Frozen treats: Ranking the best sweet, tasty ice cream flavors

In the middle of the night, Thomas Sellers Jr. might tip toe into the kitchen to grab a couple of bits of chocolate brownie fudge from his wife Ruth’s stash. Courtesy photo.

I know it’s weird that I eat more ice cream during January and February.

But as the temperatures drop below freezing, I have an unexplainable desire to coat my insides with a frozen dessert. Since my childhood, ice cream has brought me joy. Whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall, I can find myself enjoying a bowl, cone or baseball helmet full of the sweet treat.

Who remembers the Dairy Queen helmet? Since I am on Memory Lane, I would love to be 7 years old again at Baskin-Robbins with my sister Shay and Mom eating our favorite flavors.

Despite having 31 options, my sister and I would pick the same flavor each time (my choice will be my No. 1 in this countdown).

One time my sister convinced me to trade cones. After a minute of eating her butterscotch, I was ready to get my old, trusted friend back. The feeling was mutual as my sister quickly said, “Give me back my ice cream.”

Cream Ice was the original name of this product. According to folklore it appeared regularly at the table of Charles I (ruler of England and Scotland) during the 17th century. Other parts of Europe, such as France, were introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France. It wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public.

Now we enjoy dozens and dozens of flavors. There are combinations and twist on classics that we eat in 2019. Some candy brands have joined in on the fun by placing their product inside various flavors.

I thought composing a top 10 ice cream flavor list would be hard, but the thing about ice cream is that you just have your favorites.

So I excluded sherbets (maybe that will be a Best Sellers’ List down the road) to break down my best of the best in your local grocer’s freezer.

10. Butter pecan Place of origin: United States

Butter pecan is a perfect compliment to cake. But the sweet, salty combination stands well on its own. The flavor of butter pecan can be found in cakes, cookies and ice cream. The recipe is roasted pecans, butter and vanilla flavor. It is a smooth flavor that goes well in coffee as well. Butter pecan ice cream is silky, buttery, sweet and crunchy.

9. Snickers ice cream Place of origin: Mars … Incorporated

One of the best candy bars of all time is the Snickers. It’s delicious all on its own, and some genius decided to combine the milk chocolate, caramel, peanut-filled nougat treat with ice cream. Amen!

Here is the ingredient list for Snickers ice cream, made with creamy peanut butter ice cream, smooth caramel and crunchy peanuts and covered in a chocolate shell.

Another form of Snickers ice cream is the frozen bar. The Snickers ice cream bars are enjoyable treats that look like the form you buy at checkout. The ice cream bar form is perfect for a summer road trip or for dessert at a picnic.

During the winter season, a tub of Snickers ice cream is ideal to have in the freezer. It is perfect for holiday movie time or as a reward after a below-freezing workout at the gym.

8. Pistachio almond Place of origin: Baskin-Robbins

I’m starting to notice a trend with my ice cream eating habits. I must like some kind of nut added to the sweet creamy dessert. Pistachio is great on its own. But when Baskin-Robbins added almonds to the mean green ice cream, it was a piece of Heaven.

The pistachio, a member of the cashew family, originated from Central Asia and the Middle East. Then the flavor made its way into our U.S. foods such as pudding. Then the company known for ice cream innovation created pistachio almond.

The recipe is cream, nonfat milk, roasted almonds, sugar and a few more ingredients. The last crucial part of making pistachio almond is my money to purchase it from Baskin-Robbins.

7. Chocolate brownie Place of origin: Ruth’s kitchen

Known as chocolate brownie or chocolate fudge brownie, no matter how you identify this ice cream it packs mega-flavor. I am not a fan of traditional chocolate ice cream. And I don’t care too much for chocolate chips or fudge strips added to ice cream.

But I’ve learned to love chocolate brownie ice cream. My wife, Ruth Montgomery, introduced it to me two years ago, and I didn’t have high expectation when she bought a tub of it. “Here goes more chocolate ice cream in my house” was my thought.

Then I began to notice she was not offering me any. It was like her guilty pleasure all for herself. So I helped myself to a spoonful one afternoon. That was a mistake.

When Ruth arrived home from a long day at work, she was ready to relax with a bowlful of chocolate brownie Heaven. For some reason, she only had enough for a cone. I got carried away. Now she buys enough for two. Chunks of brownies wrapped in creamy softness is a great combination.

6. Lemon custard Place of origin: Australia

I love fruits and fruit-flavored treats. From cake to cookies, if you can mix in some kind of fruit, you have a great chance of getting me hooked. So the first ice cream flavor with a fruit as the primary taste is lemon custard. The scary part it is not easy to make. Start with a large saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually add milk and whisk a small amount of hot milk mixture into the eggs. Remove from the heat and stir in cream and lemon juice. Then fill the cylinder of the ice cream freezer two-thirds full. After freezing it is time to enjoy the ice cream. It has a light fluffy flavor but at the same time it still manages to make you full.

Dad is the person who introduced me to this flavor via Angel Food. While Mom bought us our own tub of ice cream, Dad got a whole lemon custard to himself. On nights after work when he was relaxing with his dessert, I would come give him a hug. My Dad would look down at me with eyes peeking over his glasses. “You want some of my ice cream?”

I guess I was still cute and innocent enough because I always got a couple of spoons of lemon custard.

5. Vanilla Place of origin: France

The foundation of all ice creams has to be somewhere on this list. It might be plain but vanilla is beloved in North America and Europe. Vanilla ice cream, like other flavors of ice cream, was originally created by cooling a mixture made of cream, sugar and vanilla above a container of ice and salt. Although it is basic, vanilla can have so many little twists.

Vanilla ice cream was introduced to the states when Thomas Jefferson brought the recipe back from France during the 1780s. Jefferson was known as a smart man and innovator. It makes sense he gave the United States vanilla ice cream, leading to many other wonderful flavors of ice cream. That alone earned Jefferson his spot as one of our Founding Fathers.

4. Black walnut Place of origin: United States

I want to take a moment to shout out these areas, Southern Ontario, west to southeast South Dakota, Southern Georgia, Northern Florida and southwest to central Texas. They grow black walnuts. And their contribution to our food force helps make black walnut ice cream. Other key components are milk, cream, sugar, caramel color and corn syrup.

Black walnut is not only good on the taste buds but it smells so delicious, too. Two of the best versions come from Turner and Baskin-Robbins.

My Mom is a huge fan of black walnut. She will fight you over it. You don’t mess with her black walnut. Half the time we didn’t know she sneaked some in the house. But that aroma would blow her cover and she would give us the Mama Death Stare. That worked on us but not Dad.

3. Banana split Place of origin: Blue Bunny

I love a banana split. No matter your age, the joy of making an old-school banana split is an instant stress reliever. But as I’ve aged, I have gotten so lazy. I want the delicious taste of a banana split without all the work. And I want to save a few dollars in the process.

Not to worry, Blue Bunny came up with the answer a few years ago with Banana Split Ice Cream. Take banana ice cream with fudge and strawberry swirls, pineapple pieces and mixed nuts.

I go buy a can of instant whipped cream and a cherry to place on top. In less than 5 minutes I am enjoying a savory banana split in a bowl.

2. Cookies ’n’ cream Place of origin: United States

Ice cream plus crushed Oreo cookies equals pure gold. Whether it is the well-known cookie version at Baskin-Robbins or a cheap knockoff, this flavor is perfection. Cookies ’n’ cream is so good that people are fighting over the creation of it. Tiny Tim, an ice cream consultant, claims to have created the flavor in 1976. Then South Dakota State University claims to have invented the ice cream at its dairy plant in 1979. Blue Bell Creameries claim they first mass-produced the flavor in 1980. John Harrison, the official taster for Dreyer’s/Edy’s Ice Cream, claims he invented it first for the company in 1982. Finally Steve Herrell in Massachusetts at Herrell’s Ice Cream staked his claim to cookies ’n’ cream. In 1983 the flavor was the best selling in the United States.

I’m just glad I was born in 1981. So during those years when people were fighting over who invented cookies ’n’ cream, I was developing taste buds for it. I’m just old enough to remember that cookies ’n’ cream is fantastic.

1. Strawberry Place of origin: United States

There are two versions of strawberry ice cream I absolutely love. The first version was at Dairy Queen when Mom would order me soft-served vanilla covered in strawberry syrup and strawberries. After eating a couple of spoons, I would stir the rest into the vanilla ice cream to make the second version.

No. 2 is strawberry ice cream in pink form.

Back in 1813, President James Madison celebrated his second inauguration in style with some of the dessert. It was a simple treat as strawberry ice cream is a flavor of ice cream made with strawberry or strawberry flavoring. It is made by blending in fresh strawberries or strawberry flavoring with the eggs, cream, vanilla and sugar used to make ice cream.

Full disclosure here, I hate vanilla ice cream with strawberry chunks frozen inside of it. Gross.

Strawberry ice cream is the flavor mixed throughout. And Angel Food did it the best. That was the brand that got me hooked. So on my birthday, hook me up with strawberry cake with real strawberries on top with a side of strawberry ice cream. Think pink.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to