Taste-Testing The Best Chocolate Ice Cream Brands From Supermarkets

Here at Westchester Magazine, all of our taste test days are cause for excitement. But this may have been the most joyous yet: the quest to find the top store-bought chocolate ice cream brand (National Chocolate Ice Cream Day is on June 7, after all). Tub after carton after pint was lined up on the counter in our official test kitchen, each smiling taster knowing they had to try every brand multiple times looking for the creamiest, the most chocolaty, the milkiest—it was work, but fun work to be sure.  

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The ice creams—each the brand’s basic chocolate flavor; no peanut butter-banana swirl-hazelnut-latte variations—were left to sit out for approximately five minutes before tasting, so each could soften and deliver maximum flavor. With 10 brands and 19 staffers strong, we went in blind (the containers were lidless and concealed in bags), rating each from one to five (five being the highest) in four categories: visual appeal, chocolate flavor, texture & consistency, and overall. A perfect score would be 20 points.

Photography by Nicholas Gallinelli & Byron Kittle


The Runners-Up

​10th Place: Whole Foods 365

8.2 points

“Weak flavor,” “not sweet enough,” “not very chocolaty,” “malty,” and a color that looked like “hazelnut” or “coffee” were among myriad complaints about Whole Foods’ house brand.

9th Place: SoCo Creamery

8.6 points

This Berkshires, Massachusetts-based creamery proved very unpopular: “gummy texture,” “too bitter,” “strange flavor,” and “tastes like metal” were but some of the negative observations. One taster dramatically wrote, “can’t put into words how awful this is—it ruined ice cream for me.” 

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More Taste Test Tuesday: The Best And Worst Store-Bought Vanilla Ice Cream 

8th Place: Turkey Hill

11.1 points

The “smooth,” “milky” taste was a plus, but most thought the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based company owned by mega-retailer Kroger was “too soft,” “too sweet,” “too airy,” and ultimately “just okay.”

7th Place: Ronnybrook Farm

11.2 points

The “icy” texture and “bland” flavor turned off many to this Hudson Valley (Pine Plains) dairy, but others felt it “tasted like chocolate milk” and was “pretty good.”

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6th Place: Trader Joe’s

12.8 points

A “rich,” “authentic,” “deep chocolate flavor” that “tastes like brownies” won over some, while others complained of a “weird taste” and that it “wasn’t sweet enough.” 

5th Place: Edy’s

13.3 points

“Just a bit above average” and “creamy” had Edy’s (marketed as Dreyer’s in the western US) finish in the top half of the scoring. It lost points from some by having an “artificial aftertaste.”

4th Place: Breyer’s

13.5 points

“Not bad,” “a solid taste,” and “creamy” were what most tasters thought of this brand owned by multinational company Unilever. On the downside, a number of reviewers stated it needed “more chocolate flavor” and was “kind of average.”

The Winners

3rd Place: Ben & Jerry’s

14.2 points

Turns out Ben & Jerry’s can still nail a plain flavor. “Good chocolate color,” “intense chocolate flavor,” and “very, very yum” summed up our thoughts of the Vermont-based, socially conscious ice creamery known for creatively named flavors full of chunks of this and swirls of that. A number of detractors felt it was too “bitter” and “not sweet enough,” though.

2nd Place: Friendly’s

14.4 points

In our vanilla ice cream taste test, Friendly’s finished dead last. So it was a surprise to most that the 10,000-employee-strong East Coast chain scored high with their chocolate. “Taste is yum-o,” “classic chocolate flavor,” and “sweet and creamy” represented a majority of the comments. 

1st Place: Häagen Dazs

14.8 points

The “milky” and “rich” flavor coupled with a “silky,” “creamy texture” had most tasters giving high scores all around to this national brand that started in the Bronx in 1961. It’s one of the few commercial ice creams not to use stabilizers such as guar or xanthan gum to give the product a fuller mouth feel and slow down melting. A few holdouts thought it “could have more chocolate flavor to make it great.”

So there you have it: the best store-bought chocolate ice cream brands. At the end of the day, though, if your dish doesn’t look like this when you’re done, you’re buying the wrong stuff!

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