Munchies With the Musicians: Ice Cream Truck Treats

by Ed Magdziak • July 18, 2021 • FoodComments (0)32

When you were a kid and school was out for summer there was one sound that was actual music to one’s ears. You would hear it a block or two away at first but your ears were tuned for it. Those ding-a-ling bells of the ice cream truck. I remember begging my mom for a dollar (yes, I’m old) so I could get some ice cream from the truck that came down our block in Clifton every evening. And the choices. The colorful posters on the truck listing all the varieties was mind boggling.

Now that it’s summer and National Ice Cream Month is upon us, we hatched a plan to go back and try all these ice creams as adults. Let’s see if they taste as good as we remember. Or maybe memories taste better than the real thing? Only one way to find out: a taste test!

Gathering all the ice cream needed for the review was extremely fun in itself. We visited a few ice cream trucks and got some classics but had to supplement these by visiting some convenience stores as well to fill out the line-up. Apparently the recent heat wave made for a run on classic ice cream bars. I am still kicking myself we couldn’t find the classic Bomb Pop and had to settle for Scribblers. But more on that later.

Alice made up tasting note charts with all the treats listed and space for ratings and a little write up. Since we do a taste test every year at our shore house, this came naturally. 16 frozen treats in all were listed and the taste test was ready.

Joining us on our ice cream panel were musicians Chris Fox of Ruby Bones and Chris Gennone of CR and The Nones. They were both as excited as we were as the night of the review finally arrived. Gennone, who reviews sandwiches for YDKJ as Between Two Slices, also shares a nostalgia for ice cream trucks. “When I lived in Jersey City a few years back, one of the highlights of my summer was hearing the ice cream truck blast its nostalgic music-box theme song down the street. Hearing that music on a Tuesday night was the only possible motivation to pull me from the deepest depths of my couch.” He continued, “I’ve seen grown men and women run after the ice cream truck, as it slowly floated down the block and around the corner in the summer night. So when I was asked to help review a variety of ice cream truck staples, I didn’t hesitate. I ran.”

With much giddiness we cracked some beers and got down to business.

Strawberry Shortcake Bar

Ed: This is a classic. The taste is very, very strawberry. In your face strawberry. However the strong taste was a tad artificial. That being said it was quite enjoyable and it looks fantastic. 7.5
Alice: Strawberry was nice and tart and the dough balls married nicely with the tart middle. If it was a little more natural tasting, it would have been top-rated. 7.0
Fox: Everyone got mad when I didn’t like this one. It’s fine, but with a very noticeable artificial fruit flavor that seriously detracts from the overall experience. 6.0
Chris: I’ve always loved the Strawberry Shortcake Bar, even though the strawberry flavor is incredibly artificial and kind of nasty, but delicious. This one however failed to raise the bar from my memories. 6.6

Mickey Mouse Bar

Ed: I admit it. I wasn’t expecting much from the mouse. I’m not a huge fan of Disney or Mickey Mouse to be honest. Too saccharine for me, who was raised on Scooby Doo and Woody Woodpecker. So I went in with some bias. This was a winner. I loved the way the first bite is the vanilla which gives way to the creamy chocolate. And biting the ears of first was a visceral thrill. 9.5
Alice: Great vanilla ice cream taste and good quality chocolate. This was a surprise favorite and I would actually get it again even though I hate Disney. 9.0
Fox: Never could have guessed this would be a top contender, but here we are. Sticky Mickey is the mouse that brings down the house. I guess we’ll keep giving our money to Disney forever, but it’s still better than Bezos. 9.0
Chris: Biggest surprise of the night was the unexpected deliciousness of the Mickey Mouse-Dove bar rip off. The Mickey Mouse bar tasted exactly like a Dove bar but it was actually nice to bite off a couple of crunchy chocolatey ears Tyson-style before sinking my teeth into his face. 8.6

Snickers Ice Cream Bar

Ed: Looks like a turd but sure doesn’t taste like one. It is unequivocally better than the normal Snickers bar. Has a real adult taste. A refined ice cream treat. Felt like I should be eating it in a library while wearing a smoking jacket. 8.5
Alice: Perfectly salty and smoky caramel with whole crunchy peanuts. Perfect thickness of chocolate coating and good ice cream. This is the dream ice cream bar. I also love that it comes in a regular size and a king size bar. Options for the amount of dessert you want. 10.0
Fox: Looks like a Snickers, tasted like a Snickers with ice cream in it. It’s just a winner. No comments from the peanut gallery, please! 8.0
Chris: I’ve actually never tried a Snickers ice cream bar before, and damn I’ve been missing out. This will sound like an advertisement, but that crunchy chocolate, caramel nougat was incredibly rich and decadent. While the first bite was pure bliss, eating the whole thing may have been too much. 8.3

Good Humor “The Original”

Ed: BAD!! Bad, tasteless vanilla. Bad, odd tasting chocolate. How can you screw up a simple chocolate coated vanilla bar. This was truly garbage on a stick. Original doesn’t always mean good. 2.0
Alice: Ice milk texture instead of ice cream. The chocolate didn’t melt in the mouth and was tasteless. The ice cream mostly tasted like the stick. My main note was, “HARD PASS.” 3.0
Fox: “The Original?” See, this is why you can’t live in the “good ol’ days.” This 50’s throwback tasted like pure popsicle stick. Embrace the future, Good Humor. 3.0
Chris: You’d think something so simple and “classic” would be so tasty, but it wasn’t at all. You could taste the refrigerator. The ice cream was too white, too dense, too fake. And the chocolate was an afterthought. Just an incredibly dull, generic ice cream. 3.7

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich

Ed: I though this would be better than it was. The cookie was the star. The vanilla was somewhat understated. It was just OK. The concept is great and I can see why so many cookie places now make ice cream sandwiches. 7.0
Alice: Cookie was dry but in a good way. Didn’t melt all over your hands but was easy to bite into. Ice cream could have been creamier and I missed the Chipwich’s mini chips around the edges. 8.0
Fox: To be expected, the cookie is the best part here while the vanilla ice cream is a bit forgettable in comparison. One heck of a cookie though. 7.0
Chris: If this was a cookie ranking, it’d be in the top 3. The cookie in this sandwich was delicious. It was crispy, chocolatey, and fresh, but the ice cream was a different story. It tasted a little too artificial and didn’t have the right texture to go with the cookie. 7.4

Oreo Cone

Ed: I am not the biggest fan of the Oreo cookie but it is still pretty good. It has a very distinctive taste. This did not taste like an Oreo cookie in any way. I thought it actually had a coffee-like flavor. When you put Oreo on the label the product should taste like Oreo. 6.5
Alice: Great ice cream that actually tasted like Oreo stuffing. The cone was just chocolate wafer and I was expecting an Oreo flavor and texture.  Disappointing that it wasn’t Oreo enough. 7.5
Fox: What a disappointment. The one requirement on something labeled Oreo is that it tastes like a damn Oreo. This tasted like coffee. Damn fine coffee, but NOT OREO. 6.0
Chris: The Oreo cone was a pretty big disappointment for me. Now you’d think the cone was made of Oreo flavored cookies or something, right? Wrong. It tasted like plain, bland chocolate wafer cookies with barely any Oreos blended in the ice cream. 5.7

Original Klondike Bar

Ed: “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” Um, I don’t know. Nothing too exerting as I am not gaga over it. The chocolate was good but the vanilla wasn’t that tasty. Seems to be happening a lot in this experiment. Also, no stick made this a sloppy eat. 7.0
Alice: Good classic texture with the thick chocolate on top and thin on the bottom. Ice cream had a little aftertaste and I’m used to having the non-standard flavors so this one was a little bland. Mint Chocolate Chip and Heath Klondikes for the bigger wins. 8.0
Fox: Rich chocolate aftertaste, solid ice cream, but still beaten by Mickey Mouse. 8.5
Chris: What would I do for a Klondike Bar? I’d review 15 other ice cream bars and rank it in the top 5. Klondike Bars have been a personal favorite for years. While it didn’t have the shock factor as the Mickey Mouse Bar or the Snickers, the Klondike is tried and true. 8.1

Ice Cream Sandwich

Ed: Now this is more like it! A bona fide rock star in the ice cream world and for good reason. For once excellent vanilla flavor and the chocolate is rich like a devil’s food cake. So many fun ways to eat this as well. I am a fan of the lick the vanilla around the edges first. Then take small bites along the same edges. When you are done, eat the chocolate bits that have adhered to your fingers. Is that too graphic? Too bad. Simply incredible. 10.0
Alice: The only problem was the cookie could have been a little firmer.  Otherwise, this is the one you marry. You date the hot Snickers Bars and Drumsticks. You marry the one you could enjoy every day. Easy to eat, great ice cream, tasty cookie, and not too big. Perfection. For life. 9.5
Fox: Nothing if not efficient. If you want ice cream, this classic holds up with the best of them. Rich flavor, good cookie, soft and rewarding like a hug from Grandma. 8.9
Chris: Another staple that’s so basic, but when I thought about it more, I couldn’t point out any problems. The ice cream was soft and creamy, almost melting in my mouth with the soft chocolate sandwich sponge. Little “wow factor”, but flawless. 8.9

Fruit Twister

Ed: Our first non-chocolate entry since the beginning and a pleasant surprise. Upon opening the package the smell of fruit was very, very strong. The strawberry was much more forward than the blueberry which lingered in the background. It is an attractive bar with the concentric spirals. Did not think it would be as good as it was. 8.0
Alice: This was surprisingly good. The fruit middle was hard on the teeth because it was basically a popsicle inside. It was weird but tasty. 7.0
Fox: No, not my stripper name, but a middle of the road sorbet treat brought higher by the presence of real fruit in the middle. 6.5
Chris: The sherbet portion of the Fruit Twister was tasty, but the rest of the bar was icy and boring, to say the least. 5.1

Choco Taco

Ed: Super underwhelming. The cone/shell part was soft and practically flavorless. This should be better. Not much else to say. 3.0
Alice: It was dessert in name only. It wasn’t pleasant at all. Perhaps I was looking forward to it too much. The shell was chewy and tasteless and the ice cream was skimpy and not memorable. What a disappointment.  Ice cream taco should be delicious and exciting! 1.0
Fox: Don’t believe the hype. Worst Klondike item tried, underwhelming in every way with a mushy shell to boot. 5.0
Chris: I’ve eaten plenty of Choco Tacos, but this one fell short. The ice cream was tasty but the Choco Taco shell was stale and soft, ruining the experience. 6.3

Chocolate Eclair Bar

Ed: I had high hopes but alas it was just OK. Chocolate tasted a bit like cardboard. The fudge in the middle was the best part. 4.5
Alice: Taste was good except for the lasting taste of stick. The dough balls around the outside are a weird texture but taste OK. 5.0
Fox: Lots of stick flavor in this one, but otherwise solid and as advertised. 5.8
Chris: Nothing stood out in this sandwich for it to be good. The fudge in the middle was good, but otherwise it was forgettable. 5.4

Toasted Almond Bar

Ed: A favorite for as long as I can remember. My mom used to buy these when I was very young and of course as a young child your first reaction to anything almond is ewww I’m not gonna like that. But from the start the toasted almond taste of this bar was music to my taste buds. Look at me eating this adult dessert. My love of the toasted almond bar is infinite. 9.5
Alice: Almond taste is prevalent (instead of stick taste) but very artificial and strong. 6.5
Fox: I don’t care about almond flavored things when peanuts exist, but this was the best of the Dolly Madison offerings. Solid flavor that’s weirdly complimented by that stick flavor we all know so well. 7.0
Chris: Another ice cream bar that was new to me. The toasted almonds really gave the ice cream a nice smoky taste. I know these were almonds but the bar itself tasted like pistachio ice cream, which is my favorite of all time. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. 7.7

Scribblers Ice Pop

Ed: Hahahahahahahahahah. No. 0.5
Alice: Terrible taste. Terrible texture. I think this melted before we bought it so I hope we didn’t get an accurate reflection of a Scribbler because it was terrible. 2.0
Fox: Smite this from the Earth. A Flavor Ice wannabe with frostbite. Gross gross gross. 1.0
Chris:  I had no clue what the Scribbler was beforehand, and I still don’t know, or care. The Scribbler was incredibly icy, a little fruity, but looked and tasted like a complete mess. 3.2

SpongeBob SquarePants Flavored Ice

Ed: We all couldn’t stop laughing when we opened this one. Holy hell. This is the face of nightmares. But…wow was this good. Really, really good. The flavors of cotton candy and fruit punch is an amazing combination and not overly sweet. And the eyes are gumballs! Very impressive. I would buy this again. That face though… 8.0
Alice: My first thought, “Oh fuck, I like the SpongeBob.” Great fruit taste, the cotton candy was unexpected and pretty accurate tasting. Even the gumball eyes were pretty good. I can’t believe I would get this again ….  but I would. 8.5
Fox: This is not for adults. A sugar bomb to wind up toddlers like spinning tops. To its credit, it’s exactly as advertised, with a solid cotton candy meets lemon flavor and gumball eyes that are indeed gum. 7.0
Chris: The SpongeBob Bar looked like the kind of stuff nightmares are made of. Even though the character’s face is embedded somewhere in my childhood memories, this ice cream bar barely resembled the iconic cartoon character. After a couple bites though, I was pleasantly surprised how fruity, bright, and interesting the flavors were. Even the eye balls were bubble gum pieces. 7.1

Rainbow Pop Ups

Ed: Um, er, hmm. Well, it tasted pretty good. Nice sherbet flavors. Tasted a bit like Smarties which is a good thing. Nice aftertaste. 7.0
Alice: GREAT flavor and texture. Very fruity mixed with creaminess that you know Push Ups will deliver. It was very small though. 8.3
Fox: Yabba dabba do, this is a great sorbet! Super creamy, and arguably better than 8 year old me remembers it being. I might miss the Flintstones branding, but understand it’s not exactly relevant 60 years later. 8.0
Chris: Remember Flintstones push pops? These were similar and brought back some waves of nostalgia. 6.1

Triple Chocolate King Size Drumstick

Ed: This was outstanding. Triple chocolate awesomeness. The cone was the best of the cone based selections. 8.5
Alice: It was too big for me to get all the time but the cone was perfectly crunchy and the fudge pieces throughout the great-tasting ice cream were terrific. All around solid choice if you’re looking for a big dessert with all the flavors. 9.4
Fox: God almighty, if I’m ever on death row I’m gonna eat 40 of these and explode in the electric chair. Absolutely delicious, creamy, rich, wonderful, and right next to Mickey. 9.0
Chris: I have to admit that I knew this would be my favorite before trying the rest, and I was right. The drumstick is so simple, yet so magical. It’s the perfect blend of creamy chocolate and vanilla ice cream all the way down to the very bottom of a crunchy cone. Some cones can be stale or soggy, this one was perfect. 9.1

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TOP 3

Ice Cream Cream Sandwich
Mickey Mouse Bar
Drumstick

BOTTOM 3

Original Good Humor Bar
ChocoTaco
Scribbler



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