Friday 21 April 2023

9 Grocery Store "Ice Creams" That Aren't Actually Ice Cream

 When shopping for a delicious frozen treat from your supermarket's freezer aisle, you'll encounter a treasure trove of ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. Upon closer inspection, you'll also probably notice that several of the gallons, pints, and novelty items that appear to be ice cream are actually labeled as "frozen dairy dessert." But what even is that?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a product can only be classified as ice cream if it meets the following criteria:

  • Contains a minimum of 10% dairy milkfat.
  • Has no more than 100% overrun and weigh no less than 4.5 pounds per gallon.

Overrun refers to the amount of air added into a product, according to Brand EatingMore air yields a lighter and fluffier texture, while less air creates a denser and heavier consistency. The FDA regulates this percentage to keep manufacturers from selling ice cream with too much air.

Getting even more granular, there is a set of labels used to categorize ice cream by its overrun and fat content, as well as its price, brand positioning, product packaging, and ingredient quality, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. These labels, which you might have seen on your go-to ice cream products, include "economy," "regular" or "standard," "premium," and "super premium."

To help you discern the frozen dairy desserts from the real deal, we rounded up some of the ice cream imposters chilling in your grocery store's freezers. 


Breyers Frozen Dairy Desserts

breyers cookies & cream frozen dairy dessert
Courtesy of Walmart

While Breyers still sells ice cream, the brand added frozen dairy desserts to its product lineup about 10 years ago. "People really drove that decision," Nick Soukas, the former brand-building director of Unilever Ice Cream in the U.S., told The New York Times in 2013. "People are telling us, 'We want a smoother texture.'"

The ice cream brand notes on its website that it's "able to deliver" this smoother texture with its frozen dairy dessert products. These come in multiple flavors ranging from simple varieties like Extra Creamy Chocolate and Extra Creamy Vanilla to options like Cookies & Cream and Double Chocolate Brownie Batter. 


Turkey Hill Frozen Dairy Desserts

turkey hill double dunker frozen dairy dessert
Courtesy of Walmart

Breyers isn't the only ice cream giant populating the freezer aisle with frozen dairy desserts. Turkey Hill offers a variety of them, as well, such as its Double Dunker flavor.

The brand describes this product as "Mocha with cookie dough swirled with crumbles of chocolate sandwich cookies." The word "ice cream" is nowhere to be found, and "Frozen Dairy Dessert" is stamped at the bottom of the container. This messaging is reflected across the rest of Turkey Hill's frozen dairy desserts.


Friendly's Frozen Dairy Desserts

friend's denali original moose tracks

Just because Friendly's is known for its ice cream doesn't mean there aren't any posers on its flavor roster. Among the 96 products listed on the restaurant chain's website are several frozen dairy desserts, such as its Original Denali Moose Tracks. The flavor, which consists of a vanilla frozen dairy dessert base, peanut butter cups, and fudge, is described as a "wonderfully creamy frozen dessert" with a "delicious vanilla ice cream taste."


Reese's Frozen Dairy Desserts

reese's chocolate frozen dairy dessert
Courtesy of Target

Reese's kicked off 2023 by unveiling seven new frozen treats, two of which are made with "light ice cream," which has less fat and fewer calories than regular ice cream. The other five desserts feature a base of either chocolate or peanut butter frozen dairy dessert. These items include Reese's Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Reese's Chocolate Frozen Dairy Dessert, Reese's Peanut Butter Frozen Dairy Dessert Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cones, and Reese's Peanut Butter Frozen Dessert Cups.


Good Humor Bars

good humor strawberry shortcake frozen dessert bars
Courtesy of Walmart


Good Humor's dessert-inspired bars may be ice cream truck mainstays, but they're technically not ice cream by the FDA's standards. Take the Strawberry Shortcake bar, for example. According to the frozen item's product details, this bar combines "creamy vanilla flavored frozen dessert" with a "luscious strawberry core" and is then coated in the brand's signature strawberry shortcake coating. Similarly, Good Humor's Chocolate Éclair bar is also made with "creamy vanilla flavored frozen dessert," in addition to a "luscious Chocolate Éclair core" and the brand's signature cake coating.

While the product descriptions could have you fooled, these bars are still not directly being called "ice cream."


Certain Klondike Bars

klondike mint chocolate chip bars
Courtesy of Walmart

Although Klondike's original vanilla ice cream bars are, in fact, made with ice cream—"light ice cream," to be exact—not all of the brand's products can say the same. For instance, Klondike gets creative by describing its mint chocolate chip bars as a "fresh mint goodness, mixed with decadent chocolate chips, and enrobed in a dark-chocolatey coating." With a description like that, it's easy to forget that the item doesn't qualify as ice cream. Additionally, Klondike offers other frozen dairy desserts in the bar, sandwich, and cone categories.


Blue Bunny Sandwiches

blue bunny simply vanilla frozen dairy dessert sandwiches
Courtesy of Shop Rite

Ice cream sandwich, who? Blue Bunny avoids outwardly calling its sandwich treats "frozen dessert sandwiches" on the packaging by simplifying it even further, having "Sandwiches" in a larger, more conspicuous font and "Frozen Dairy Dessert" in small-sized text.

The brand's vanilla-flavored sandwiches are described on the box as "ice creamy"—as opposed to ice cream. However, it's also important to note that Blue Bunny does appear to carry ice cream sandwiches made with reduced fat ice cream, too. Both types of desserts come in similar packaging, but with different wording, which consumers could find confusing.


Blue Ribbon Classics Bars

blue ribbon classics fudge bars
Courtesy of Walmart

Like Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon Classics also uses the term "ice creamy" in the product descriptions for certain non-ice cream items, like its fudge bars. The brand highlights this descriptor again, writing on multiple product pages, "We make memories to last a lifetime. One delicious, ice creamy bite at a time."


Nestlé Drumsticks

vanilla sundae cone drumsticks
Courtesy of Drumstick

Despite being commonly regarded as a novelty ice cream cone, this popular handheld treat doesn't meet the criteria to be labeled as ice cream. Sure, the wording comes very close. Nestlé's Vanilla Sundae Cones are described as having "the classic vanilla ice cream flavor," while the Banana Split Sundae Cones feature "the classic ice cream cone flavor." Flavor? Yes. But is it ice cream? Not quite. 

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