REVIEW: McDonald’s Grandma McFlurry

The cruelest words you can hear in a McDonald’s are, “The ice cream machine is broken,”… but a kindly guardian grandmother must have been watching over me on my most recent visit because no technical difficulties came between me and the new Grandma McFlurry.

Yes, I can hear you scratching your head from here. The new what now? So, I’m just going to come out and say it—the ambiguous name has to be a reference to the Werther’s Original hard candies that just seem to universally, perpetually, magically accumulate in the homes of people of a certain age, right?

Or maybe not, because, unlike those classic caramel treats, the new geriatric-named McFlurry (whose true flavor was sneakily never actually mentioned in the initial press release, drumming up quite the mystique) has turned out to be butterscotch-based.

Atop the creamy pillow of vanilla ice cream, there are both butterscotch crumbles and a butterscotch swirl. In my McFlurry, the crumbles rested pretty much entirely on top, and while there was some syrup there too, I found that most of it quickly sunk to the bottom. That meant that mine didn’t look much like the promotional image—a bountiful, evenly-swirled beauty with alternating layers of copious syrupy gold—but the ratio of toppings to ice cream was great, and the taste was even better, so I had nothing to complain about.

Though some grandmas have a reputation for being crotchety, this treat made me feel more crochet-y—as in so joyful that, like a tender-hearted elder, I felt the urge to craft a sweater for my (not-yet-existent) grandchild. My McFlurry was sweeter than Grandma’s cookies. Yet with such a well-rounded creaminess, plus a tinge of saltiness from the butterscotch, that the sugariness never overwhelmed.

The ice cream had a silky texture and a full flavor, but of course, the butterscotch bits were the stars of the septuagenarian-inspired show. For me, the crumbles, in particular, knocked it out of the park/nursing home. As I mentioned, I went in with hard candy on the brain, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that these, while solid, were also unexpectedly tender: crumbly and satisfyingly yielding when I bit down but practically melt-in-your-mouth when I didn’t. They reminded me of the inside of a Butterfinger bar, and while they don’t contain any peanut butter, the orange-y color, crackly texture, and sweetness certainly felt familiar (and delicious). (And speaking of comparisons, I also found the whole thing to smell, comfortingly and nostalgically, just like Waffle Crisp cereal.)

As for the syrup, it was thinner than I would have thought but still retained an impressively rich taste. In fact, the blending together of the runny syrup with the ice cream that started to melt and pool at the bottom of the cup resulted in a malty, cereal-milk-esque experience that I really enjoyed.

No matter what exactly the Grandma McFlurry reminds you of, I think it pulls off its job of evoking warm, cozy, happy memories perfectly. No matter your age, gender, or preference in seemingly-endlessly-refilled household candies, I suggest you slide on your slippers, grab your walker, and embrace your inner senior citizen at McDonald’s today.

Purchased Price: $6.19
Size: Regular
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 600 calories, 12 grams of fat, 340 milligrams of sodium, 102 grams of carbohydrates, 86 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Blue Bell A&W Root Beer Float Ice Cream

There’s a saying that if at first you succeed, then do something very similar so you can succeed again. OK, I might not have that exactly right, but the folks at Blue Bell know what I’m talking about. Last year, they introduced the Dr Pepper Float flavor, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and apparently, many others did as well because it’s now a permanent member of the Blue Bell lineup. For this summer, they have introduced the A&W Root Beer Float Ice Cream, which, despite its name, is only partly ice cream, namely vanilla, and the rest is root beer-flavored sherbet. Just like its Dr Pepper sibling, the A&W version is an instant classic in my book.

Through some kind of magic, which is vaguely explained in the ingredient list as “natural and artificial flavors,” the sherbet perfectly duplicates the taste of root beer. Plus, the consistency of the sherbet, which has a slightly more granular texture compared to the creamier ice cream, delivers a taste experience that almost made me think it was carbonated.

And here’s a tip: if you let this sit out for a few minutes instead of digging in right out of the freezer, the ice cream starts to melt a little faster than the sherbet, and it adds a bit more of the rich and creamy vanilla flavor to the mixture. Whatever Blue Bell did to make the Dr Pepper Float flavor so good, it did it again with this one.

Of course, I did have to try making a float with this ice cream and some actual A&W Root Beer, and the results were quite good, though perhaps not as mind-blowing as I was expecting, especially considering my choice of drinking vessel.

It turned out to just be a root beer float with a little extra root beer punch. So, if you have a busy schedule and don’t have the time for the two minutes of preparation that goes into making an actual root beer float, the Blue Bell version serves as a fine—perhaps even superior—substitute. You don’t have to worry about getting the right ice cream-to-root beer ratio; there’s no danger of the foam spilling over the top of the glass, and you’ll have tons more free time on your hands if you don’t have to do the mixing yourself. I just hope this version joins the Dr Pepper Float as a year-round product.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Party Blizzard

Once you reach a certain age, the word “party” takes on a different meaning. As a kid, the parties were non-stop: frequent birthday parties at school, pizza parties after your T-ball team finished last in the league, and a party just because the ice cream truck was in the neighborhood and all your friends got together. In high school and college, some people just needed a time and a place, and the party was on.

But after that, things change, especially if you have kids. Who’s going to babysit, what’s the parking situation like, is the party location more than 10 minutes from my house? If you’ve reached that stage in your life in terms of parties, the good news is that the new Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Party Blizzard has arrived, and there’s no need to have someone watch the kids, unless you don’t want them to get a sugar high.

This creation, a party of the Summer Blizzard Menu, is loaded with sugar in the form of chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter topping, peanut brittle crunch, and sprinkles. I’m going to assume you are familiar with the first two components, as cookie dough and peanut butter topping are mainstays of the Blizzard family. They both do a solid job here. The cookie dough is soft and chewy with a hint of chocolate, and the peanut butter topping adds some extra creaminess to the vanilla soft serve base.

As for the peanut brittle, it’s a nice addition but not exactly mind-blowing. The pieces are quite small, sometimes even smaller than the sprinkles, and as such, they deliver more crunch than flavor, especially in a mixture that already has peanut butter topping. If you do zero in on a piece of peanut brittle, there is a slightly different peanut buttery flavor compared to the topping, but it really doesn’t stand apart. The sprinkles add some color and crunch, but they also don’t bring much in terms of flavor.

With a nice mix of chewy cookie dough, crunchy peanut brittle, and sprinkles, this Blizzard delivers some nice texture variation and a solid peanut butter flavor with a hint of chocolate. It would have been better if the peanut brittle pieces were larger, but this Blizzard still delivers a satisfying party for your tastebuds without things getting out of hand.

Purchased Price: $4.19
Size: Small
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 880 calories, 39 grams of fat, 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 120 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 87 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Picnic Peach Cobbler Blizzard

How many different Dairy Queen Blizzard flavors have there been? No, I’m asking you because I can’t even make a reasonable guess. We have a handy list that goes all the way back to 2009, but it’s not complete and doesn’t include those special variations that Canada sometimes gets. And I imagine there have been many other different Blizzards at DQs around the world. So I doubt anyone at Dairy Queen headquarters even knows the answer. It seems like many new flavors have used the Taco Bell method and just mixed and matched the same five or six ingredients, but the new Picnic Peach Cobbler Blizzard is the first one, at least as far as I can tell, that includes peaches. And now I know why it took so long.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, there’s really no such thing as a “bad” Blizzard unless DQ decides to make one with ketchup, mustard, and hot dog chunks (even though I would definitely try that). But this one lands in the barely good category. It looks very nondescript, and the taste is nothing special either.

I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of peaches. Something about them being fuzzy and having giant pits has always unnerved me, and the Jack Black song “Peaches” drives me crazy. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly advise against listening to it unless you like having repetitive lyrics stuck in your head all day.

With that said, I do enjoy a nice, fresh peach from time to time, and peach in cobbler form is always tasty. Except here, it’s kind of not. The cobbler part is good. The crust pieces are sweet and chewy and make me think I’m eating cobbler. The problem is the peaches. Now, I don’t expect DQ to have a peach orchard next to the parking lot and pick a fresh one for each Blizzard, but this contains what the DQ website refers to as “peach topping.” Yes, it does have peaches in it, along with a bunch of other things, and the end result tastes something like peach gummies or those weird fruit candy slice things that I’ve never seen for sale at the grocery store but somehow eaten many, many times. The peach flavor was mild and pleasant enough, but the texture was odd. Perhaps using canned peaches would be too mushy or wouldn’t survive the magic Blizzard blending machine, but this version of “peaches” just didn’t make the grade for me.

Even if you love peaches, this one might disappoint you because the peach flavor is subdued, and the topping has an off-putting texture. It’s nice to see DQ adding a new component to the list of Blizzard ingredients, but this one is a disappointment.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Mini
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 350 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 46 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Ultimate Cookie Blizzard

I am by no means an expert on calendars. Yes, I can name the 12 months in order and even know which ones have 30 or 31 days. OK, I mostly know. August always gets me. I also know that early April is what people like to refer to as spring, and summer doesn’t come around until sometime in June. The fine folks at Dairy Queen apparently know even less than I do about how a calendar works, as they have just released their Summer Blizzard Menu, which includes three new concoctions and three returning flavors. After trying the new Ultimate Cookie Blizzard, I am quite happy about DQ’s complete disregard for chronology.

As you might have guessed, the Ultimate Cookie is loaded with cookies, and I mean loaded. It includes Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butter cookies, and the ultimate moniker of this version is spot-on. This might be the crunchiest Blizzard I’ve ever had, and that made it delightful. Every bite had the satisfying texture of the soft serve offset by a constant cookie crunch.

As for the taste, that also landed in the ultimate range. The Oreo cookies bring that famous chocolate flavor that is a part of so many Blizzard combinations, and the Nutter Butter cookies contribute a strong peanut butter taste but in a different way compared to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I love having PB cups in a Blizzard, but Nutter Butter might be even better. They seem to provide a more robust peanut butter flavor that can stand up to the chocolate without being secondary, as PB cups can sometimes be because they also contain chocolate. This Blizzard gave me more of a chocolate and peanut butter vibe than an Oreo and PB cup version.

And I didn’t forget about the Chips Ahoy. Actually, I kind of did. I saw evidence of their inclusion in the blend, but other than bringing some added crunch, it was hard to pick out the Chips Ahoy flavor compared to the Oreo and Nutter Butter.

Most fast food creations with ultimate or supreme in the name fail to deliver as promised, but this one does. If the words chocolate, peanut butter, and crunchy make you hungry, then you won’t want to miss this Blizzard. And thanks to DQ stretching the meaning of the word summer, you’ll have plenty of time to pick one up.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Mini
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 480 calories, 20 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 49 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.