Willing to splurge for a tasty frozen treat? Then look no further than Haagen-Dazs. The famed ice cream maker edged out the competition in recent taste tests of vanilla frozen yogurts and butter pecan ice creams that were performed by ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.
ShopSmart’s top picks for chocolate and vanilla ice creams have remained unchanged since its last test, with Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s clinging to their respective titles. So this year, testers decided to taste vanilla frozen yogurt, the most popular flavor, and butter pecan ice cream, which is among the best-selling flavors.
ShopSmart deemed Haagen-Dazs vanilla frozen yogurt worth the splurge. Per serving, it costs $1.25, and while it has more calories and sugars than runners-up from Blue Bunny and TCBY, the real vanilla and fresh dairy flavors come through. And although a bit icy, it melted just right.
Blue Bunny Vanilla Bean frozen yogurt was a very close second in ShopSmart’s tests, noted for its vanilla puddinglike flavor. It costs 33 cents per serving – less than a third of the price of Haagen-Dazs. Newcomer TCBY Classic Vanilla Bean frozen yogurt received high marks for its vanilla-custard flavor and costs 37 cents per serving, but it earned third place because it was a bit icy and gummy.
When it came to butter pecan ice cream, Haagen-Dazs again claimed top honors in ShopSmart’s tests. It is described as decadently delicious – rich and eggy, with flavorful bits of nuts. But the fat and calories were off the charts, and at a cost of $1.12 per serving, it was among the most expensive of the butter pecan ice creams that were tested.
Great Value (Walmart) Butter Pecan ice cream, a ShopSmart bargain buy at 27 cents a serving, was rich, with a big butterscotch flavor and roasted pecan pieces, and it was almost as yummy as Haagen-Dazs’ Butter Pecan. Blue Bunny Premium Butter Pecan ice cream, which costs 35 cents a serving, rounded out the top three for its tasty flavor, but it lost points for being sparse on nuts and a bit icy.
ShopSmart’s secret shoppers bought hundreds of containers of ice cream and frozen yogurt at stores in the tri-state area for its taste testers in Yonkers, N.Y., so they spent a lot of time in the freezer aisle. Here are a few trends they spotted while shivering in grocery stores:
• Shrinking container sizes. Ice cream containers have been on a serious diet in recent years. Some shrank from a pint to 14 ounces and from 1.75 quarts to 1.5 quarts. Blue Bell is the only tested product that still sells a half-gallon tub.
• Frozen dairy desserts. Say what? That’s what ShopSmart’s shoppers said when they started seeing “frozen dairy dessert” pop up on some Breyers packages, including the butter pecan that was tested. The ice cream maker says it contains less fat, so the company can no longer call it ice cream, which, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s definition, must have at least 10 percent milk fat.
• Lower-cal frozen snacks. Haagen-Dazs has a new line of creamy gelatos that have slightly less fat and fewer calories than ice cream. They come in yummy flavors such as limoncello and dark chocolate chip.