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Which frozen treats taste the best?

Our tasters checked out 21 fruit bars and ice cream bars and sandwiches

Consumer Reports magazine: July 2012

“Good Humor” may conjure happy memories of summer days when you were a kid. But that was then. Our latest tests of frozen treats found that the dark-chocolate Good Humor bars sold in stores have a thin, waxy, crumbly coating over ice cream with flavors of artificial vanilla and a hint of wooden stick. Our trained tasters found a bunch of better options among 21 strawberry fruit bars, chocolate-covered ice cream bars, and ice cream sandwiches. See the Ratings, below.

Taste. The best have the flavors of real fruit, vanilla, or chocolate. The lower-rated have drawbacks such as artificial-tasting flavors and gummy or chalky texture.

  • Fruit bars: 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) is excellent, with large chunks of fruit and a big, fresh-strawberry flavor. Whole Fruit, Dreyer’s/Edy’s, and Blue Bell are very good, with a nice fruit flavor, though they’re slightly gummy.
  •  Ice cream bars: Häagen-Dazs and Dove are rich, with strong dairy and vanilla tastes and a flavorful dark-chocolate coating. The Häagen-Dazs ice cream is especially dense; Dove has a thicker chocolate coating. The coating of Julie’s Organic has a cocoa note and is slightly chalky.
  • Ice cream sandwiches: Walgreens Old Fashioned is the only tested sandwich that doesn’t taste of artificial flavors or have a gummy texture. Its wafers are soft and cakelike, with a big cocoa flavor.

Nutrition. The fruit bars have 70 to 110 calories and are fat-free. (FYI, ice pops we looked at—Popsicle Air Heads—have similar calories ounce for ounce but no fruit.) The sandwiches have 100 to 180 calories and about 1 to 6 grams of fat; the bars top out at 280 calories and 20 grams of fat. The treats have about 10 to 25 grams of sugars. Some sugars, including fructose and lactose (from fruit and milk), are naturally occurring; others are added and make for empty calories. The products with dietetic names—Skinny Cow and Weight Watchers—didn’t necessarily have fewer calories and scored lower than most.

Bottom line. Try one of the eight excellent or very good frozen treats. Ice cream bars generally cost slightly more than the other types. Some bars and sandwiches look bigger than others, but most weigh 2 to 3 ounces.

How did dairy-free fare?

So Delicious Dairy Free Vanilla Minis sandwiches aren’t so delicious. The innards (organic soy milk is the first ingredient) have a mild artificial-vanilla flavor, and the wafers are soft and sticky. Tofutti Dairy Free Cuties Vanilla sandwiches consist of gummy, artificially flavored innards (corn syrup solids, soy, and tofu) between sticky wafers that taste a little stale.
Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the July 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Just Desserts: Best Frozen Treats."
   

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