For those who battle severe ice cream cravings and/or lactose intolerance, I advise you to read the following article.
The health food revolution of the past decade has created a new and thriving market for alternative forms of everyone’s favorite dessert: ice cream. In fact, the variety of brands, milk derivatives, supplements and flavors that line grocery store freezer sections can appear rather overwhelming to a shopper. Despite the abundance of ice cream options, Halo Top, founded in 2012, has prevailed as the dominant ice cream alternative. In fact, the brand managed to beat out long-established companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs as the No.1 selling pint of ice cream in the U.S in 2017. Clearly, Halo Top has become a cult favorite. The company offers 25 different flavors comprised of dairy, non-dairy and keto options, each of which contains less sugar, fewer calories and greater protein than your traditional pint. Last year the company even dropped a popsicle line.
Now, I can get behind the move towards healthy ice cream. I do, however, feel the need to note that I’m using the term “healthy” very lightly. Ice creams advertised as healthy alternatives are, in fact, ice cream — they still contain great quantities of sugar, milk, artificial flavorings and all sorts of chemicals that probably aren’t so great for the human body. That being said, companies like Halo Top seek to make your ice cream addiction a bit less detrimental to your health.
Here’s my quick take of some of Halo Tops’ most intriguing delights.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (5/10)
An age-old classic, chocolate chip cookie dough elicits a lot of expectations and, accordingly, opinions from ice cream connoisseurs. Unfortunately, I think cookie dough lovers would be unmoved by this flavor. More than other pints, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough reveals that Halo Top is not regular ice cream. Of course, one should not expect Halo Top to taste exactly like regular ice cream as it possesses its own flavor profile. But a subpar vanilla base dominates this pint as measly morsels of cookie dough get lost in a cloud of mediocrity.
Peanut Butter Cup (10/10)
Now this. Is. Something. Special. Thick dollops of flavorful peanut butter complement a sweet, creamy base in a swirl of pure goodness. Even to those who wouldn’t consider themselves peanut butter fanatics, rest assured, you will be satisfied by this pint. Peanut Butter Cup is certainly the richest of the Halo Top flavors I’ve sampled and, by virtue of that, bears the greatest resemblance to traditional ice cream. This flavor is definitely a crowd pleaser.
Mint Chip (10/10)
In one word: perfect. Full disclosure, I’m partial to this flavor (it’s my personal favorite), but it’s also objectively really well done — I could not ask for more in a mint chip ice cream. Crisp, sweet, light, refreshing, the ice cream itself provides quite a delight. Furthermore, the chocolate chunks are just the right level of sweetness so that they complement, rather than overpower, each bite. If you’re a mint chip lover, this is — without a doubt — the Halo Top pint for you.
Unless you absolutely love strawberry ice cream (the type of love that you would never even think to get another flavor), I wouldn’t recommend this pint. The level of creaminess and sweetness were ok, but the artificial strawberry flavoring brought this pint down in my book. To be blunt, this tasted like a diluted strawberry Starburst ice cream (if that’s a thing, anyway). Personally, I like strawberry ice cream to taste like actual strawberries. This just isn’t something I’d spend money on.
Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cup (10/10)
Just when I thought Halo Top’s regular Peanut Butter Cup could not be matched, this pint proved me wrong. The brand uses coconut milk for all of their dairy-free desserts, which, in the case of Peanut Butter Cup, contributed marvelously to the flavor profile. In comparison to the regular Peanut Butter Cup, this pint contained a sweeter, softer base ice cream that served as an even more harmonious match to intermittent globs of salty peanut butter. Although both pints are superb, I would pick the non-dairy version of this flavor in a heartbeat.
All in all, I definitely recommend trying out Halo Top. I generally found it to be pretty hit or miss, but you’re sure to find your perfect pint with such a variety of flavors and dietary options. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself reaching for a pint of Peanut Butter Cup instead of your trusty Phish Food.
Obviously, alternative ice creams have come to stay. The real question is whether or not traditional ice creams will fade away.
A version of this article appeared on pg.12 of the February 25 print edition of the Daily Nexus.