In this day and age, there are a ton of things that often time feel too good to be true. The shoes you've been wanting are now 75% off and you immediately search the stitching to see how screwed up they are. The dude you like is *actually* reciprocating the same sort of feelings, so you immediately peg him as crazy or "there just has to be something wrong with him."
In a world full of skepticism, it's easy to see something like low-calorie ice cream and turn the other way. In fact, all summer long I followed this brand on Instagram, and all summer long I thought it was total BS. You're telling me that your 280 calorie pint of ice cream is going to taste just as good as my 270 calorie serving sized Ben & Jerry's? GTFO. Sorry, Charlie. I ain't buying it.
But, there came a point in my life where I did buy it. I found myself sitting in front of the fridge wearing a satin Alice & Olivia dress at 3AM after coming home from a bender with my friends, spoon in hand and Half Baked in my mouth. I woke up that next morning feeling so god damn shitty, I swore that I either: A) can't keep ice cream in the house, or B) find an alternative.
I opted to find the alternative.
To date, I have tried 5 flavors from the Halo Top line, and today, I'll be ranking those 5 flavors for: taste, texture, and *flavor authenticity.* This post will be followed up will another 5-pint round up, until we ultimately end up at the OFFICIAL ranking of every flavor. So follow along, fellow creamy lovers.
Birthday Cake; 280 calories per pint
Birthday Cake was the very first flavor that I tried from Halo Top. As someone who is obsessed with all things funfetti cake, I thought this would be a safe bet in trying out the brand for the first time. Well, I had that idea totally wrong, as you should never try the flavor that you absolutely love on the first attempt. You'll always find something wrong with it, because it's just *not* the same. Just like New Yorkers are critical of pizza from California and Boston gives a side-eye to clam chowder found in Mexico, Birthday Cake was my least favorite of the bunch.
That's not to say that is isn't good, and in part I feel I didn't give it a fair chance, but it just lacks that birthday/funfetti cake flavor that you would expect. I also found the texture to be more icey than I did creamy, but the mixed-in sprinkles were a nice touch. I won't buy this one again, though.
*Flavor authenticity: 5/10
Pistachio; 240 calories per pint
It must be noted that pistachio is one of my favorite ice cream flavors of all time. That may be the Italian in me, I don't know, or it may just be the simple fact that it's fucking delicious. Either way, me and pistachio have a long history of loving each other.
When I saw Halo release a pistachio flavor, I knew this had to be the next flavor that I tried. I'll admit that I wasn't too impressed by my first bite, however as I kept eating it, I discovered a much more pistachio-like flavor. The texture is incredibly creamy, and perfectly hits that sweet spot. You don't get hit with an overwhelming amount of that fake sugar taste, however I will note that it's definitly there. It's tolerable, and acceptable, considering this pint will only set you back 240 calories. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I can still have my beloved pistachio ice cream without fucking up my diet.
*Flavor authenticity: 7/10
Peanut Butter Cup; 320 calories per pint
If you've been following me on social media for even just 5 minutes, you already know that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite candy of all time. If you come over to my apartment, you will never not find a pack of them in the fridge or an empty wrapper straggling on the counter. Big ones, small ones, peanut butter cups alike, I accept them all.
Much like with pistachio, when I got wave of this new Halo flavor, I set out to find it immediately. We strolled into Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon, specifically for this ice cream, and we all know what Whole Foods on a Saturday afternoon looks like. I was a woman on a mission.
I tore into this as soon as we got home, and guys, whoa. I wouldn't go as far as to say that it taste exactly like a peanut butter cup, but it's a helluva close call. It's creamy, nutty, chocolatey and just down right delicious. I do wish this one was lower in calories (maybe more on the 280 spectrum), as I found the texture to be similar to the pistachio, which is 80 cals lower per pint. I'm not complaining though, seeing as the peanut butter ice cream I used to turn to was about 280 calories a serving. And we know there's no such thing as a serving of ice cream. Give me the entire pint or give me death. There's no in between.
~ This one is a must try for my fellow pEaNuT bUtTeRcUp LoVeRs. ~
*Flavor authenticity: 8/10
Sea Salt Caramel; 280 calories per pint
The last two flavors, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Sea Salt Caramel, were by far the hardest to rank differently. If I was being easy and less critical, I would call it a draw and say they are BOTH 10/10. However, this isn't 2nd grade and we all don't get a trophy in the end. There will always be one that outshines the other even by a fraction, and when talking about something so serious as ice cream, those tiny fractions matter.
Let's start with sea salt caramel...
I've never been a huge fan of salted caramel. Regular caramel? Shower me in it. Salted caramel? Meh. Even when the whole sea salt caramel craze hit, it never appealed to me as a flavor that I just *had* to have. However I was having a weird moment one day and viciously craving this caramel gelato that I ate in Italy back in February. Seeing as I'm about 4,000 miles away from Rome, that option just wasn't in my cards for the day. I had to improvise, and that improvising led me to Halo Top's Sea Salt Caramel. Admittedly, I stood there for a few minutes bouncing between this one and their Oatmeal Cookie variety (which I'll be trying next), but since the craving was real, I chose the caramel. And it had some big shoes to fill.
While this ice cream will never stand a leg next to the caramel gelato that I had in Italy, I don't think I'll ever eat a different caramel ice cream here in states ever again. This shit is GOOD. Like, really good. Almost too good? The kind of good that you start to question if you're really only eating 280 calories? The creamy texture, the caramel swirl, UGH YOU GUYS. I ate the entire pint for dinner one night while watching an episode of Gilmore Girls and I regret not a fucking thing.
The only reason why Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough beat Sea Salt Caramel in the ranking is because of flavor authenticity. If you ask me, this just taste more like caramel ice cream, not sea salt caramel. While this is a minor aspect, I feel it's worth ranking correctly as to not get sea salt caramel connoisseur's hopes up.
*Flavor authenticity: 9/10
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; 360 calories per pint
You already know this is the winning flavor here, but I'll dive into detail a bit more to give you a better sense as to why it's the winning flavor here. First off, this straight up taste like the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that you'd buy at any ol' ice cream shop. The type that's loaded with sugar, fat, and the sweat of some little poor ice cream-making grandma. Chunky bites of actual cookie dough are blanketed by the creamy vanilla flavor that is distributed throughout the entire pint. While I'm sure each package of ice cream varies, I didn't have one bite without a piece of cookie dough. That's some serious ice cream : cookie ratio business. This stuff is so good that I completely forgot that I was eating a low-cal variety, as there is nothing low cal about the flavor. If you grew up loving cookie dough bites at the movie theater on a Sunday, you will absolutely love this.
*Flavor authenticity: 10/10
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough won by nailing a 10/10 for each category, however putting those components aside, I feel Sea Salt Caramel is the real winner. While, yes, choc-chip is more authentic to its name, Sea Salt Caramel's flavor is incredible for fewer calories, making it a win-win on more than just a 3 category ranking system.
Overall, so far I'm very impressed by Halo Top, and will continue to purchase the other flavors for my next 5-pint ranking. Be sure to keep an eye out for part 2 within the next month!