It’s no secret that Van Leeuwen likes to push the boundary between sweet and salty with its unconventional limited edition flavors. Yet, when these flavors are released, there is always some element of incredulity that someone decided to turn that into ice cream.
Van Leeuwen’s latest creation appears to hold a mirror to its audience, revealing its unorthodox creation as a product of our own junk food impulses. Van Leeuwen Idaho Potato Malted Milkshake & Fries Ice Cream is a limited edition variety that flavors traditional vanilla French ice cream with malted barley and potato flakes to mimic an old-school diner favorite. “If you’ve ever dipped your fries in a milkshake,” the product seems to imply, “think twice before judging whatever we come up with next.”
Having felt sufficiently schooled by potato ice cream, I was eager to dig into the almost-pint. The vanilla ice cream base is flecked with golden potato crumbs and carries a light “fried food” smell. I poked around for big chunks of potato fries, but the golden flecks stayed consistently small and well-distributed throughout the container.
The ice cream base is as rich and creamy as I’ve come to expect from Van Leeuwen’s, enhanced by a toasty malt flavor. (The malt element made me scribble “Where can I buy Whoppers?” on my to-do list — not because the ice cream’s flavor was inadequate, but because I am never satisfied.) Even though the potato pieces aren’t plentiful, a fried taste is subtly present throughout the ice cream.
When the potato crumbs do make it onto the spoon, they are soft, yet starchy, just like the inside of a fry. The potato flavor varies in intensity based on how many crumbs are present in a given bite. Texturally, the ice cream mimics the experience of eating the starchy bits that are left behind after dipping several fries into a shake. While effective in delivering flavor, this choice might disappoint anyone who likes more crunchy or chewy elements in their ice cream.
Would I purchase this Walmart-exclusive flavor again? Possibly! Although the taste is unusual for packaged ice cream, it delivers a familiar sweet-and-salty combination in an indulgent base. In this way, Van Leeuwen’s Idaho Potato Malted Milkshake & Fries ice cream distinguishes itself from the brand’s more novel offerings that are more “taste adventures” than everyday freezer staples.
That being said, does the product replace the experience of ordering a velvet and frog sticks (that’s diner slang, according to the package!) as you agonize over which jukebox hit deserves your last quarter? Not a chance.
Purchased Price: $4.98
Size: 14 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2/3 cup): 290 calories, 19 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.