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Taste test: vanilla ice cream

Vanilla ice cream in a party dish.

Vanilla ice cream in a party dish.

When it comes to a cool treat to beat the summer heat, vanilla ice cream hits the spot. But picking a good one from the rows of options in local grocery store freezers can be hit or miss. Our panelists took on the challenge of trying 14 brands of plain vanilla ice cream. It didn't take long to find a few winners. Judges preferred scoops that could hold up under a warm slice of pie and those with bold, vanilla bean flavor.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
United Dairy Farmers 89Winn-Dixie 83Haagen-Dazs 80

This "homemade" variety from United Dairy Farmers looked like something from an ice cream shop. It tasted as good as it looked. "It's sweet and creamy, with real vanilla flavor," one panelist said. "It's silky on the tongue with a perfect aftertaste of real vanilla." Another described the color as buttermilk with an almost orange tint. "It's very rich with great vanilla flavor and a good balance of sweet and creamy," she said. Judges said this brand would be particularly delicious on a slice of fruit pie because of its bold flavor and sturdy texture.The store's brand of ice cream was deep beige and creamy-looking, with a buttery rich, vanilla flavor. Judges raved about the silky consistency of the frozen treat. "It's amazingly perfect," one taster said. "Love it!" Another described his serving as "mooofalicious!" He said he liked the ice cream because it wasn't as sweet as some of the competition. "It would be a great topping on a warm, just-out-of-the-oven, peach cobbler," he added. "It melts very smooth."Judges said this popular ice cream maker's vanilla variety tasted homemade and hand-churned. "It's got great color and nice, sweet taste," one said. A couple said the texture reminded them of soft-serve ice cream. "It's really cool and refreshing," another panelist said. "It looks scoop-shop rich," said a judge who liked the medium beige "warm" color and the richness of the vanilla flavor. "It's not too sweet and the vanilla lingers on the palate," she said.

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.
Shopping information$5.99 for 1.5 quarts from the Fresh Market.$3.29 for 1.75 quarts from Winn-Dixie.$6.68 for 28 ounces from Walmart.

Also Sampled: Edy's ($5.49 for 1.5 quarts from Publix, 65 points); Prestige ($4.79 for 1.5 quarts from Winn-Dixie, 47 points); Blue Bunny ($3.50 for 1.75 quarts from Walmart, 57 points); Friendly's ($4.79 for 1.5 quarts from Winn-Dixie, 48 points); Blue Bell ($2.15 for 1 pint from Publix, 59 points); Ben & Jerry's ($3.50 for 1 pint from Walmart, 70 points); Market Pantry ($2.79 for 1.5 quarts from Target, 49 points); Publix Premium ($4.79 for a half a gallon, 68 points); Great Value ($2.88 for 1.5 quarts from Walmart, 64 points); Sam's Choice ($3.64 for 1 quart from Walmart, 54 points); and Breyers ($4.99 for 1.5 quarts from Publix, 75 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeHalf cupHalf cupHalf cup
Fat/Fiber7g / 0g7g / 0g17g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium15g / 50mg13g / 50mg19g / 50mg
Carbs/Protein20g / 4g16g / 2g20g / 4g

Taste test: vanilla ice cream 06/30/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 30, 2014 4:04pm]
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