Brooklyn-based ice creamery Van Leeuwen has risen to snack food cultural prominence over the past year with its novelty offerings mimicking Mac & cheese, pizza, and most recently, Grey Poupon mustard. It also does more “normal” seasonal flavors, like the spring variety we reviewed in April. It’s back for the summer with four new selections: Summer Peach Crisp, Campfire S’mores, Espresso Fior Di Latte Chip, and Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam.
Espresso Fior Di Latte Chip
Okay, so confession time: I didn’t know what “Fior di Latte” was. I ate this ice cream without checking, assuming it was just several words meaning “a kind of Italian coffee.” Much to my surprise, Fior di Latte is actually several words for “a kind of Italian cheese.” I’m glad I didn’t know that going in, or I’m afraid it may have negatively colored my opinion of this delightful ice cream. Going back with my newfound knowledge, though, yes, you can definitely pick up a salty swirl from the cheese. It blends perfectly with the strong coffee flavor, and the dark chocolate chips and graham pieces interspersed throughout make this the second best pick out of the bunch.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 310 calories, 19 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar (18 grams of added sugar), and 6 grams of protein.
Summer Peach Crisp
My first thought on this was, “oh, snap, where’s the peach?” What I didn’t yet know -— but what I subsequently learned here, and then again with the S’mores version -— is that sometimes your Van Leeuwen pint is like Roanoke Island: to get to the treasure, you’ve gotta dig deep. Once you get to the syrupy peach swirl, it’s great, but there’s far too little of it overall. The “gluten-free oat pieces” meant to approximate the crust of a crumble, however, are too abundant, and they detract from the experience. This is worth getting if it’s all you see at the store, but I wouldn’t go nuts trying to find it.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 300 calories, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (21 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein.
Though my overall favorite changes often, Rocky Road is always in my top five favorite ice cream flavors. Campfire S’mores -— which includes two key Rocky Road components -— is sinfully good. The marshmallow is inexplicably fluffy and chewy, and the rich fudge swirl defies all culinary scientific explanation by somehow remaining malleable and syrupy; this is not your grandfather’s frozen fudge ribbon. The ice cream itself purports to be “toasted marshmallow,” but it was indistinguishable from regular vanilla. Even still, this ice cream is Hall of Fame worthy, and it took considerable willpower to not down the container in a single sitting.
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 310 calories, 16 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 30 grams of sugar (20 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein.
Honey Cornbread with Strawberry Jam
Look, I get that this was an attempt at adventurousness, but there’s a reason we don’t put cornbread in ice cream. The texture was gritty and off-putting and, well, very cornbread-y. Great with a Southern dinner, but maybe not in my frozen dessert. The strawberry jam was rich and strong, and while it could have potentially helped keep this tolerable, like the peach pint, there wasn’t enough of it. Of the four, this was the only one I was not compelled to save for later.
Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 310 calories, 18 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar (24 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein.
Except for the Cornbread variety, I would repurchase all of these. Even the cheese one. In the case of the S’mores version, I may buy a whole pallet’s worth.
When social media alerts you to Grey Poupon ice cream, there are only two possible explanations: April Fools’ Day is upon us, or the mad geniuses at Van Leeuwen are at it again.
Given that it’s late May and you are reading this review, you can probably deduce that Van Leeuwen’s Grey Poupon with Salted Pretzels Ice Cream is a very real product. Considering the brand’s propensity for wacky, experimental flavors, including Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Pizza, we shouldn’t be surprised. Of all possible unconventional savory pairings for ice cream, why not choose mustard? Why not mustard that tastes so good, gentlemen request it from neighboring vehicles?
You may have a lot of answers to that question that you will share in the comments IN ALL CAPS, but I love mustard. I sometimes eat certain foods solely so they can serve as vehicles for mustard. Ice cream isn’t one of them, so the prospect of mustardy ice cream left me curious and considerably trepid. For the sake of adventure and sharing my experience with you, dear readers, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.
My mouth, overall, was not displeased with the purchase. The French ice cream base does not taste like mustard, but rather rich vanilla. The flavor is simple but very high quality: delicious, rich, and creamy. (According to the container, French ice cream contains double the egg yolks than standard ice cream, which contribute to its richness.)
Pieces of thin pretzel sticks are generously spread throughout the base. They add a hint of saltiness, but their texture is lacking. The ultra-creamy base begs for a crunchy element, but the pretzels range from soft to soggy.
At this point, I wondered if the product WAS a belated April Fools’ joke, but then I hit the bright yellow swirl running throughout the base. Mustard time. However, this swirl, which has the consistency of very loose caramel, does not share the vinegary, spicy pungency of Dijon mustard. The flavor is much more consistent with honey mustard. Honey is listed as an ingredient, which is likely lending that sweetness to the swirl’s notable mustardy tang.
The honey mustard flavor is prominent in some pockets of the pint. The thinner ribbons are more subtle; they offer just a bit of bright flavor and acidity to cut the rich base. Together, all components of the ice cream give a French- fries-and-milkshake vibe, if the French fries were replaced by pretzels lightly seasoned with honey mustard powder. The flavor is certainly unusual, and while I wouldn’t want a cone full of it, I don’t regret buying it.
Van Leeuwen’s latest creation may not inspire this devout mustard-lover to ask the ice cream truck: “Do you have any Grey Poupon?” But its adventurous blur of sweet and savory defies expectations, resulting in a surprising, interesting dessert experience. When soggy pretzels are the biggest downside of a condiment-themed ice cream, that’s a win for creativity.
Purchased Price: $4.98 Size: 14 fl oz Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (per 2/3 cup) 310 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.
Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen currently offers seven ice cream flavors exclusively at Walmart stores nationwide. They’ll be there for ten weeks and then disappear. The lineup includes new and fan-favorite flavors — Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Planet Earth, Pizza (new), Hot Honey, Royal Wedding Cake, Bourbon Cherries Jubilee, and Wild Blueberry Shortcake.
“Hot” is definitely not the right adjective to describe this flavor, but “Slight Back of the Throat Burn After a Few Spoonfuls Honey” is too long to fit on any carton. The burn is so mild that folks who are averse to spicy foods might not mind it.
The pint features a creamy, easy-to-scoop vanilla ice cream base with hard candy honeycomb pieces and hot honey swirls. I’ve eaten 1/4 of the carton, and every spoonful has had a honeycomb piece or some of the swirl. There are enough of the additions that after the first few spoonfuls, I thought the base was also honey flavored, but it turns out some of that sneaky swirl snuck onto my spoon. But I don’t mind because it has a wonderful honey flavor that eventually leads to the back of the throat heat.
The honeycomb candy pieces have a very light honey taste, but I’m fine with that because the swirl does a lot of the heavy honey lifting. They do have a toffee-like crunch, which I love.
This was the first flavor I tried, and I had a difficult time putting it down. Partially because after I started feeling that back of the throat burn, I thought more ice cream would help. But mostly because it’s a tasty flavor.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 320 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 35 grams of sugar (30 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein.
Wild Blueberry Shortcake
What’s the difference between wild blueberries and, um, captive blueberries? I spent ten minutes researching that, and after those ten minutes, I realized that I don’t care because this pint of vanilla ice cream, blueberry swirls, and shortcake pieces is divine, and I’d rather eat it than gain blueberry knowledge.
Much like the Hot Honey, there are a lot of mix-ins, honey. I mean, look at all that in the vanilla ice cream. If you’re an archeologist and found that much stuff buried, I believe the academic term for such a discovery is JACKPOT!
The swirl has some tanginess, an occasional blueberry chunk, and reminds me of pie filling, except without the whole blueberries. The shortcake pieces are chewy and, to be honest, a bit boring on their own. But when combined with the swirl, their flavor is enhanced for some reason. Maybe it happened because some of the blueberry’s wildness rubbed onto the shortcake pieces. As for the vanilla base, it’s creamy, easy to scoop, and is pretty much a canvas for the mix-ins.
Am I wild about this Wild Blueberry Shortcake Ice Cream? Yeah. Will I be blue after I finish it? Berry much. Will I short-circuit if I’m not able to taste this flavor again? Cake.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 290 calories, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar (22 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
Bourbon Cherries Jubilee
It has just two components — sweet cream ice cream and swirls of bourbon cherry compote. Much like the pronunciation of Van Leeuwen, I had to look up what compote is. It’s fruit that’s cooked in syrup. Good to know.
While bourbon is in its name and listed in the ingredients, don’t expect this to be boozy-flavored at all. It’s not something that stands out while eating the ice cream. But it does occasionally show up in the aftertaste. The sweet cream base has a noticeably sweeter flavor than the vanilla bases in the other varieties. Much like the blueberry pint, there’s a lot of fruity goodness. But while the blueberry swirl has some fruit, this cherry one has a lot.
It’s a delicious treat, but as I ate it, I couldn’t help but think this kind of tastes like Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, but without the fudge flakes and with more actual cherries. Like the blueberry one, it’s not a unique flavor, but it’s done really well.
Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 280 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar (26 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.
If you’re expecting an ice cream flavor that tastes like dirt, water, and plants, I’m not surprised because, as I mentioned earlier, Van Leeuwen also offers pizza and mac & cheese ice cream. But rest assured that the pint just looks like Earth and doesn’t taste like it. Although it’s what Earth looked like millions of years ago (or what it’ll look like several thousand years from now) — mostly water and patches of land popping out of it. Representing the water is a blue spirulina almond ice cream, and the green patches are matcha green tea cake pieces.
Unfamiliar with spirulina? It’s a blue-green algae, which explains the ice cream base’s color. The ingredients list spirulina, but there isn’t a hint of pond scum-ness in the base’s taste. From what I can tell, it’s only used for color. But that color might be messing with my head because it reminds me of cotton candy, and in turn, when I take some bites, it tastes like the carnival treat. Blue raspberry extract is also an ingredient, so I don’t know if that’s what my taste buds notice. But I also recognize the same almond notes I’ve had with other almond-flavored ice creams.
As for the matcha green tea cake, you’ll be disappointed if you’re a matcha maniac. They provide a chewiness that contrasts the creamy base, but don’t have a lot of matcha flavor.
The cotton candy that I think I’m tasting makes me like this pint. My wife didn’t care for it, though. After one spoonful, she said it tasted weird and had enough.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 320 calories, 21 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 180 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar (18 grams of added sugar), and 6 grams of protein.
Royal Wedding Cake
I’m not into royal weddings, and I’m also not too much into this pint that was inspired by the cake served at a particular royal wedding in 2018. It features sweet cream cheese ice cream with lemon sponge cake chunks and layers of elderflower frosting.
It’s a serviceable flavor, but I’d rather have any other pint I reviewed above. There are a few things about it that have me scratching my head. First, why does this feel as if it has nuts even though, after looking through the ingredients twice, there are no nuts? Something about the cake’s texture is probably making me think that. Second, why are geranium water and orange blossom water listed in the ingredients? Finally, why does the elderflower frosting taste like strawberry Guri-Guri from Maui? I realize that’s a reference 99.5 percent of you will not be able to relate to, but I had to mention it tastes like that sherbet. Well, at least the cake has a pleasant lemon flavor, and the sweet cream cheese ice cream isn’t offensive. Though, I did expect it to be tangier.
With Hot Honey, Wild Blueberry Shortcake, and Bourbon Cherries Jubilee, I had a hard time putting them down. But I don’t feel that way about this flavor. Again, it’s okay, but it’s easily my least favorite of the bunch.
Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 340 calories, 22 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 155 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar (18 grams of added sugar), and 7 grams of protein.
These pints are my first taste of any Van Leeuwen ice cream, and I’m impressed. With most of the varieties, I had some of the same blown away feelings I felt after eating Jeni’s Ice Cream for the first time because they both pack a lot of flavors, thanks to the mix-ins’ quality and quantity.
DISCLOSURE: I received free product samples from Van Leeuwen. Doing so did not influence my review.
Yes, you read the title correctly. This is a review of a pizza-flavored ice cream, or is it ice cream-flavored pizza? Either way, the latest product you never knew you needed but are intrigued to try (or at least read about someone else trying) is from the folks at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, who are also responsible for the previously reviewed Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream.
I imagine there was a meeting of Van Leeuwen decision-makers where someone threw out the idea of pizza ice cream, and it seems that at least some in the meeting thought it wasn’t a terrible idea (perhaps the same ones who gave the thumbs up for mac and cheese ice cream). Now, if Van Leeuwen was run by a bunch of first graders, then I could understand this flavor getting the green light, along with chicken nugget ice cream. Even though I did not do any research to back this up, I’m guessing Van Leeuwen is not run by first graders, although the company’s website refers to their products as “pints” when they only contain 14 (not 16) ounces, so I guess they do struggle with numbers a little.
So, is this a terrible idea?
Actually, no. I sort of liked it, even though it only sort of tastes like pizza. This does contain a good number of pizza-ish ingredients — tomatoes, unbleached flour, mozzarella cheese powder, and unnamed spices — but they come through with different levels of flavor. The base ice cream (the cheese) is wonderfully creamy; I suppose because it’s French ice cream, which the container explains contains more egg yolks than non-French ice cream. There’s a hint of mozzarella taste but much more of a cheesecake flavor, thanks to the decidedly non-pizza ingredient of cream cheese.
The sauce part was a pleasant surprise. Despite how mixing tomatoes and ice cream might make you cringe, it was more than palatable. That’s probably because it’s a tomato jam, according to Van Leeuwen, and, according to me, it pairs nicely with the cheesy ice cream base. It has enough tomato flavor so you know what it is, but its mild sweetness eliminates the grossness factor.
The crust, made of basil cookies, is the only part that didn’t win me over. There was not much there as far as texture or taste, but it didn’t do anything to the detriment of the ice cream as a whole. It’s like having a co-worker who rarely does any work but doesn’t screw things up either.
As has been said in other reviews of Frankenstein-inspired freaks of food folly, this product is not a great substitute for either of the items it claims to be. If you are craving pizza, then even that cold pizza in the fridge that you question if it’s still OK is to eat is probably better. And if you have a hankering for ice cream, then just about any “regular” flavor will hit the spot better than this. But you only live once, and do you really want to be sitting in a retirement home playing bingo and wondering what pizza ice cream tastes like? I certainly do not, so I’m glad I tried this.
Purchased Price: $4.98 Size: 14 fl. oz. Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) 310 calories, 16 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 33 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.