We Tried 9 Different Ice Cream Sandwiches and the Winner Won By a Landslide

Ice cream is the quintessential summer dessert, but there are tons of other warm-weather treats that we look forward to as the season heats up. There are pies and cakes (some of which scream party), fruity cobblers, and chill stuff like popsicles. We're fans of all of those options, but sometimes we crave something a little simpler, like a classic ice cream sandwich.

And sure, you can make your own ice cream sandwich using any combination of cookies and ice cream that speaks to you, but there's something nostalgic about an old-school ice cream sandwich with the thin chocolate cookie and the fluffy vanilla ice cream. It's a quick grab-and-go treat and tastes even better if you eat it outside, preferably near a large body of water.

Our ice cream sandwich enthusiasm got us thinking about the classic treat, which is said to have started in 1899 in New York. The story goes that street vendors were selling small slabs of ice cream in paper called "hokey pokeys" but one vendor had a breakthrough when they put the ice cream between two cookies. Since then, the treat has morphed into what we pull out of boxes in the freezer often wrapped in plain white paper.

When we went to the grocery store to check out the current selection we were surprised by the number of options, so we decided to pick up every box we could find and put them to the test. Read on for our ranking of 9 popular ice cream sandwiches, ranked worst to best. 

Related: 20 Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Flavors, Ranked Worst to Best

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

Parade Approved badge<p>Parade</p>
Parade Approved badge

Parade

How We Tested These Ice Cream Sandwiches

Let's start with who "we" are. We're me, Nina Elder, Deputy Editor, Food & Drink here at Parade, plus my team of tasters: my husband, Matt, a longtime ice cream sandwich enthusiast; our 9-year-old son, Gus; and two of his pals, another 9-year-old and a 13-year-old, who we knew from experience would only give us honest feedback (for better or worse).

When we tasted the sandwiches, I unwrapped them and arranged them on a cutting board to make the test as blind as possible. I cut them into small pieces and then we dug in. Everyone gave each sandwich a score and provided some tasting notes. At the end of the tasting, we had a unanimous winner.

To make sure we were comparing apples to apples (so to speak), we narrowed our choices to classic ice cream sandwiches, which we define as the type with thin chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream in the middle. That meant that fancy flavors (looking at you, brownie crisp and coffee ice cream sandwiches from Trader Joe's) and ice cream sandwiches that use chocolate chip or other cookies weren't eligible.

We stopped by a handful of stores in southern Massachusetts and northern Rhode Island—Trader Joe's, Aldi, Walmart, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods—and picked up as many brands as we could find. At the end of our ice cream sandwich quest (a huge thank you to my husband and mother-in-law for helping shop!) we had 9 different brands to put to the test.

Because the ice cream sandwiches had to sit out during the tasting and the tasting itself was a bit chaotic, the next day I sat by myself and sampled each sandwich one by one. I made a few minor adjustments to the ranking based on that solo tasting, but those adjustments were only in the back of the pack. In both the group and solo tasting the winner was abundantly clear.

Related: 20 Blue Bell Ice Cream Flavors, Ranked Worst to Best

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

9 Popular Ice Cream Sandwiches, Ranked Worst to Best

It's finally time for the complete ranking. Clear some room in your freezer for the winner because we think you might want to stock up.

9. Great Value Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

Walmart's version of the classic treat is super affordable but it didn't wow any of the tasters. Straight out of the freezer, the ice cream was hard, relatively flavorless and a bit icy. The cookie was sticky and had an off flavor. I thought it tasted a bit like graham cracker and my husband, Matt, was getting a very mild gingerbread taste. Either way, it wasn't the flavor we wanted in an ice cream sandwich. Our teen taster declared, "It's dry and doesn't taste like anything."

8. Friendly's Friendwich Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

This option isn't bad, but we generally found that it lacked flavor. One kid taster detected a sour flavor in the ice cream and Matt called this one "flavorless." I got a strange chemical aftertaste from the cookie that tasted like a cold refrigerator smells (and yes, I'm strange). And this has nothing to do with the flavor, but every bar in the box was wrapped incorrectly, leaving one end a bit open, which was a bit disconcerting.

7. Sundae Shop Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

We're big Aldi fans here at Parade, but these ice cream sandwiches missed the mark for us. They were significantly softer right out of the freezer than the other ice cream sandwiches and the cookie had a stale taste. My kiddo found the cookie to be bitter and his teen friend gave this one a 0/10, though he didn't say why. When I went back to do my follow-up solo tasting I didn't love these but did prefer them to a couple of the other brands.

Related: People Love Aldi Chocolate Bars. We Ranked Our Top 10

6. Stop & Shop Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

Tasters were a bit split on this one, which is how it ended up in the middle-ish of the pack. I thought there was a decent vanilla flavor in the ice cream, which, after tasting nine different ice cream sandwiches, you realize is pretty rare. The cookie didn't taste like much, but it wasn't offensive. Gus found it too sweet overall, which is interesting for a kid who never tires of eating gummy candy and lollipops. Matt thought the ice cream had a Cool Whip-ish flavor, which is another note that came up more than once in this tasting. Not to go down another one of my flavor description rabbit holes, but the ice cream does have a hollow sweetness that fills your mouth and then kind of evaporates. The flavor starts off round and sweet then disappears like a bubble popping. It's a weird sensation. (And yes, this is the kind of thing food editors think about way too much.)

5. Hood Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

This classic New England brand was what Matt grew up with in Massachusetts. In our tasting, we found the sandwich to be a bit bland. The cookie has a bit of a staleness to it and the ice cream is pretty one-note. That said, these aren't bad, but they're not remarkable either. The cookie has the kind of structure that causes the ice cream to squeeze out the sides. Some of the other options managed to marry the cookie and ice cream in a way that you can bite through both without a ton of oozing. Although we will admit that an oozing ice cream sandwich is a core summer memory.

4. Alden's Organic Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

This ice cream sandwich, one of two organic options in the bunch, was ok but didn't blow us away. The cookie was very light in color and had a slightly bitter aftertaste. The ice cream was smooth and creamy but wasn't particularly rich or flavorful. Gus gave this one a 9/10 as did one of his pals, so the kids are in favor of this option.

3. Klondike Classic Vanilla Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

As you'd expect, Klondike was one of the square ice cream sandwich options. The cookie was fine, but both Matt and I thought the ice cream had a curious flavor. I thought it tasted ever so slightly fruity; Matt got cotton candy notes. That said, the boys didn't pick up any of those notes and rated it 7/10, 7/10 and 5/10. The 5 was from the teen, who we quickly learned was a very harsh critic, giving a few 0/10 ratings.

2. 365 Whole Foods Market Organic Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

If you're looking for an organic ice cream sandwich, we'd suggest this one. The cookie was nice and chocolatey and much darker in color than some of the other cookies. The cookie also had a nice hit of salt, which helped to balance out the sweetness. the ice cream is nice and smooth and creamy. The younger boys both gave it a 7/10 and the teen deemed it a 6/10, which is high for him.

Related: I Went to Whole Foods With My Chef-Husband and My Grocery Shopping is Forever Changed

1. Fat Boy Ice Cream Sandwiches

<p>Nina Elder</p>

Nina Elder

Just when we thought that there wasn't much difference among these ice cream sandwiches, we bit into this one. As soon as we tasted the Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches we all looked at each other and started nodding because it was head and shoulders above the rest. I wasn't sure of the thickness going into the tasting because I feared it might be too much ice cream to cookie. And it might have been if the ice cream wasn't so delicious. It's smooth and creamy and rich and you can taste the vanilla. The cookie is chocolatey and not bitter at all and is soft but not sticky. I went for the mini version because we were tasting NINE ice cream sandwiches but I'd happily commit to a full-size sandwich if I were only having one.

But Matt and I weren't the only ones who placed this one in the #1 spot. Gus gave it an 8/10, his fellow 9-year-old gave it a 10/10 and the teen also gave it a perfect score, which speaks volumes.

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