cream. Genuinely revolting.” Tasters found it “kind of oily” and “oddly not that flavorful,” with “cookie bits reminiscent of off-brand Oreos (hello, Hydrox!).” It “has an artificial quality to the flavor that’s seriously off-putting,” and may be an elaborate practical joke: “I’m not sure what it was trying to be.” “Yikes. From the moment it hits your mouth, it just gets worse and worse.”
13. Alden’s Organic
This brand is certified organic, but tasters dinged it for its cheap-tasting “cardboard cookie flavor.” One taster was “getting a medicinal vibe from this one, just a funny aftertaste,” and another griped that it was “extremely sugary, even for ice cream” and that “the base verges on grainy.” It was composed of “dry, flavorless cookies and an oddly acidic cream,” said one tester. “A shrug when you’re hoping for a hug.”
12. Van Leeuwen
This fancy New York brand, purchased at our local Whole Foods, did not impress our tasters. They had a few minor issues with the ice cream base — one called it “smooth, but flavorless,” and others thought we were tricking them into eating another low-calorie ice cream (“Tastes kind of fake.” “What is going on with this ice cream?”). But mostly, Van Leeuwen’s premium cookies registered strangely to our tasters. It had “lighter brown flecks that I’m not used to seeing” and “no chunks, just tiny grains.” “When I think cookies and cream, I think Oreo, and this was some other kind of cookie (I think!) that I couldn’t identify.” Correct! The brand uses Michel Cluizel chocolate to bake its own cookies, which are filled with a coconut cream filling. The cookies are very soft, leading one taster to declare: “Not cookies. This is cake. Weird cake.” Another said it had a “thick and creamy ice cream and a more chocolate than cookie flavor in the ‘cookies.’ It doesn’t quite feel like it’s playing by the rules.”
11. Blue Bunny
The classic brand had lots of cookies, but they were in very small granules that one taster said gave it a “dirty” texture. Its “smattering of chocolaty ‘freckles’” gave it a “kind of ashy gray color.” Some tasters said the base was “so sweet it tastes like Oreo filling was added to the ice cream,” but others liked that about it — it was “nicely creamy and packs a lot of flavor,” and “felt oddly unctuous at first, but grew on me. The cookies themselves were nicely distributed.” If only they had been bigger. “I’d prefer more big chunks.” “It’s more like cookie crumbs and cream.”
This was one of the richest and creamiest ice creams we sampled — but, similar to Blue Bunny, tasters took issue with the quantity and size of the cookies. The base got high marks for its super creamy — almost cream-cheesy — taste and texture. It was a “really luxurious ice cream, thick and velvety,” and “frothy, airy . . . like licking a cloud.” But some tasters thought it was too much, with a “filmy texture.” Mostly, the problem boiled down to this: “Super creamy and delicious. But the cookie freckles are too few and far between.” “WAY more cream than cookies.” Another did some self-reflection: “I did not care for this. I still ate all of it, but I hate myself.”
Friendly’s was the opposite — a pretty meh base, but great cookies. It had “kind of an odd vanilla, as if the vanilla were created in a lab” and was “a little too sweet for my taste.” It also featured “delicious cookie and not too bad custard. But cloying and waxy — like there are too many gums for stabilizing.” But, good news: “The first sighting of a full cookie fossil.”
8. Whole Foods 365
We’re deeply in the middle of the pack here. “I’d give it a B-,” one taster said of the Whole Foods house brand, which another called “artificial tasting” despite the brand’s commitment to high-quality ingredients. One claimed it had “a peculiar chalky vibe, which is sad, because at first taste, it was classic and yummy.” Another said it “reminded me of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake. Had a back-of-the-throat sweetness that lingered.” It has a “good amount of big pieces of cookie as fun hidden surprises” and is “a little dense, but largely inoffensive.” “It is neither good nor bad. The cookie is generic. The cream is sweet and lifeless. Maybe good for a picky eater?”
*Note: This brand is also called Dreyer’s in some parts of the country.
Another middling choice, by comparison. Tasters called it “bland and forgettable.” They “would have liked more cookies, but this one did a passable job.” They also would have liked better cookies: “This cookie is a nasty, in-flight cookie . . . the ice cream itself is adequate, but yikes, this cookie.” Some said it had a “nice tasting base, nicely smooth to the tongue.” Another note said “it felt more like it was quoting cookies and cream than embodying it.” In summary: “a decent amount of chocolate, so it can be tasted in most bites, and the cream/sugar ratio in the ice cream is in better shape. Not the best ever, but good.”
This classic brand scored points for being charmingly ordinary. It had “super creamy, large, prominent chunks of fudge with an almost cookie-dough-like texture. This doesn’t seem ‘gourmet’ to me, but I bet it’s a crowd pleaser.” It was “not too sweet, which I appreciate,” with “excellent sized chunks of cookie.” One taster felt it had a “strong c-to-c ratio, but the ice cream is too crystallized.” It was “reasonably satisfying, not mind-blowing. But sometimes you don’t need your mind blown. You just want a sitcom, not prestige TV.”
Both of these brands scored high for the quantity and quality of their cookies. Breyers, which touts its use of real Oreos, had a “bland base, but great cookie distribution . . . best ratio of cookies to cream,” and an “excellent cream texture and just the right amount of cookies.” Its “ratio is on the nose with varied cookie piece sizes.” If the base were slightly better, it might have pulled ahead of Blue Bell. “The flavor fades kind of like a stale marshmallow, and then the roof of your mouth retains this slick film,” said one taster, and another said it “hangs around in your throat” and has a “generic dirty slush color.” But the Oreos made up for that. “Great distribution of cookies. Compulsively consumable.”
Not a lot of complaints here: It has “incredibly dense chocolate chunks and an impressive cookie-to-cream ratio.” “The cream was solid and the cookies themselves seemed almost like real Oreos.” And “the base is pretty good.” “These cookies come with some creme filling, which adds another level of flavor (though it also seems to freeze harder than the ice cream). LOTS of cookies.”
3. Turkey Hill
The Lancaster, Pa., brand hit the sweet spot for our tasters and scored the highest of any ice cream that comes in a size larger than a quart. “I can’t tell you why I enjoy this one. It’s very simple, the cream isn’t too sugar-sweet, the ratio of cookie is good — it seems like nostalgia for elementary school picnics in a park.” “It does the job on the cookie, creamy and textural fronts” and is “just a tasty, solid ice cream” with “a fine distribution of cookies to cream.” “It was like a hidden treasure of cookies, which I greatly enjoyed. At first, it seemed like there were only smaller pieces — but then you would find a GIANT one.” Its texture was very pleasing,” with a “fluffy, marshmallow-like texture and taste to the cream.”
Haagen-Dazs proves once again why it has become one of the greats. It is “creamy and smooth and what ice cream should be. The cookie chunks are big and beautiful,” with a “solid ratio and texture and taste.” Tasters said it had “surprisingly luxurious cream with chunks of cookie that crumbled nicely on the palate.” It was “sweet and light. Would love on a dead-hot July evening.”
1. Ben & Jerry’s
Our winner, Ben & Jerry’s, is the aforementioned non-traditional cookies and cream — it has chocolate chip cookies in it, too — but tasters found it still true enough to the original, and said the other cookies were an enhancement. “There’s something deep and caramely about this one. I like the cookie bites as well as what seems like Nilla Wafers that snuck in. Either way, it’s tasty!” “So many cookies! . . . Some people probably can’t handle this number of cookies, but I felt it really brought this flavor to the next level. Also, the cookie swirl was aesthetically pleasing.” It had “visible bits of light brown cookie within the taste of more traditional cookie dough ice cream. It left me confused but not unhappy.” And it all added up to “a very satisfying package. It is a little over the top to be a true cookies and cream, but this doesn’t feel like the kitchen sink.”
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The scoop on ice cream for private brands
The ice cream and frozen novelty category is diverse, crowded and complex, declares market researcher Mintel. And even though recent innovations have provided something for practically everyone, sales growth has been relatively static for some time, according to Mintel’s May report, “Ice Cream and Frozen Novelties, U.S.”
Encouraging, however, is the category’s 90% household penetration rate, which reflects continuing consumer devotion to these beloved indulgences, Mintel notes.
Ice cream and sherbet is eaten by 86% of households, frozen novelties are consumed by 54% of households and packaged frozen yogurt by 21%, according to data cited by research firm Packaged Facts.
Even though sales growth has been low and volume declining for a long time, dollar sales have spiked “slightly” in the last few years, according to Packaged Facts’ just-released August report update, “U.S. Food Market Outlook, 2019.”
Consumers are treating themselves to more higher-priced, high-end, indulgent ice cream and specialty novelties, the report says. And, indulging in a different sort of way, they are flocking to low-calorie, low-sugar, high-protein ice creams like the phenomenally successful Halo Top brand, which beckons consumers by suggesting they can eat more of its ice cream while consuming significantly fewer calories than if they were eating regular brands.
A Lightspeed/Mintel online survey of 1,796 adults conducted in January asked what attributes would prompt respondents to try a new frozen treat product. Number one, at 34%, was new textures. Coming in second was mini sizes, cited by 25%. Tart flavor was favored by 22%; high-protein content by 21%; salty flavor, functional benefits and plant-based by 20%; and internationally inspired by 17%.
Billed as “healthier” than regular ice cream, frozen desserts made from oat, almond, coconut and cashew milks and boasting nutritional benefits like high protein and low sugar are the fastest growing in the segment, says Stephanie Schultz, marketing coordinator for Fort Walton Beach, Fla.-based G.S. Gelato & Desserts.
“Where in the past, consumers would have to go to a specialty aisle to find non-dairy, plant-based products, the ice cream freezer now has an abundance of flavors to choose from,” Schultz adds. “Now that plant-based products have entered the mainstream, it’s important for retailers to adapt to the trend by ensuring they have their own selection of non-dairy flavors that are a good mix of classic and unique innovations.”
Founded by Italian couple Guido Tremolini and Simona Faroni, G.S. Gelato creates authentic, artisanal Italian gelato, sorbet and non-dairy frozen desserts from oat milk and coconut milk for private label and foodservice clients. According to the company, it’s the largest foodservice distributor of gelato and sorbet in the U.S.
“We see a future in the more decadent things,” says High Road Craft Brands Chief Brand Officer Nicki Schroeder.
The Marietta, Ga.-based maker of handcrafted, high-butterfat, “luxury” ice creams and frozen novelties, founded by Schroeder and her chef-businessman husband Keith Schroeder, started as a supplier to high-end restaurants before entering the retail and private label world. Sam’s Club is a client, and High Road creates Tanzanian vanilla ice cream, sourced from small farms in Tanzania, exclusively for the retailer.
Indulgence in moderation is what many consumers are after, Schroeder says. “People want something that makes them feel satisfied. It’s exciting to discover things and bring them to market so people can” fall in love with them.
High Road acquired Ciao Bella Gelato last year, and has overhauled the recipes (some back to their original formulations), flavor lineup, graphics and packaging, returning the brand to more sustainable paper pints. The new holiday sorbet line includes apple cider, tangerine, holiday punch (cranberry, tangerine and a splash of prosecco) and other flavors. High Road is currently working on its new 2020 flavors.
Clean and artisan
Old-world methods differentiate frozen desserts by improving the taste and appearance while also producing clean-label product, says Daniel Salazar, marketer for Emila Foods in Modena, Italy.
Emila’s gelatos; fruit, yogurt and gelato bars; mini cones and gelato sandwiches are made in small batches and instantly frozen to lock in flavor intensity, according to the company. Crafted from all-natural, organic and non-GMO ingredients, the products are free from artificial ingredients, colors and flavors.
“Consumers are becoming more aware of healthy and ethical choices, and their search for transparent and clean labels is relentless. Offering a quality product that embodies the values praised by new generations of consumers is the most reliable way for a retailer to sympathize with its customers,” Salazar says.
Staying ahead of trends
G.S. Gelato’s research and development team monitors the global ice cream market to keep ahead of the trends and create customized private label programs, Schultz says. The category has a lot of potential to showcase innovation and is very adaptable to change as the ice cream industry evolves, she adds.
Some of G.S. Gelato’s flavors include amaretto, Sicilian pistachio, espresso chocolate chunk, toasted coconut, triple chocolate, bananas foster and peach guava. Seasonal flavors include sweet potato marshmallow, cinnamon brown sugar and cherry cobbler.
High Road’s in-house research and development and design teams keep it ahead of the trends, Schroeder says
“We look at the trends, but we also ask ourselves, ‘What do we want to do with the culinary knowledge we have and the travels we’ve taken to Italy and Tanzania? How do we translate that into products?’ ”
Salazar advises to keep things fresh by introducing exciting seasonal flavors, either based on a theme or made from exotic ingredients such as yuzu, açai and passion fruit. New flavors and combinations may seem unusual at first, but have the potential to be appreciated in the long run, he adds.
Store brand gains
Private label is on the move in this category, as consumers continue to choose private label overall more than individual brands, Packaged Facts states.
In 2018, 28% of households consumed private label ice cream and sherbet, up from 22% in 2008, according to Packaged Facts.
Additionally, consumption of “other brands” of ice cream increased by nearly 10% as consumers increasingly gravitated toward new brands, many of which are small players in the super-premium niche, Packaged Facts reports.
Some retailers are becoming bolder with their private label ice cream offerings, Packaged Facts notes, offering more premium products with on-trend flavors, ingredients and forms. For example, Walmart’s Great Value brand is offered in trendy flavors such as banana pudding and sea salt caramel truffle. Target introduced a Halo-like, low-calorie, high-protein line under its private brand. Albertsons’ upscale Signature RESERVE brand offers seven flavors of super-premium ice cream featuring globally sourced ingredients. And Kroger’s Private Selection brand went upscale with flavors like wildberry lavender mascarpone.
Cvetan is a contributing writer to Store Brands.