The Best Store-Bought Frozen Treats

Hemera/ ThinkstockHemera/ ThinkstockWhen it comes to frozen desserts, there are a whole lot of other options out there besides just a bowl of ice cream. What about the treats that come on sticks, like fudge pops, fruit bars and chocolate-covered ice cream bars? Or that childhood classic, the ice cream sandwich? The frozen-food aisle has become so inundated with varieties of frozen treats that it's nearly overwhelming to decide which way to go. That's why we put the leading brands of each of those treats to the test, and found clear winners in each of those categories.

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Take the ice cream sandwich, for example. There are so many varieties of the classic childhood treat available in the supermarket that it can be a tough call to know whether to go for the store brand or something more upscale, like Klondike. For our blind taste test, we judged 10 different brands according to a few parameters: How long do they keep their form before beginning to melt? Was the vanilla ice cream creamy and high-quality, and did it actually taste like vanilla? Did the cookies taste like real chocolate, and not dissolve into a mess in your hands? The results might surprise you.

For fudge pops, we judged the original Fudgsicle alongside its competitors, and rated them on texture, chocolate flavor, creaminess, and overall enjoyment factor.

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The fruit bars we ranked were the classic orange, cherry, and grape from the two leading brands, plus a higher-end offering. We judged them by sweetness level, meltiness, and fruit flavor.

And for ice cream bars, we judged the leading brands of straight-forward chocolate covered ice cream, and based our rankings on the quality of the ice cream and chocolate, the vanilla and chocolate flavor, how it held up over the time to took to be eaten, and ultimate satisfaction level.

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For all these snack varieties, we judged each brand directly against the others: full-fat, low-fat, even tofu-based products were all blindly judged side by side, and ranked according to the same criteria. Because when it comes down to it, just because something's lower in fat doesn't mean we should settle for less flavor, right? And at the end of the day, some of these healthier options performed far better than their full-fat competitors.

Part 1: Ice Cream Sandwiches

#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.

Price: $5.99

Part 2: Fudge Pops

#1) Tofutti

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.

Price: $5.09

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Part 3: Fruit Pops

#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.

Price: $1.99

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Part 4: Ice Cream Bars

#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.

Price: $2.99

Click here to see how other frozen treats ranked in our taste test!

-Dan Myers, The Daily Meal

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