Best Cheap Ice Cream Treats
If you're craving a cool, refreshing, tasty, and cheap ice cream treat, you may be forgiven for thinking that ice cream is ice cream is ice cream. As our panel of six taste testers discovered, however, there's a difference between just okay ice cream treats and those that hit the sweet spot. More importantly, price doesn't seem to matter all that much. We organized a blind tasting of several types of ice cream novelties, including the classic versions of sandwiches, bars, and cones from three budget brands: Klondike, Nestle, and the Kroger store brand. To ensure a more credible assessment of cheap ice cream treats, we threw in ice cream bar samples from two premium brands: Dove and Haagen-Dazs.
Our Top Pick
Kroger Sammie Review
Our Kroger ice cream treats review concluded that this in-house brand is a solid choice for a quick, easy, and, best of all, cheap frozen indulgence. The line-up of ice cream novelties in our blind tasting involving two other budget brands included the Kroger Sammie sandwich (31 cents/unit), Kroger Arctic Blaster bar (25 cents/unit), and Kroger Fun Daze Sundae cone (60 cents/unit). In all three categories the Kroger product was the cheapest, and in two fared quite well against the other entries.
Our judges ranked the Kroger Sammie as best in class. They were taken with the crunchy outer chocolate cookie compared with others in the category, which were deemed too soft. "Yum," said one of the tasters, "delicious, nice crunch on the wafer." Others declared that "the ice cream is good -- creamy, sweet, and just right." Our judges' assessment was affirmed by a contributor to Yahoo Voices, whose Kroger Sammie review said the novelty hits the spot, with a cookie that's just the right texture (moderately dry and moderately cakey) and a vanilla center that's satisfyingly sweet.
Due to limited selection in the cones category, the Fun Daze Sundae was judged against just one other, the Nestle Drumstick. The Kroger entry put in a decent showing, falling into place behind the Drumstick. The judges praised the vanilla ice cream and the "flavorful" peanuts atop the chocolate coating, but grumbled about a taste that some deemed too artificial and a waffle cone that was too pliable.
Kroger's Arctic Blaster bar was the brand's Waterloo. The "good ice cream flavor" was noted favorably by our tasters but the hard chocolate shell was dismissed for a taste that was slightly off-putting.
About the nutritional content: The Sammie contains 170 calories and 6 grams of fat; the Kroger Artic Blaster provides 150 calories and 10 grams of fat; and a Fun Daze Sundae delivers a whooping 330 calories and 19 grams of fat.
Kroger sells a wide variety of ice cream products (both novelties and containers of various sizes) and an even wider assortment of flavors. Given the low prices and the results of our Kroger ice cream treats taste test, you can confidently put these goodies in your shopping cart.
Klondike Original Review
In our Klondike ice cream treats review we compared two products -- the Klondike Original bar (58 cents/unit, Amazon) and the Klondike Classic Vanilla sandwich (58 cents/unit) -- against comparable products from other budget brands, and against two premium brands in the bars category. The results: They equaled or bested even the pricey competition.
The Original Klondike bar tied for first place with the DoveBar, whose unit price of $1.43 set it up along with a $1.60 bar from Haagen-Dazs as the standard to beat in our hands-on tasting of ice cream novelties. According to one panelist, the "ice cream part is absolutely delicious -- the perfect blend of sweet and vanilla" and is accented by the coating's "great rich, but not overpowering, chocolate taste." Several judges referred to the bar simply as "delicious." A blog review of the Klondike Original highlights the thick shell, saying it tastes like chocolate should and is devoid of any waxy mouth-feel.
Klondike's Classic Vanilla sandwich glided into the runner-up spot in our review of ice cream treats. There was some disagreement among the panelists about the product's overall consistency. Some deemed it perfect, with "creamy ice cream and a soft, but not too soft" chocolate cookie holding the center in place. Others didn't care for the outer chocolate layers, described by one as so soft as to be "almost soggy."
Nutrition-wise, the Klondike Original bar contains 250 calories and 14 grams of fat and the Classic Vanilla sandwich delivers a comparatively svelte 180 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.
The lineup of ice cream novelties bearing the Klondike name is filled with the likes of 11 different ice cream bars (e.g., caramel pretzel and mint chocolate chip), three ice cream "kandy" bars (e.g., cookies & cream and caramel & peanuts), four sandwich varieties (including pairings with Oreo and Mrs. Fields), and other novelties, including several with 100 calories or no added sugar.
"What would you do for a Klondike bar?" is a well-known, registered trademark slogan from a company that started out small. Its roots sprouted in Ohio and Pennsylvania in the early 1920's, when the first Klondike bars were ice cream squares hand-dipped into pans of Swiss chocolate. Today the brand is owned by Unilever and is part of the Good Humor-Breyers family.
Available nationwide, Klondike ice cream products will appeal to a wide assembly of eager consumers.
Nestle Drumstick Review
The Nestle ice cream treats review encompassed three specific products and sparked mixed verdicts from our judges. For this label we included the Drumstick cone (92 cents/unit), Eskimo Pie bar (83 cents/unit), and Vanilla Sandwich (83 cents/unit) in our blind tasting of low-cost ice cream novelties. The final outcome was best, good, and indifferent, for each respective product.
The well-known Drumstick, with its vanilla ice cream nestling under a layer of chocolate coating and splash of chopped peanuts, satisfied the panelists' taste buds. It competed against just one other entry (the Kroger Fun Daze Sundae) and easily emerged the favorite. The panel concluded that the ice cream was "packed with a rich vanilla bean flavor," the cone was "crunchy" and surpassed its rival by far, and overall was "the better of the two." They also noted that it had a "less artificial" taste and feel in their mouths. Consumers who posted comments of various iterations of the original Drumstick theme at Viewpoints applaud loudly, with many asserting this treat is their favorite, reminiscent of childhood and a delicious indulgence in any season.
By contrast, Nestle's Vanilla Sandwich tanked in our review. Only two judges declared it tops, with one calling it the best of the bunch owing to the "soft sandwich" and "creamy, flavorful" vanilla ice cream. The other panelists outweighed the supporters, ranking it last due to a "soggy" chocolate cookie and "just okay" ice cream.
The tasting panel also expressed mixed opinions about the Nestle Eskimo Pie ice cream bar. "It has an initial wow factor -- a strong taste in a good way," declared one juror. But the rest of our tasting panel thought the ice cream was "lacking a strong vanilla flavor" and one member even called it "weird." Nonetheless, it floated into second place for the bar category.
Among these Nestle ice cream novelties, the Drumstick is the most indulgent: 290 calories and 16 grams of fat. Both the Vanilla sandwich and Eskimo Pie are comparatively healthful: 160 calories and 4 grams of fat, and 150 calories and 10 grams of fat, respectively.
Nestle puts out a large assortment of ice cream treats and flavors. The Drumstick line alone includes seven varieties of the classic cone, three "simply dipped" products, three with a so-called flat top, and four "Lil' Drums." Frozen dairy treats also include the Crunch Bar and single-bite Dibs. Nestle owns a stable of brands, such as Haagen-Dazs, Edy's, Skinny Cow, Dreyer's, Frosty Paws, and Wonka.