This article is the archived version of a report that appeared in July 2009 Consumer Reports magazine.
By law, a "light" ice cream must have one-third the calories or half the fat of a regular ice cream that's specified on the label. But there's no law that it has to taste as good. So, does it?
Our trained taste testers compared three lights with their regular brandmates. They also tried Häagen-Dazs Five, which isn't technically light but has a third less fat than regular Häagen-Dazs.
All of the better-for-you versions are quite tasty. The lower-fat Häagen-Dazs was actually a bit better than the regular alternative, and the two Breyers ice creams were very close in quality.
If you're interested in literal or figurative belt-tightening, buy the lighter versions of Breyers or Edy's (Dreyer's in the West). Per half-cup serving, they cost less than half as much as those from Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's and have far fewer calories—a reminder that "light" is relative. The lighter Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's we tried actually have more calories and sugars than the regular Edy's and Breyers.