Our editors tasted 16 kinds of ice cream sandwiches and identified one Epi Top Pick and two other winners
When we were children, ice cream sandwich options were limited: You'd better like rectangles. But times have changed and so has the demand for what the ice cream industry calls "frozen novelties" (bars, cookies, and so forth). According to Mintel International, a market research company, the ice cream and frozen novelties market expanded by more than 16 percent from 2003 to 2008, with much of the growth in nondairy, sugar-free, and diet products. In light of all these new options, we figured it was time to find out which ones are tastiest.
If you're inspired to make your own version, check out our ice cream sandwich slideshow.
The first step was to decide which to taste. For guidance, we turned to the Epicurious online community. In a poll on our Epi-Log blog, we asked you to choose your favorite frozen dessert: fudge ice pop, ice cream sandwich, frozen fruit ice pop, or ice cream bar. Thirty-nine percent of voters selected ice cream sandwiches.
The Judging Criteria
Vanilla ice cream sandwiches come in various shapes and sizes (rectangular or saucerlike, short or long), with two major components that should not be ignored: the exterior cookie and the ice cream itself. The texture of the chocolate cookie should be moist yet slightly dense. It should not be dry or flaky. The ice cream should be creamy and sweet, never icy or tart. The ice cream-to-cookie ratio is also important: One element should never overwhelm the other.
We tasted all available varieties of vanilla ice cream and chocolate wafer cookie sandwich, including regular, organic, low-fat, low-calorie, no-sugar-added, and nondairy. (The nondairy options all contain soy-based ice cream and are marketed as "dairy-free frozen desserts.")
The 16 varieties of ice cream sandwiches we tasted are available nationwide and included the following, listed from highest to lowest score in our test:
- Turkey Hill
- Julie's Organic
- So Delicious
- Good Humor
- Blue Bunny
- Skinny Cow*
- Klondike Slim-a-Bear 100 Calorie*
- Whole Foods Organic
- Klondike No Sugar Added
- Dolly Madison
- Tofutti Cuties
- Soy Dream Lil' Dreamers.
(The brands marked with * received the same score.)
In a blind taste test, judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of vanilla ice cream sandwiches. All of them were kept in the same freezer and were presented individually, first intact, and then cut into bite-size pieces. We ranked them according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system (four being the best).
Epi Top Pick: Turkey Hill Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwich ($3.99 for a box of six)
Pros: The creamy ice cream with real vanilla flavor and the moist, spongy cakelike cookie won raves from the testers. "The ice cream is so fluffy and smooth!" said one editor. "The vanilla specks are not just for show, the ice cream tastes like it's made with a real vanilla pod; very natural," said another.
Cons: Thin in comparison to other competitors.
First Runner-Up: Nestle Super Sandwich ($2.50 per bar)
Pros: All editors agreed that this ice cream sandwich's 2:1 ice cream-to-cookie ratio was just right. Tasters also loved the incredibly creamy, milky ice cream and the coffee bean color and cocoa flavor of the cookie. "A masterpiece," commented one editor.
Cons: Cookie is a bit dry, according to several judges.
Best Nondairy: Organic So-Delicious Nondairy Frozen Dessert ($ 5.49 for a box of six)
Pros: This nondairy option was far more engaging than the other soy-based competitors. In addition to having a firm and dense filling, it actually tasted milky. The bars are also marketed as low-fat. "This one is my new go-to, even though I can eat dairy!" said one taster.
Cons: It's the most expensive of the winner's circle entries, and the filling has a slight eggnoglike taste.
The Other Contenders: The Bottom Three
Two out of the three nondairy varieties were voted the least favorite of all the sandwiches we tested. Soy Dream Lil' Dreamers had a grainy texture and tasted like edamame (soy beans). Tofutti Cuties' filling appeared foamy and had an off-putting orange tint.
Among the classic sandwiches, Dolly Madison's fared the worst: The ice cream was foamy and tasted artificial. The cookie was unimpressive-it tasted minty and like fake chocolate.
Prices and availability subject to change.
See More Epicurious Taste Tests:
by Carolina Santos-Neves
MORE FROM EPICURIOUS.COM