As you stand in line for ice cream, you can narrow down your choices to these top treats.
I tasted more than 40 individually wrapped bars, bought with cash from the noisy, off-key ice cream trucks that circle my block, as well as the bodegas in my New York City neighborhood in Brooklyn.
I was looking for big, summery flavors; satisfying, nostalgic textures; and the kind of general resilience that is necessary for a single frozen treat to thrive in a packed chest freezer. I went for everything — novelty character pops, classic sandwiches, ice cream bars co-branded with candy bars.
These are the ones I liked best.
7. Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Bar
Strawberry season may be an ephemeral joy, but the season for strawberry shortcake bars never, ever ends. The candied tang of artificial fruit is elegantly coded into its soft cake crumbs. This is a strategically layered delight (not technically ice cream — rather, a “dessert bar”). It can be surprisingly delicate when it’s unwrapped, meets the heat and turns distressingly floppy and gelatinous. The only way to avoid this: Eat fast.
6. Popsicle Firecracker
The flavors are cherry, lemon and raspberry. The colors are red, white and blue. These three pleasantly sour ices, all stacked on one narrow stick, make up a classic cheap thrill that shouldn’t be overlooked. On the hottest days of the year, even those averse to high-fructose corn syrup and food coloring should let a freezer-burned Firecracker into their lives, if only for the joy of sticking out a blue-stained tongue at the end.
5. Nestlé Drumstick Lil’ Drums Vanilla with Chocolatey Swirls
There’s a beautiful ritual to opening up a single, individually wrapped cone — peeling away the thick paper disc that protects the ice cream top, then carefully unfurling the paper that protects the sides of the cone. The smell of frozen peanuts hits you first, then the ice cream that tastes suspiciously like cold butter, intricately swirled with crisp, waxy chocolate. The best part is the ritual’s finish: a final bite of the crisp cone’s tip, filled with the tiny wedge of chocolate that kept you safe from melting drips.
4. Klondike Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bar
Unlike many of the classic ice cream bars with thick, armorlike chocolate layers that crack apart in giant pieces and slide to the ground, Klondike has mastered a fine, delicate outer layer that shatters against your teeth and clings to the filling. Inside, the mint chocolate flavor is clean, chemical and bright, creating the illusion of being colder than it is, and the ice cream is light, with an almost frothy, foamy quality.
3. Good Humor Giant Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich
The ice cream in this perfect sandwich is impossibly airy, dissolving with immediacy in your mouth like a frozen, vanilla-perfumed breeze. The cookies are thin, soft, sticking a little to your fingers and the roof of your mouth. This is an exemplary ice cream sandwich.
2. Fudgsicle Original Fudge Pop
It’s not quite ice cream, but then again it’s so much creamier than an ice pop. The Fudgsicle is a singular treat with all the sugary sweet, whisper-soft chocolate flavors of industrial chocolate milk (rather than actual chocolate, or actual milk). This is, of course, delicious.
1. Chipwich Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwich
At a glance, the Chipwich doesn’t seem like anything special: two chocolate chip cookies sandwiching a fat layer of vanilla ice cream, edged with small, crunchy chocolate chips. But like every great sandwich, it’s constructed with great attention to proportion and texture. Right out of the freezer, this sandwich has an ideal softness all the way through. The cookie is frozen but completely tender — exactly as tender as the ice cream itself. This means that when you bite in, everything yields easily, at the same pace, and nothing is squished out. It’s this, in addition to the treat’s mellow, comforting flavors and the dense creaminess of its ice cream, that makes the Chipwich such a great and reliable pleasure.