Welcome back to our grocery store snack roundup! The only series that gathers a bunch of random new (and new to us) treats from our local grocery stores (and the internet) in an effort to see if they’re worth your time and money. Why do we do this? Well, we’ve all been there, scanning the grocery store aisles for a few extra snacks to make that market run of essentials seem a little more exciting.
Do you try the macaroni & cheese-infused ice cream to see if it’s as bad as you assume? Or do you just play it safe and go with your favorite variety of chocolate?
That’s why you have us — to help sort through those life-altering quandaries. Since we’re deep into summer right now, we’ve decided to theme this roundup around ice cream. We’ll include a few more snacks we’re digging on, but the focus is going to be on ice cream. So scan our list and future out what to indulge in!
Van Leeuwen — Kraft Macaroni & Cheese French Ice Cream (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price: $12
I am by no means a fan of stunt food. Jelly Bellies that taste like vomit, food crafted for Instagram, almost every “food hack” on TikTok — it holds no appeal to me. So when my editor tasked me with seeking out this Kraft Macaroni & Cheese flavored ice cream from Van Leeuwen’s, I was… less than thrilled. Then I remembered Van Leeuwen makes some damn good ice cream and being a food writer is an insanely dope privilege that I shouldn’t complain about.
Still, an ice cream that tastes like mac & cheese is downright intimidating, with a high “gross” potential. Luckily, this turned out to be a pretty good flavor. It tastes a lot like cheesecake ice cream. It has a distinct tanginess to it that definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like the decadence of cheesecake, this is right up your alley. What differentiates it is a pronounced sharpness — a result of the cheddar, no doubt. After the initial shock and surprise, the ice cream really starts to grow on you.
If you’re still too scared to try this, we’ve got a hack for you (better than anything on TikTok): go the extra mile and utilize some chocolate syrup and crushed nuts on top. The salty-sweet connection will win you over.
The Bottom Line
Way better than a mac & cheese ice cream has any right to be. Great for fans of cheesecake ice cream who want something a little different.
Tillamook — Udderly Chocolate (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price: $4.74
I originally picked up this ice cream as part of a blind taste test in search of the best chocolate ice cream on the market. Tillamook’s Udderly Chocolate features a swirl of chocolate and white chocolate ice creams. I thought it would be an interesting inclusion but I was dismayed to find that the ice cream has bits of chocolate shavings in it as well. That means it’s not a “plain chocolate” ice cream and I had to disqualify it from the taste test, which is really a shame because this is one of the best chocolate-centric ice creams I’ve ever had.
The white chocolate adds a nice sweet contrast to the more rich and full-bodied notes of the classic chocolate but those disqualifying chips of chocolate are really what make this ice cream shine. They’re not big enough to be something to chew on. Instead, they reveal themselves subtly, only to melt in your mouth along with the ice cream — sweet, hidden little treasures.
The Bottom Line
Probably my favorite chocolate-based ice cream currently on the market.
Hardscoop — Madagascar Vanilla (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price: $13.99 (per pint)
Now we’re into some dangerous territory here. Hardscoop is an alcoholic ice cream brand that uses a wine base to booze up their pints. Each pint contains 8% alcohol by volume, and while a single scoop isn’t enough for you to get a buzz on, this is no gimmick. Alcoholic ice cream is an easy sell, but what I appreciate the most about Hardscoop is just how premium the ice cream is. The brand didn’t cut any corners, the ice cream is thick and custard-y and each pint has a noticeable boozy smell to it.
My favorite flavor has to be the Madagascar Vanilla, because of how rich and versatile it is. A single scoop with a generous portion of chocolate syrup on top makes for a fancy restaurant dessert experience but my favorite way to enjoy Hardscoop is in the morning. A scoop or a spoonful of this stuff in your morning coffee is the perfect way to kick off a saturday. Bonus points if you have an espresso machine and you can fashion yourself a quick and easy affogato with an alcoholic edge.
The Bottom Line
A quality alcohol-infused ice cream that doesn’t cut any corners. Put a scoop in your coffee and thank us in the comments for changing your life for the better.
Breyer’s — New Cookie & Cream (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price: $4.49
Cookies & Cream ice creams almost never have a satisfying amount of cookies inside of them. I don’t want a few bites of Oreo in a scoop, I want a 50-50 split, anything less is false advertisement. I mean, “Cookies” is right in the name! Breyers has attempted to remedy this widespread ice cream lie by beefing up their Cookies & Cream with 20% more cookies — it’s not quite where I want it to be, but I appreciate the effort.
While it’s not meeting my cookie quota, this ice cream really is quite delicious. Each scoop is a beautiful marble of cream and cookie with that soft and creamy consistency Breyers always delivers. Aside from the big chunks of cookies, speckles of tiny crushed cookies are peppered throughout the mix, giving you a bit of cookie with every bite.
The Bottom Line
One of the best Cookies & Cream flavors out there in the ice cream landscape.
Nubocha Dairy-Free Gelato (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price $12
Dairy-Free ice creams just don’t hold a candle to the real stuff. The consistency is never right, and it lacks that creamy, comforting quality that a perfect scoop of ice cream on a scorching summer day has. But as far as dairy-free ice creams go… Nubocha is pretty delicious.
They manage this by getting unique with their flavors. By approaching classics with a slight twist, Nubocha is able to make a dairy-free ice cream that won’t make you miss the real thing, because it stands on its own. Its chocolate flavor doesn’t taste like your standard milk chocolate ice cream, instead, it has an earthy Abuelita Mexican chocolate quality to it. The vanilla mixes in roasted cashews. Salted Caramel shows up with bits of hazelnuts and almonds, everything is slightly altered in a way that makes them unique to the competition.
You’ll never crave have a craving for dairy-free ice cream the way you do for the real stuff, but you just might develop a craving for these unique flavor blends.
The Bottom Line
A dairy-free ice cream that delivers by daring to be different.
Madhava Organic Balsamic Vinegar (Dane Rivera)
Average Retail Price: $3.99
I know I know, it’s not ice cream, but I warned you that we’d sneak in some non-ice cream products into this list. Currently, I’m loving Madhava’s Organic Balsamic Vinegar thanks to its tart, fruity flavor, sumptuous umami quality, and versatility. Pour this on your scoop of Hardscoop and it’ll bring out notes of brown sugar and caramel with an umami finish that will turn your midnight snack into something you wouldn’t wince at paying over $10 for on a dessert menu.
The Bottom Line
Put a drizzle on your ice cream, trust us.
Pringles Scorchin’ Series (Dane Rivera)
Average Price: $1.59
Generally, I like my potato chips plain and simple. Lays Original is, in my opinion, the best chip on the market. It’s versatile, you can dip them, eat them plain, squirt some lime on them — the perfect fried potato canvas. But like every true chip head, I reserve a warm spot in my heart for Flamin’ Hot. The Scorchin’ series is basically Pringles’ version of Flamin’ Hot and for the most part, it delivers.
The full line consists of Scorchin BBQ (my least favorite, it’s just not hot), Scorchin’ Chili & Lime (It’s allllllright, but I almost always prefer fresh lime over the artificial stuff) and Scorchin’ Cheddar, which is hands down the best flavor. The spice is satisfyingly hot, it lives up to the name “Scorchin’” and that chili pepper cheddar combination just works so well. It’s not as good as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Takis, but it’s far superior to all of the Baked Flamin’ Hot products on the market.
You got to give it to Pringles: they know how to bake a chip.
To take things to the next level, squirt some fresh lime on the Scorchin’ Cheddar and you’ve got the best of both worlds.
The Bottom Line
A Truly hot, truly delicious baked potato chip.
Jeni’s — Savannah Buttermint (Steve Bramucci)
Average Price: $12
We usually do a “best new ice cream” list each summer and I crown a winner. This year, Dane has been working the ice cream beat. We may still pull off that list, but if we don’t I’ll say it here: This is the best ice cream flavor I’ve tasted since the pandemic started. And I taste a lot of ice cream.
Buttermints are clearly the best of the “grandma’s coffee table” or “restaurant cashier station” mints — though you never see them in businesses anymore because they’re served loose. There is this pillowy softness to them and the mint tastes both “fresher” than pinwheel mints and less chemical-y.
Most “mint” ice cream is either real mint — which doesn’t make a huge impact in ice cream and is a little too herbal — or ultra fake. This flavor offers a perfect balance. And, as always with Jeni’s, the mouthfeel is 100% on point.
The Bottom Line:
The standout flavor of summer 2021. Maybe not as splashy a title as “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese,” but the taste masters being refreshing in a way all mint ice cream should but most fails at.