Ice Cream Sandwiches
In its most basic form, an ice-cream sandwich is simply a slice of vanilla ice cream between two layers of soft chocolate wafer. We found nine different versions of ice-cream sandwiches at our local supermarkets, including a few low-fat varieties, an organic one, and even a lactose-free brand. We asked our test kitchen tasters to tell us which of the nine they liked best.
We first asked tasters to consider the ice cream. Five of our ice-cream sandwiches were all made with full-fat vanilla ice cream, while three brands were made with low-fat ice cream. One was made from soy protein. Could tasters tell the difference? Absolutely.
The cake component was just as important. Tasters wanted wafers that were soft and chewy, with a deep chocolate flavor.
Not surprisingly, tasters liked the sandwiches made with full-fat ice cream best. The overall winner contained the most fat in our tasting. Tasters liked its rich, creamy, silky, soft-serve-style ice cream, which was complemented by the “distinct chocolate taste” and chewy texture of the wafer.
The runner-up, also a full-fat contender, pleased tasters with its creaminess and clean vanilla flavor. Most found the wafer chewy, sweet, and chocolaty. Even the leanest of the nondiet sandwiches earned fans; most tasters liked the creamy texture of the ice cream and the brownielike flavor of the wafer.
The low-fat ice-cream sandwiches were unilaterally rejected by tasters. Most complaints involved the thin, watery ice creams and the bland, “artificial” taste of both ice cream and wafer. But the dairy-free sample fared the worst—tasters thought the soy-based ice cream tasted artificial, “funky,” and old.
While conducting our ice cream taste tests during a particularly hot week in Boston, we were struck with the idea for an additional test. We took all our sandwiches outside and observed how well they held up in challenging ice-cream-eating weather—a humid 86-degree day.
The low-fat sandwiches melted first, all of them morphing into watery, dripping messes within the first two and a half minutes. The regular ice creams fared a little better—fat is a natural stabilizer—but most began softening after a few minutes. An organic brand was the ultimate winner. After 10 minutes in the heat, the ice cream slice was intact and we were still able to hold the sandwich comfortably, prompting one tester to ask, “Is that even ice cream?”
Our conclusion? While some light foods have a place in our calorie-conscious culture, we’d rather enjoy ice-cream sandwiches in their full-fat glory.
Our favorite premium extra-virgin olive oil from a previous tasting, Columela is composed of a blend of intense Picual, mild Hojiblanca, Ocal, and Arbequina olives. This oil took top honors for its fruity flavor and excellent balance. Tasters praised its “big olive aroma, big olive taste” with a “buttery” flavor that is “sweet” and “full,” with a “peppery finish.” One taster said: “It’s very green and fresh—like a squeezed olive.” Another simply wrote: “Fantastic.”
|Spain||$19 for 17 oz|
Tasters noted this oil’s flavor was “much deeper than the other samples,” describing it as “fruity, with a slight peppery finish,” “buttery undertones,” and a “clean, green taste” that was “aromatic, with a good balance.” “It has the flavor that some good EVOOs have,” said one admiring taster.
|Italy||$19.99 for 500 ml ($39.98 per liter)|
Virtually tied for second place, this oil was deemed “round and buttery,” with a “light body” and flavor that was “briny and fruity,” “very fine and smooth,” and “almost herbal,” with “great balance.” “Good olive flavor. I could smell it and taste it,” approved one taster. In a word, “pleasant.”
|Italy||$17.99 for 750 ml ($23.98 per liter)|
|Recommended with Reservations|
A clear step down from the top oils, tasters noted “overall mild” flavor and “very little aroma,” with only a “hint of green olive” and a “hint of spiciness at the end.” In pasta, it was initially “not complex,” but gradually “bloomed in your mouth.” Overall, it was “worthy of a second bite.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$12.49 for 750 ml ($16.65 per liter)|
While some tasters found this oil “sweet” and “buttery” with “medium body” and “slight spice at the end,” others complained that it had “zero olive flavor” and was “so floral it’s almost like eating perfume”; still others noted a “bitter” aftertaste. In pasta, it was “extremely mild” to the point of being “boring.”
|Italy, Greece, Spain, and Tunisia||$10.99 for 750 ml ($14.65 per liter)|
Comments: The best comments tasters could muster were “mild” and “neutral.” Some liked it on pasta (though one called it “Snoozeville”), but complaints were myriad: “metallic,” “soapy,” “briny,” “hints of dirt.” Carped one taster, “I can’t imagine what is in here, but they have a nerve calling it EVOO.”
|Spain||$13.99 for 1 liter|
For complete access to the results,
start a 14-Day Free Trial.
Start Your 14-Day Free Trial Membership
Every Recipe. Every Rating. Every Video from
Every Magazine & Every Episode!
- 8 years of Cook’s Country Foolproof Recipes
- Complete Cook’s Country TV Video Library
- 2,900+ Equipment Ratings and Ingredient Taste Tests
- Step-by-Step Technique Photos
- Save Favorites, Create Menus, Print Shopping Lists