Lights! Camera! Popcorn! Ice Cream?
Wait a second there, Spielberg. I get that with the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics’ Choice awards packed into a two week span, January has become the de facto tie-in month for food branding to take a stroll down the red carpet. But you do realize, don’t you, that it’s January. As in, we just had a freaking polar vortex January. You’ve got to have something unique and unbelievably tasty to get me to put frozen stuff into my already frozen body in January.
Well, at the risk of also making January the de facto month for predictable food blogging puns, this year’s award for the best new ice cream flavor undoubtedly goes to Baskin-Robbins’ Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream.
I’ve got to give Baskin-Robbins credit. They do this whole “Flavor of the Month” and it’s usually something we’ve seen before – another Marvel comic book movie, if you will. A little chocolate here, some crushed up cookies there; sometimes, when they really go out on a limb, they might even add some fruit or fudge (edgy, I know.)
There’s nothing wrong with these flavors, but then again they’re hardly game-changing. Spider Man saves the world again but loses MJ? Bah! Seen it. Throw in the fact that my local Baskin-Robbins employees seem to take it as a personal insult when asked to walk the three steps from their station on the Dunkin’ Donuts side of the store to scoop ice cream on the Baskin-Robbins side, and it takes a lot for me to really get excited about their Flavor of the Month.
This month has been different. Between my unbound love of all things salty and sweet and my own experiments making kettle corn ice cream at home, I was cautiously optimistic that the film-inspired flavor would deliver just the right balance of sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy – the fantastic four of texture and flavor, if you will.
The off-beat flavor not only delivered that elusive combination, it embodied it almost as well as Tom Hanks captured Richard Phillips in Captain Phillips. It all starts with the popcorn pieces, which, interestingly enough, are made from rice. Weird, right? Well, they don’t exactly look like perfectly popped and fluffy pieces of popcorn (actually, they have a stained gold color that familiar to those who drown their popcorn at the theater’s butter dispensers), but they sure have that buttery corn taste.
For you popcorn aficionados, consider these almost like little glazed nuggets of kettle corn, except with more butter. And more butter is always better, even in the case of ice cream. It’s almost toffee-like in its effect, providing a sweet crunch that stays remarkably brittle even in the extra creamy ice cream.
What’s more, there were no signs of ice crystals or other textural defects that sometimes come with larger mix-ins. About the size of a penny, the already salty-sweet popcorn flavored crisps get an extra shot of salty-sweet from the salted caramel swirl, which also adds an element of smooth dulce de leche-like viscosity to the ice cream. The whole flavor profile, with a depth of sweetness and hint of browned butter and salt, even elevates the lowly cake cone. Like a nominee for best supporting actress or actor, the cone actually takes on an element of – and I realize this sounds weird – pound cake flavor when eaten with the creamy, buttery ice cream base.
Granted, I like ice cream. But it takes a lot to get me to really, really, really like ice cream in January. But, as Brooklyn Nine-Nine pulled out a stunning surprise as the best new comedy at the Golden Globes (hilarious show, by the way), so Baskin Robbins’ Movie Theater Popcorn ice cream steals the show amidst over some otherwise worthy ice cream flavors. I just hope they bring it back in, shall we say, more conducive months for ice cream eating.
(Nutrition Facts – 2.5 oz scoop – 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: Baskin-Robbins Movie Theater Popcorn Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2.5 oz Kid’s Scoop
Purchased at: Baskin-Robbins
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy, buttery, salty-sweet popcorn pieces have a toffee-like effect. Plentiful salted caramel swirl. Creamy, clean mouthfeel. Raising the mere cake cone to the herculean dessert height of pound cake.
Cons: Eating ice cream in January. Predictable film puns. Awesome source of saturated fat.