REVIEW: Milk Bar Ice Cream

Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints

If The History Channel created a “Food That Built America ’00s Edition” episode, Milk Bar and its founder Christina Tosi would be top billing. I mean, c’mon: you can’t deny Compost Cookies, Cereal Milk Soft Serve with Cornflake Crunch, and Crack Pie were unlike anything we’d ever seen until she burst onto the scene.

The first Milk Bar bakery opened in NYC in 2008, and I would have kind friends haul back packages of cookies for me until I could see that neon pink cursive sign for myself years later.

So, what’s the big deal? Tosi’s James Beard-winning culinary genius is tapping into nostalgic flavors like cereal milk and creating the perfect * chef’s kiss * balance of sweet and salty. I’ve found this true in all her delicious desserts at her flagship bakeries to her newest grocery store items.

The latest to hit shelves are Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints in four glorious flavors that are sure to make OG and new fans giddy. Here’s the rundown:

  • Birthday Cake: A love letter to Milk Bar’s signature sprinkle flecked layer cake with unfrosted sides, this flavor brings the same delicious layering effect with birthday cake-flavored ice cream, birthday crumbs, and ribbons of birthday frosting. All the celebration, any day of the week.
  • Cereal Milk: The flavor that started it all. Cousins to the Milk Bar bakery-favorite soft serve offering, this pint combines a Cereal Milk ice cream base with salty-sweet cornflake crunch. Tastes just like the bottom of your cereal bowl.
  • Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow: An ode to the bestselling cookie that combines an irresistible combination of cornflake crunch, chocolate chunks, and gooey marshmallow swirls throughout a cookie dough ice cream.
  • Milk Bar Pie: Deep vanilla ice cream swirled with a gooey butter filling and toasted oat crumble reimagines Milk Bar’s signature pie in ice cream form.

I figured they all be legit because of the Milk Bar brand. However, I also had a good feeling because the receipt detailed “Frozen Custard,” which signaled to me that this would be full flavor compared to an airy, less than 10% milkfat frozen dairy dessert.

Pie

Milk Bar Pie Ice Cream Spoon

I didn’t really know where to start, so I just dove in with the Milk Bar Pie variety. My fellow OGs know this as Crack Pie. Folks newer to Tosi’s empire may ask, “What kind of pie?!” and there ain’t no shame in that either.

I imagined that deep vanilla would be like a sweet cream ice cream, but it tasted more like caramel ice cream with the honey-like sweet notes smoothed out with a buttery richness. The oat crumble was more like crushed oats, but it cued the actual dessert’s crust very well. Unlike a cheesecake graham crust or flaky pie dough, it’s pretty flat. However, the creamy base was so dominant that the crumble didn’t taste particularly oat-like to me. All it did was get stuck in my teeth per usual with oat.

I briefly considered getting the actual dessert shipped so that I could eat a Crack Pie a la mode with Crack Pie ice cream. Excessive? Most definitely.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 220mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.

Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow

Milk Bar Cornflakes Ice Cream Spoon

But, I did try something similar with the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow (C3M)!

First, I tried it on its own and WOWZA. I could not get enough of the marshmallow flavor, which was like having ooey gooeyness goodness around the campfire without all the flame, char, and ash! The cookie dough ice cream base really complemented and brought out the ‘mallow. The rest of the ingredients helped to seal the deal. There was great texture from the chocolate chips, which were more like rectangular chunks reminiscent of Ben & Jerry’s inclusions.

Additionally, the cornflake crunch was not soggy but not a frozen flake either, so I considered it just right on the texture spectrum. And guess what? They tasted just like cornflakes. Said corn flavor was as comforting as my childhood cereal.

Milk Bar Cornflakes Ice Cream Spoon Sandwich

As Milk Bar also sells a grocery-exclusive version (read: different from the ones in their bakery) of their cookies in the same exact flavor, I decided I would also use them to make an ice cream cookie sandwich. This is not a cookie review, so I’ll just concisely say that the ice cream MADE the sandwich – the key again being the marshmallow goodness. I’d prefer to eat it on its own, though!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 110mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Cereal Milk

Milk Bar Cereal Mik Ice Cream Spoon

I was eager to try the Cereal Milk one after getting a taste of how good the cornflakes were in the C3M variety.

The pint itself really looked like the bottom of the cereal bowl with pieces of yellow cereal flakes peppered throughout. The ice cream itself was a bit more complex than just a sweet cream as I picked up on some saltiness. It wasn’t overwhelmingly so, though! I would liken it to putting a sprinkle of sea salt on a chocolate chip cookie and how that pinch really brings out the flavors.

When I had a spoonful with a density of cereal bits, the cornflakes definitely became more pronounced, and the texture turned into that of soggy cereal. I do prefer the cornflake crunch available as a topping in her bakeries, though. Maybe it’ll make it to shelves soon, so I can use it as a pint topping!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 270 calories, 17 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 170mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Birthday Cake

Milk Bar Birthday Cake Ice Cream Spoon

Unintentionally saving the best for last, Birthday Cake was stellar. My first impression was that it was a bit sweeter than the others, as I’ve come to expect from cake batter ice creams. Additionally, as I was scooping, I saw unappetizing white bits that reminded me of ice chunks.

However, I was so wrong. They MADE the flavor as soon as my mind caught onto the taste of frosting. It reminded me of the childhood birthday cakes from the grocery store and brought me back to simpler and joyous times. This is the Tosi magic right here, folks.

The crumbs, though, seemed like an afterthought to me. I didn’t detect any added flavor or texture. As for the sprinkles, they did their job to add festive colors and a bit of that typical grittiness when you chomp them. I know that may sound unpleasant, but it reminded me of being a kid and eating allllllll the sprinkle-laden desserts. Birthday cake-flavored ice cream is never at the top of my list, but I will definitely keep this one stocked in my freezer!

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Whole Foods
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 19 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85mg of sodium, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Milk Bar Ice Cream Pints Top

What a foray into precious grocery store space, Milk Bar! It’s a strong effort that should be rewarded with fellow shoppers snatchin’ up the pints for a treat unlike anything else in the frozen aisle today!

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Pint

What is Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked?

Ben & Jerry’s first limited batch release of 2021 is a twist on its #1 flavor — Half Baked. The twist? Unbaking it hence the Totally Unbaked moniker. Instead of chocolate and vanilla ice creams being mixed with the usual cookie dough and fudge brownie gobs, it’s mixed with cookie dough gobs and brownie batter swirls.

How is it?

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Spoon

The classic base flavors were as delicious as expected from the Vermont duo. The ensemble of rich chocolatey notes with a trill of fudge and the bass of familiar vanilla and cookie dough sang in perfect harmony.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Dig

I am a texture fiend, though, so I was a little worried that it would lack in that department, especially since the brownie batter swirls look more like subtle ribbons. I wishfully thought they would add some nuance like the way the chocolate pudding swirls do in the Chocolate Therapy flavor, but no dice. However, the cookie dough and mini chocolate chips carried Team Texture just fine while maintaining the usual eat-straight-from-the-pint scoopability.

Anything else you need to know?

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Totally Unbaked Comparison

I found it more chocolate-forward when comparing head-to-head with its OG counterpart because the brownie batter was dispersed throughout for a fudge-y bite in nearly every spoonful.

Conclusion:

Pick it up if you see it! It’s a limited batch flavor – which means it changes 4-6 months – so it’s an excellent way to shake up your ice cream rotation. However, it’s not as novel as its Topped or Core innovations.

But a Limited Batch variety can become a permanent flavor like Peanut Butter Half Baked, so you never know!

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup/142 grams) 380 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 37 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Parmesan Crusted Papadia

Papa John s Parmesan Crusted Papadia Full

In the pizza chain innovation playbook, it’s a must to mess with the crust. So Papa John’s stayed true to form with the new Parmesan Crusted Papadia.

While it’s a standard play to jazz up the crust, the execution is actually pretty genius because it takes a unique offering in the crowded chain pizza space and makes it more unique. It also delivers exactly as promised — a Papadia with a nice crispy parmesan exterior.

The addition can be ordered with any of the existing varieties. It’s a one-dollar upcharge. I went with my favorite one thus far — the Meatball Pepperoni.

After opening its box, I could immediately tell it was cheese crusted from its golden hue. It was like someone folded a doily made of cheese onto the Papadia.

Papa John s Parmesan Crusted Papadia Seeing Crust

The visible shredded dairy melded onto the surface was reminiscent of the pizza chain’s garlic parmesan crust. But this version is so much better because of the added surface area and the wispy cheese edges like the overflow on a grilled cheese sandwich. 2?r now equals C for cheese!!!

Said cheese doily didn’t take away from or overpower the existing meat and tomato sauce flavors. It complemented them really well with extra savoriness that culminated in a much cheesier taste than the original version. I also enjoyed the added texture to each bite. It’s not crunchy like eating Cheetos, but rather it’s more like a light crispness, similar to eating a parmesan crisp!

Papa John s Parmesan Crusted Papadia Bites

With all that said, this cheese-crusted version was a little less “handheld happiness” than the original, as the parmesan crust left quite the oily residue.

All things considered, I would pay the extra dollar for the crispy goodness again and again.

I’m actually secretly hoping that this catches on at other chains and even local pizza joints. Can you imagine an added cheesy exterior like this on a folded NY-style pizza?! SHEEEEEESH (as the TikTokers would say).

This is innovation at its finest, people!! Simple but effective and delicious.

Purchased Price: $7
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Not available on website, but here’s the info for a regular Meatball Pepperoni) 940 calories, 49 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 2390 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 42 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Starbucks Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino

Starbucks Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino Cup

Starbucks not only dictates when fall starts (on PSL day, of course), but now also when summer starts with its drink drops. The latest seasonal lineup, cleverly dubbed “A.S.A.P.” (As Summer As Possible), comprises mainly of repeat/returning items, but there’s one new beverage: the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino!

This signature blended beverage touts funnel-cake flavor syrup blended with coffee, milk, and ice with layers of strawberry puree, whipped cream, and powered sugar funnel cake pieces.

Starbucks Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino Top

Visually, the first descriptor that came to mind was “stunning,” which may sound exaggerated. So, I’ll settle down and simply say it was a pretty drink! It brought back summer nostalgia as it fondly reminded me of strawberry ice cream sundae cups – the ones with the little wooden spoon. As a kid, I used to eat those daily during summer school.

This Frap was definitely a glow up from those frozen dessert cups. Consistent with all Starbucks’ fruit inclusions/flavoring, the strawberry puree had the nuanced sweet and tartness of real fruit. In contrast, though, the funnel cake-flavored syrup tasted a little bit artificial. It had a distinct vanilla-esque note that even coffee couldn’t hide.

To be fair, though, the drink overall was not very coffee-forward. I was about halfway through when I did a double take and asked aloud, “Is there even coffee in this?!” The nutrition facts in the handy app confirmed the caffeine presence of about 85 milligrams, which is a fraction of my usual nitro cold brew. Regardless, I’m going to say it was by design because it would be easy to overwhelm the fruit flavor with bold, acidic coffee.

Starbucks Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino Layers

I chose not to mix it to maintain the layered drinking experience. My favorite sips started with the whipped cream and strawberry puree part for a strawberries & cream-like flavor. Then it was followed by a slurp of the blended coffee as there were the fun bits of the funnel cake pieces. Said pieces had a graham cracker-like texture instead of fluffy funnel cake. This deviation was fine by me because I hate the idea of soggy pieces. Rinse and repeat (or more like sip and sip some more in this case)!

Is it a color-changing, Insta-worthy mermaid unicorn beverage? No.

Is it a classic that I could see returning summer after summer? Heckin’ yes!

Purchased Price: $5.25
Size: Grande (16 oz)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (16 oz) 410 calories, 20 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 51 grams of sugar, 4 grams of added sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 85 milligrams of caffeine.

REVIEW: Arby’s Crinkle Cut Fries

Arby s Crinkle Cut Fries Full

What are Arby’s Crinkle Cut Fries?

Arby’s new permanent fries are exactly as they sound — an “…accordion-style” deep-fried spud offering! The website touts the “…groves for maximum crispiness, lightly seasoned with fine kosher salt.”

(Editor’s Note: I’m pretty sure “groves” is supposed to be “grooves.” But that’s really how it’s spelled on Arby’s website. I added the screenshot below for proof.)

Screen Shot 2021 04 25 at 8 46 21 AM

How are they?

Arby s Crinkle Cut Fries Top

Crinkle cut fries are near and dear to my heart. They remind me of elementary school lunches when the best part of my day was lunchtime. These were exactly like a blast from the past – limp, slightly undercooked, but decently salted.

Anything else you need to know?

Arby s Crinkle Cut Fries Compare

I tested these head-to-head with crinkle cut fries from the grocery store. The air fried Ore-Ida ones I made were better. They were golden brown and actually had more crispness.

Arby s Crinkle Cut Fries Compare Closeup

Unfortunately, Arby’s is pretty serious about its mediocre crinkle cut fry offering. The fast food chain even made a TV commercial for it!

Conclusion:

I ate every single one of those limp, slightly undercooked, but decently salted fries, but they’re not better than frozen crinkle cut fries found at your local grocery store.

Maybe one day Arby’s will offer a mixed spuds basket with its curlies, crinkle, and cakes – kind of like mixing all the sodas together. But I wouldn’t get the crinkle fries on their own. I’ll stick with the curlies!

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: Medium
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Medium) 530 calories, 26 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein.