REVIEW: Edy’s (Dreyer’s) Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard

Edy’s Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard

With the notable exception of some four months Rob Van Winkle’s To The Extreme spent at the top of the Billboard charts during 1990, there have been few, if any, reasons to get excited about anything “vanilla.”

I get it. Vanilla is boring.

Perhaps not as boring as three yards and a cloud of dust Big 10 football boring, but it certainly surpasses C-SPAN2 on a Friday night. But you might not realize vanilla is America’s favorite ice cream flavor.

And after trying Edy’s new Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard, it’s really not too hard to see why.

If you’re familiar with frozen custard, you’ve been fortunate. Well, at least in one sense of the word. Forgetting for a moment that those of you who are familiar most likely have to suffer through horribly oppressive winters and have a potentially high proportion of cows to people in your local community, you and your Midwestern specialty of at least 1.4 percent egg yolks have remained one of the last great frozen treats to avoid being mass produced and shipped to every megamart in America.

Excuse me, had remained, because Edy’s/Dreyer’s has taken the rich, egg-infused dairy dessert and taken it to supermarket shelves everywhere.

On one hand, this is clearly a good thing. For us East Coasters it means not having to stand in ridiculous lines at Shake Shack or putting ourselves at the mercy of unnecessary commutes. But on the other hand it also could mean the inevitable bastardization (or as I like to say, “gelatofication”) that comes with trying to recreate an incredibly fickle product for retail.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. With flavors like Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter Pie, and Salted Caramel Pretzel, why on Earth would anyone buy Old Fashioned Vanilla?

Because old fashioned vanilla is classic, and if there’s ever going to be a litmus test for whether or not something mass produced truly lives up to the hype of a regional specialty, it’ll be the most pure and unadulterated form of that product. I can get pretzels and cookie bites stuffed into any factory made ice cream or frozen dairy dessert, but if the dairy base is what sets it apart, and if the egg yolks are noticeably present, then custard of even plain vanilla should stand out as the most sophisticated of desserts. In other words: this is where ingredients matter.

Edy’s Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard Closeup 3

The custard is thick and packed tight with little to no overrun and a noticeable yellow shade common with egg-infused dairy products. Two modest scoops weighed in at over 130 grams (about a serving and a half), meaning there’s little manufactured air. It’s a welcomed change from all the frozen dairy desserts on shelves these days.

You can taste it, too.

The texture registers all the common ice cream buzzwords; not only is it extremely creamy and rich, but it holds its texture when licked and scooped. It’s definitely indulgent, but the flavor isn’t heavy or overwhelming. Instead it’s floral and somehow light, with a sophisticated and multilayered sweetness and bold vanilla flavor which stays with you long after that first scoop.

The smooth nature of the custard makes it exceptional and keeps it from becoming too hard, while the vanilla flavor is something of a revelation. I’ve had plenty of vanilla styled ice cream before — Vanilla Bean, Homestyle Vanilla, and French Vanilla — but, with the exception of maybe some premium brands, nothing has come close to the intensity of the flavor. Even Rita’s, a frozen custard chain I once worked at as a teenager, doesn’t compare when matching the authenticity of the flavor.

Edy’s Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard Closeup 2

Knowing I’d probably never choose an unadorned vanilla ice cream when confronted with plenty of other flavor choices, you might say I had my doubts when choosing the Edy’s Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard. But those doubts were accompanied by the hope that if this really was genuine custard then I’d be in for a rich and flavorful treat even without all the bells and whistles.

Thankfully this flavor lives up to the reputation of authentic frozen custard, and more than makes an acceptable and affordable substitute for when standing in line at Shake Shack just isn’t an option.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 210 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 8% calcium.)

Item: Edy’s Old Fashioned Vanilla Frozen Custard
Purchased Price: $3.97
Size: 1 Quart
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Exceptionally smooth and creamy texture. Bold sweetness and rich flavor. Floral and distinct vanilla flavor. Rivals premium ice cream price but comes in a slightly larger (weight) container. Not having to travel far for authentic frozen custard.
Cons: Completely unrealistic serving size in terms of actual scoopage. The inevitable backlash of Midwesterners everywhere.

REVIEW: Edy’s Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream (Coffee & Cookies Delight and Cinnamon Bun Fun)

Edy's Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream

You know what’s great? Alliteration. Like cookies and coffee, cakes and candy, and all kinds of words that spike your insulin levels by just saying them. You know what’s also great? Assonance. Like cinnamon bun, fun, and “ummm, did I really just eat that whole thing?” And you know what’s not at all great?

Getting fat from eating ice cream stuffed with all that wonderful stuff, that’s what.

Thankfully, Edy’s (Dreyer’s for all you westerners) has a suitable solution. Aha! More word games!

I speak of the new Bakery Treats line, which is offered in both Grand and Slow Churned varieties. The limited edition ice cream comes in three flavors: Luscious Red Velvet Cake, Coffee & Cookies Delight, and Cinnamon Bun Fun.

Since February seems to be the de facto red velvet month, thanks to Valentine’s Day, I considered it my moral obligation to avoid Luscious Red Velvet Cake. Besides, it’s not every day that coffee and cookies combine in ice cream, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has felt an overwhelming temptation to make a trip to TCBY right after hitting up a Cinnabon.

Edy's Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream Cookies and Coffee

It’s typical to assume the cookie element in most ice creams is either your generic Oreo-type or chocolate chip cookie dough. You can’t go wrong with either, but sometimes a guy just wants something different, you know? That’s what I loved about the Coffee & Cookies Delight, which has an E.L. Fudge-type chocolate covered shortbread.

Edy's Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream Coffee and Cookies Cone

As you can see from the photo, there are some generous cookie pieces in each scoop. The cookies retain a nice crunch and fudgy flavor, even though the ingredient list doesn’t show any cocoa butter. I did find myself wishing for a more buttery shortbread, but at 110 calories a serving, one learns to temper his or her expectations.

That said, the texture is very good for a low-fat ice cream. Gone are the days of comparisons to snow cones or gummy bears, and while the Slow Churned varieties won’t be mistaken for Häagen-Dazs, it has an enjoyable mouthfeel that comes across as creamy.

Like many of today’s low-fat ice creams, the place it runs into trouble is in the flavor. There’s just something about not having that rich dairy finish of cream that never leaves me quite as satiated when enjoying low-fat ice cream, and in the case of the coffee flavor, it’s an injustice.

The coffee flavor is watered down and not as strong or earthy-sweet as Edy’s Slow Churned Coffee. It’s diluted like the cheap coffee your non-Google office stocks, and it doesn’t taste sweet or strong enough to enjoy on its own. Altogether it’s an enjoyable flavor because of the cookies, but don’t count on it if you’re a coffee ice cream snob, which I kind of am.

Edy's Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream Cinnamon Bun Fun

That’s okay though, because God invented Buy One, Get One Free, and I just so happened to also pick up the Slow Churned version of Edy’s Cinnamon Bun Fun. Other bloggers have raved about the Grand version and even the Slow Churned one, and I’m happy to report these reviews are acceptably accurate.

Edy's Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream Cinnamon Bun Cone

The sweet base tastes of fresh cream and cinnamon, while a thick, almost praline-like cinnamon and graham crumble spirals down into the container, creating a stepladder of buttery brown sugar flavor and texture. I found each spoonful to contain more than the requisite cinnamon-graham swirl needed to qualify for “guilty pleasure” status, with the added bonus that a serving barely tops the 100 calorie mark.

Given that a standard half cup is hardly worthy of an actual serving, it’s still notable that even a fat kid-sized cone probably won’t run more than 300 calories or so. Most impressively, the flavor comes closer to any I’ve previously encountered when recreating the flavor of the classic cinnamon bun, even though most cinnamon buns don’t connote graham flavor. It’s surprisingly addictive and you might say it’s even good enough to make you question if it’s really so low in fat.

I give Edy’s credit. Some ice cream companies, don’t even try to do the healthy thing. Others concede that they’re more than happy to provide you and me with sucky “frozen dairy” products when calories are a concern. But in the new Slow Churned Bakery Treats flavors, Edy’s has found something as great as combining alliteration with assonance and keeping it creamy and delicious too.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – Coffee & Cookies Delight – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein. Cinnamon Bun Fun – 110 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Edy’s Limited Edition Bakery Treats Slow Churned Ice Cream (Coffee & Cookies Delight and Cinnamon Bun Fun)
Purchased Price: $5.99 (on sale – BOGO)
Size: 1.5 quarts
Purchased at: Giant Food
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Coffee & Cookies Delight)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cinnamon Bun Fun)
Pros: Cinnamon Bun Fun has wonderfully crunchy brown sugar and graham cracker swirl that perfectly recreates the center part of a cinnamon roll. Tastes rich and creamy and indulgent while still being low fat (allegedly). Ginormous E.L. Fudge-type shortbread cookies in the Coffee & Cookies Delight. Alliteration. Assonance. Having fat kid sized ice cream cones and not getting fat.
Cons: The coffee flavor of Coffee and Cookies Delight tastes like diluted office coffee. Cinnamon bun swirl could be a bit more viscous and buttery. Cream flavor of the ice cream is only average. Probably not as good as full fat versions.

REVIEW: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream

Dreyer's Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream

When the wind chill is thirty below and I’m at the grocery store, the last thing in the world that I want is for someone to steal my coat, but the next-to-last thing I want is ice cream, so winter specialty flavors meant nothing to me back in Illinois. Last week, however, while basking in a short-lived California heat wave, I felt drawn to a tub of Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream.

Frankly, egg nog sounds like an obvious, even lazy flavor choice. The product itself is just slightly off-color, but not in an egg shell or cream kind of way. It’s more like evenly coated yellow snow, tinged with a creeping bit of fear and self-doubt.

The flavor isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, which I guess is the point of the whole Slow Churned line. Unlike some low-ish fat ice cream options, however, nothing about it tastes terribly off and the ingredients list hasn’t kept me awake at night.

If you’re like me or the five people I’ve discussed this with thus far, the only thing you’re probably concerned about is whether or not the nutmeg flavor is present. Calm down. It’s there. No extraneous nutmeg buying expenses required. Really, that’s three-quarters of the way to a quality egg nog product right there.

See? Minimal effort all the way.

I found I actually enjoyed the ice cream more once it had slightly melted, which basically only indicates that, yes, I like egg nog.

I won’t name any names, but I’ve witnessed the creation of chewable egg nog before, and it ain’t pretty. From that experience I learned that I prefer my egg nog to be a liquid, rather than a liquid and some solids strained through a 99 cent wicker cornucopia. Not that the end result tasted bad, but the process was still questionable. The main point here is that I wouldn’t have dreamed of eating those superfluous egg chunks, and while the ice cream does not share the same troubling texture, I’m still less enthused about this whole solid nog concept.

Dreyer’s Egg Nog Ice Cream is unquestionably fairly tasty. However, it fails on three of my four main egg nog qualifications which are:

1. Nutmeg prominence
2. Drinkability
3. Warmth
4. Ability to combine with rum and not make the saddest ice cream float ever

Unless you’re already freezing, you probably won’t regret trying this stuff. You’ll just wonder why you didn’t grab some no-frills, non-chilly egg nog instead. If you’re a cold nog kind of person, this will make even less sense for you. And really that’s the bottom line – there’s no outstanding perk or fantastic reason to go back for a few more scoops instead of melting it down and slurping it up.

In this case limited edition seems to equate to acknowledgement of lack of staying power, yet they mention it being “back.” Did I just miss it last year? More importantly, am I supposed to be anticipating this next year? Because next year I plan on nodding knowingly as I pass by the freezer section in search of the special holiday fulfillment Dreyer’s could not provide. I hate to break it to you like this, Dreyer’s, but I’m leaving you for either Southern Comfort or Soy Nog. I like you. I just don’t like like you. I’m sorry.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 6% calcium, 0% vitamin C and 0% iron.)

Item: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream
Price: $3.49
Size: 1.5 Quarts
Purchased at: Albertson’s
Rating: 5 out 10
Pros: Nutmeg. That heat wave last week. Tastes far better than it looks. It’s actually ice cream rather than a bag of worms or something. Half the fat of “regular ice cream.” Creamy.
Cons: Yellow snow. Egg nog with chunks. Ice cream in a Midwestern winter. Mini rum nog floats. Frostbite. Uncertainty over what constitutes “regular ice cream.” No coziness. Better melted. Fills non-exist nog niche.

Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light Caramel Delight

Dreyer's Slow Churned Light

Ice cream is one of the best comfort foods.

Since it’s cool, creamy, and delicious, it’s supposed to help people forget all of their troubles. It’s much like alcohol and Calgon, except without the hangovers and prune fingers.

Ice cream has helped me on several occasions.

One time I was flipping channels and came upon this movie. I stopped flipping channels and ended up watching this movie because there was this pretty woman acting in it. Well to make a long story short, it turned out that the pretty woman was actually a dude, which caused me to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in about fifteen minutes.

Damn you, The Crying Game! Damn you!

Another time ice cream helped me was when I was with a couple of friends and we were hiking along the coastline and we came upon a private nude beach. I saw a lot of T and A, but unfortunately, it was only 60-year-old T and A. But what made it worse was that there were also many 60-year-old floppy schlongs.

This was bad because I had images of dancing 60-year-old boobs and schlongs in my head for the rest of the hike. When we got back from the hike, it took four ice cream sandwiches to help me forget about those images.

Now the problem with using ice cream to help me forget about my troubles is the fact that I have a lot of troubles, like running into ex-girlfriends, hearing Clay Aiken sing, possibly being molested by a drunk Tara Reid, hearing the Usher song “Yeah!” for the umpteenth time, and older white folks saying “bling bling.”

Because I have a lot of troubles, I eat a lot of ice cream, which means I’m possibly committing one of the Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony.

Otherwise known as, “normal life” by hair metal bands from the 1980s and 1990s.

Sure, I could just eat low-fat or Healthy Choice ice cream, but then the troubling experience of dancing schlongs in my head will be replace the troubling experience of eating really crappy tasting ice cream.

If only someone would come out with an ice cream with all the flavor, but without the need to make frantic calls to Jenny Craig, like I’m Kirstie Alley.

Thanks to Impulsive Buy readers Kent and Jobetta, I think I may have found that ice cream, Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light. It has half the fat and one-third fewer calories than regular ice cream.

The Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light Caramel Delight I bought was surprisingly really good. The caramel flavor seemed to have permeated through the ice cream because it was in every spoonful, even when there weren’t any caramel swirls.

(Holy crap! Did I just use the word “permeated?” That’s such a big word for me. I’m so happy! My vocabulary is still growing!)

Overall, it’s the best light ice cream I’ve ever tasted. It’s creamy, rich, delicious, healthier than regular ice cream, and will help me cope when someone sees my ass crack when I go commando in my low cut jeans.

Item: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Light Caramel Delight
Purchase Price: $4.99
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pros: Delicious. Half the fat of regular ice cream. One-third fewer calories than regular ice cream. Caramel flavor was in every spoonful. Me using the word “permeated” for the first time.
Cons: 60-year-old schlongs flopping up and down on a nude beach. 60-year-old boobies flopping up and down on a nude beach. My inability to distinguish between dudes and chicks.

Dreyer’s Vanilla With Nestle Crunch Coating Dibs

Dreyer's Nestle Crunch Dibs

Did you know, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month?

To be honest, I didn’t know, until Impulsive Buy reader Lauren emailed me to tell me.

However, I do know July is National Baked Beans Month, National Blueberry Month, National Picnic Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Recreation and Parks Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, and National Hug Yo’ Ho Month.

So in honor of National Ice Cream Month, I’ve decided to review Dreyer’s Vanilla With Nestle Crunch Coating Dibs, which Impulsive Buy reader Richard recommended.

(Editor’s Note: Um, I don’t know why this is, but in some places they’re called Dreyer’s Dibs, while in other places they’re called Edy’s Dibs. I guess it’s just like in some places I’m called Marvo, but in other places I’m called That Bastard.)

What are Dibs? The best way I can describe them is that they’re like little ghetto ice cream bonbons, with a hard chocolaty coating on the outside and creamy ice cream inside.

The flavor of Dibs I purchased had a Nestle Crunch candy bar coating and vanilla ice cream. After trying them, I have to say that they’re just like most pop-punk bands I listen to, they were good, but there’s nothing that really makes them stand out.

Each container of Dibs has sixty pieces of cool, creamy, crunchy goodness.

Now sixty pieces may seem like a lot, but it’s not. Especially if you’re eating them during an episode of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club 2. They’ll be gone in no time, not because they’re good, but because you’ll have too much fun taunting Gary Busey.

Dreyer's Nestle Crunch Dibs Closeup

“Hey, Busey! You want some of these Dreyer’s Dibs? Here you go. Oops, they accidently fell into my mouth. Here’s more, Mr. Busey. Oops, they accidently fell into my mouth again. I’m so clumsy.”

However, I should warn you. If you do eat an entire container of Dreyer’s Dibs in one sitting, I would suggest you eat nothing but grass for the next few days, because one serving contains 99 PERCENT of our daily value of saturated fat (each container of Dibs contains 2.5 servings).

Of course, this means eating servings of Dibs on a regular basis, will either give you a heart attack or make you as big as the cows that the milk for the ice cream came from.

So eating a container of Dreyer’s Dibs may have been dangerous, but I ate one for the Gipper.

Item: Dreyer’s Vanilla With Nestle Crunch Coating Dibs
Purchase Price: $3.99
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Pros: Good. Cool, creamy, crunchy concoction. Bite-sized. Taunting Gary Busey.
Cons: Nothing really special. Very high in saturated fat. Pricey compared with a half gallon of ice cream. Only 60 pieces.