Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Taste Test

For National Ice Cream Day, we tested four low-calorie options

Low-calorie ice cream is everywhere by the dainty pintful right now, because manufacturers of frozen treats are here for us. They know that to survive summer, we need a cold and refreshing bowl of dark chocolate and peanut butter without feeling like a sea cow in the morning.

In honor of National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, we put four low-cal or health-conscious ice creams to the test.

Did the contents of the pints resemble actual ice cream? Not always! Were ingredients like "cream" present in any discernible form? Sometimes no!

But that's okay. Low-cal ice cream is supposed to be light, like air, which you will also feel like after eating it. Pay no attention to the monk fruit concentrate and just give in to the artificial cake batter flavoring.

Which option did the best job of tricking us into decadence? In a very rigorous and scientific poll conducted during a Features department meeting, a panel of 14 taste-testers came to some iron-clad conclusions.

Fourth place: Arctic Zero Cake Batter

$4.19 (price at our local Publix)

150 calories per pint

There was quick and impassioned consensus in the room about this ice cream, which promises only 150 calories for the entire pint. You can tell. The consistency is more like ice cream that someone didn't seal properly then left in the freezer for 6 months — icy, brittle and thoroughly uncreamy. The only form of dairy in this product is whey protein concentrate; the first ingredient is water. It is also an odd pale yellow shade. One of our tasters said it's "unnatural in every way," agreeing with at least one other taster that it smells bad. Another came out with this bold statement: "Literally, I cannot swallow the cake batter one." Everyone who participated in our taste test ranked this one last. Though one person who has had the brand's cookie dough flavor deemed it not "that bad."

Third place: Thrive Creamy Vanilla

$4.99

600 calories per pint

Many of the comments in praise of this flavor contained the phrase "very creamy." Indeed, the consistency is spot-on, with a notable vanilla flavor that doesn't taste quite as luscious as the real stuff but certainly gets the job done. As one taster put it: "How is this fake?" Another said it is "as good as any 'normal' vanilla," and one astute observer noted its "pleasant tongue-coating quality." Of all four options, this one did seem to have the most ice cream-like texture, with little to no "fake" aftertaste or weird mouthfeel.

ICE CREAM DAY IN TAMPA BAY: The area's best cones (and cubes)

Second place: Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup

$5.79

320 calories per pint

It was a tight race between Halo Top's peanut butter flavor and the winner, with just one point separating the two. One taster noted this option is "cloyingly sweet," and another found it "boring," but the rest of the comments were unanimous in their praise. "I could eat this whole pint and not feel too terrible," someone said. "Not a huge peanut butter fan, but this is delightful," said another. The very peanut buttery taste of this option (there are little ribbons of what appear to be peanut butter running throughout) and a perfectly pleasant consistency made it my favorite. We hear it's a favorite of fitness gurus on Instagram, and we can see why. Someone suggested mixing this option and the chocolate-flavored winner together, which seems like your best bet.

Winner: So Delicious Dark Chocolate Truffle

$5.49

680 calories per pint

This cashew-milk based concoction triumphed over all the rest, suggesting that if you're going to create a frozen treat light on cream and milk, a non-dairy base is probably the way to go.

Our tasters were fanatic about the So Delicious option:

"The chocolate is as good as every caloric ice cream I've ever had. I can't believe it's dairy free."

"So Delicious is SO DELICIOUS."

"Little flakes of chocolate — nice touch. Thumbs up emoji."

Those little flakes did help boost the overall yum factor here, as did a thicker consistency that made this one seem the most like "real" ice cream. It also has the most calories of the four options we tried, which should be a lesson to us all: There is a reason ice cream contains so many calories in the first place.

Comments
Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

When we started seeing ads for Nestle Toll House cookies already baked and prepackaged, I knew it was time for our tasters to get involved. They are cookie lovers, and one even has his own cookiemaking business. We found the Nestle brand and had hope...
Published: 06/18/18
Taste test: ballpark peanuts

Taste test: ballpark peanuts

For a time when my children were growing up, I thought I would spend purgatory sitting on a ballpark bleacher. Now, I cherish those days of watching my son and daughter play baseball and softball. I also have enjoyed my share of shelled peanuts. Noth...
Published: 06/11/18
Taste test: Swiss cheese

Taste test: Swiss cheese

Itís the time of year when the living is easy, unless youíre the one who has to make sure the cupboards and refrigerator are stocked for hungry children home from school all day. Once my children were old enough to fend for themselves, I made sure I ...
Updated one month ago
Taste test: Canned artichoke hearts

Taste test: Canned artichoke hearts

One of the food channel hosts did a whole episode recently about cooking with pantry staples. With hurricane season approaching, itís a good idea to stock up on ingredients that donít need to be refrigerated or frozen. This week, after judges shared ...
Updated one month ago
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Updated one month ago