Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of 2020, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation toward.
The previous Takeout Draft: Best vending machine snacks saw an utterly unprecedented result: nearly a perfect three-way tie, ultimately going to Marnie Shure, but by little more than a hair. What a good reminder to our readers that every vote counts!
This week, the topic is best ice cream flavors, a nearly infinite category, but one that we’ve attempted to rein in by sticking to flavors that can be found in national scoop shops and most grocery stores. Competing in the Thunderdome this week are members of the Takeout staff: Allison Robicelli, Marnie Shure, and Aimee Levitt. The randomizer has selected a draft order:
Marnie Shure: I’m still reeling from the results of the last draft.
Allison Robicelli: The AP cannot call those results.
Aimee Levitt: congratulations Marnie!
Allison: I demand a recanvass.
Marnie: Survey Legend results are binding, and as such, I eke out the narrowest victory in the history of our democracy.
Aimee: Although... who had access to Survey Legend? Hmmm
Marnie: I swear I’m innocent! Let’s hope for a more conclusive result today, when we discuss: Best ice cream flavors.
Allison: No one loses in a draft like this. You’re up, Levitt!
Aimee: All right! My first pick is... coffee!
Marnie: Okay, wow. Very adult
Aimee: I was eating it when I was a kid. I stole so much of my dad’s Haagen Dazs that my mom bought me my own pint.
Allison: Oh my god, SAME.
Marnie: Ha! Is there enough caffeine that you felt a buzz?
Aimee: No, but I was seriously disappointed the first time I tried real coffee.
Allison: That’s how I felt about coffee yogurt, too! It was the “sophisticated” yogurt.
Marnie: It really is a nice bitter flavor to pair with the sweet
Aimee: Also, I would like to officially note my disappointment with Ben & Jerry’s for getting rid of Heath bars in its Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, because that was my absolute favorite, and the new toffee bars they use now are garbage.
Allison: I wouldn’t have picked coffee, but now that you mentioned it, I want to eat some immediately.
For my first pick, I’m taking chocolate. Not because it’s an easy pick, but because it’s the base of my normal ice cream order: chocolate malted, extra malt.
Marnie: I’m almost relieved that such a classic is now off the table
Allison: Okay now I want a chocolate malted immediately. This draft is going to kill me.
Marnie: Just think about how cold you’d be eating one right now.
Aimee: Hot fudge!
Allison: I’m going to send Rocky out to the store to get me ice cream.
Marnie: While you do that, I’ll make my first pick: Neapolitan
Aimee: Oooh, that’s bold.
That’s, like, everything.
Do you mix them all together?
Marnie: Yes! Mix them all together and it becomes one flavor instead of three. I hated this combination as a kid, and then as an adult, it suddenly just clicked.
I really like what the strawberry does to the chocolate. And I say that as someone who doesn’t like actual fruit and chocolate together.
Allison: I’ve never liked the taste of supermarket strawberry ice cream. It tasted so gross and artificial. Maybe I should revisit it?
Marnie: As long as it doesn’t have the ice-cube-like chunks of frozen strawberry in it, I think it can be pretty good. Verrrrry sweet, but good
Allison: Is there an “artisan” chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream?
Marnie: Good question. If not, there should be
Aimee: I liked the astronaut neapolitan.
Marnie: Oh man, me too.
Okay, for my second pick, I’ll say Moose tracks
Aimee: What is in Moose Tracks exactly?
Marnie: Vanilla ice cream, mini peanut butter cups, and fudge swirl
The ribbons of fudge are the best part. They’re so thick and frozen that it’s like biting into a chocolate bar hidden in the ice cream.
Allison: I don’t know the last time I’ve had this, which is ridiculous because peanut butter cups are my favorite.
Marnie: Yeah! The mini ones admittedly have a bad chocolate-to-PB ratio, but they’re still great.
Man, are we going to have any debate in this draft, or will this be the least controversial round ever? Ice cream has yet to inspire outrage!
Aimee: Ice cream is always great.
Except when it has freezer burn.
Marnie: Allison, just try to spark debate with your next pick.
Aimee: Rum raisin! (Just kidding.)
Allison: Okay, well here we go with my second pick: vanilla. Entirely because I’m aghast that neither of you took the easy pick and went with freakin’ Neapolitan.
I didn’t want to get mean during neopolitan round, because I have some seriously bad food memories with that one.
Aimee: Vanilla is a base.
Marnie: Aimee makes a good point. Vanilla is ice cream’s potential energy state.
Allison: Not if it’s good vanilla. There’s a reason places are willing to pay a small fortune for good quality vanilla paste.
Marnie: Yeah, vanilla ice cream is great at home, but buying those vanilla pods nearly kills me every time
Aimee: There is no vanilla that cannot be improved by a good glug of hot fudge.
Allison: I mean, vanilla is quite literally the stamen of a rare orchid. This thing is precious and miraculous, and you’re like “It’s a base”
Vanilla isn’t bland! It’s magnificent!
Aimee: Because, as you pointed out, most people are too cheap to do it right. And it drags the whole flavor down!
Marnie: Vanilla’s reputation lies in ruins
Allison: This is why you should never buy cheap store brand vanilla ice cream. You should only buy stuff like moose tracks and cookies & cream, so the fillings cover its base up.
If you’re doing a plain flavor, like vanilla, coffee, or chocolate, you buy the good stuff. At least a Haagen Daaz level of quality.
Marnie: Speaking of The Good Stuff, what’s Aimee’s next pick?
Aimee: My next pick is chocolate mint.
Allison: Chocolate mint, or mint chocolate chip?
Aimee: Chocolate mint. Mint chocolate chip usually tastes like toothpaste and has the texture of gravel.
Marnie: So you prefer a base of chocolate ice cream?
Aimee: Yes, with mint flavor. I will also accept peppermint with chocolate swirls or hot fudge, but you can only get that at the holidays.
Marnie: Ahhh, yes, we found this out with the Trader Joe’s taste test.
Aimee: That stuff was good!
Marnie: So, mint chocolate chip has too much faux “minty” flavor?
Aimee: I think it’s like with vanilla: so many people take the easy way out with the cheap flavoring.
Allison: Mint is so easy to go overboard with.
Like rosewater. Too much, and you go from amazing to disaster.
Aimee: I like the chocolate mint because it’s refreshing. Sometimes chocolate gets to be too much, so it’s a nice balance.
My next pick is cookies and cream.
Aimee: Oreos are one of the world’s most perfect cookies.
Allison: Huzzah to cookies and cream!
Marnie: I love how the vanilla ice cream and the white Oreo creme blend together, and you can never tell what you’re getting a bite of.
Aimee: It’s like cookies and milk in ice cream form.
Allison: I’m that weirdo who loves the Oreo chocolate wafer, but despises the creme filling. When I eat them I pull them apart, make a Double Stuf, and then give that to one of the kids while I keep the cookies.
Marnie: I need to make sure I’m around whenever you eat Oreos
Allison: In cookies and cream ice cream, it’s like all cookies all the time. I don’t taste any of that waxy, sugary filling.
These are also excellent as milkshakes, because then the cookies get perfectly soggy.
Marnie: Oh hell yeah
The classic ice cream flavors are dwindling. What’s your next pick, Allison?
Allison: For my third pick, I’m going with Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby. “Vanilla Malt Ice Cream with Peanutty Fudge-covered Pretzels with Fudge & Peanut Buttery Swirls.”
Aimee: Ah, that’s a good one.
Marnie: I’ve never had it! I must!
Aimee: I have very fond memories of sitting with a friend on an apartment stoop in college and eating an entire carton.
Marnie: Frozen peanut butter is phenomenal, and the most untapped dessert resource I can think of.
The way it melts in your mouth?? GET OUTTA HERE
Allison: I am picking this one with a bit of embarrassment. My entire life, I was absolutely convinced I hated Chubby Hubby and never bought it. Then Matt bought it for me a few months ago during one of my late night “I NEED ICE CREAM NOW” rages, and I realized what it actually was. I had it confused with Chunky Monkey for 20 years.
So now I’m eating a ton of it to make up for lost time.
Aimee: It’s easy to mix them up. Also Cherry Garcia. They’re always all together.
Marnie: We need more variation in names
They’re all too trochaic
Allison: Oh look at you and your twenty dollar words.
Marnie: Fancy words for a fancy pint of ice cream
Aimee: Poetic meter words are very underused.
Marnie: Thank you
Aimee: Marnie, what’s your next pick?
Marnie: Okay, so my next pick flies under the radar a bit at the grocery store, but just about every major brand carries this flavor: black raspberry chocolate chip
Allison: That is something I rarely have, but goddamn it’s good. I should buy that more often
Aimee: That totally flew under my radar.
I didn’t even know it existed until this minute.
Marnie: I don’t typically buy ice cream to have in the house, but I bought it for an ice cream layer cake I made a few summers ago, and now it’s all I want to eat
It’s so weird that it’s not more celebrated, and yet, every brand carries it
The silent hero of the freezer aisle
It’s less sugary-sweet than strawberry ice cream; it has a dark richness to it. Even the cheapo brands taste fancy.
It’s the sort of ice cream that was made to stick those pirouline cookies in at a jaunty angle.
Allison: They remind me of the Joyva jelly rings you could buy next to the cash register at a bodega.
Marnie: Probably a great pairing
Allison: I’m down with anything that makes me think of Joyva
Marnie: Well, my next pick definitely won’t: butter pecan
Allison: I love butter pecan!
Marnie: It really does taste like butter, doesn’t it?
Aimee: Another overlooked classic.
Allison: It’s such an old lady flavor, but that’s precisely why I love it so much.
Marnie: It’s probably the most geriatric pick of the bunch. Even outstripping vanilla for the title.
Aimee: Now I wonder how it even got into the canon.
Marnie: The pecans are rarely even toasted. They’re just raw
Allison: You’d never order it when your parents took you out for ice cream, but you always ate it at grandma’s house
Marnie: That buttery, almost salty flavor felt so sophisticated as a kid
Aimee: It’s a quiet flavor. A caramel, not a chocolate.
Allison: My round 4 pick is pistachio. In supermarket terms, Talenti pistachio.
Marnie: Oh, Talenti pistachio is a staple around these parts.
Aimee: That’s another old-fashioned flavor. It doesn’t seem obvious.
Marnie: And yet, an unbeatable classic
Allison: My favorite ice cream when I was a kid were the pistachio flying saucers from Carvel. And we always had a lot of spumoni in my house, and the place we got it from used lots of pistachios.
I’m not sure if it’s just an Italian kid thing, but, yeah, pistachio was a staple flavor. Was always pissed that pistachio wasn’t in the Neapolitan instead of strawberry.
Marnie: What even IS pistachio flavor? It’s .....earthy? Would we call it earthy?
Allison: If it’s heavily roasted, yes. It’s always a bit salty, and toasty.
I can easily eat a pound of pistachios from a bag in one sitting. Maybe two.
Aimee: Red or white?
Allison: They’re the same! The red ones were from back in the day when we could only get pistachios imported from Turkey. They were covered with spots and hard to sell, because people thought they were “bad,” so importers started covering them with red dye to hide the spots, which for some reason people found much more appealing.
Aimee: I always liked getting the red dye on my fingers.
Allison: Then pistachios started being farmed in California, sans spots. That’s why you don’t see the red ones much anymore.
Aimee: A piece of my childhood, gone.
Allison: “Back in my day, all the pistachios were red and we liked it!”
Aimee: My next pick is salted caramel.
Marnie: Damn, how did we get this far without salted caramel??
Salted caramel is probably like, the newest addition to the canon, no?
Aimee: I think it is. It reminds me of this flavor Baskin Robbins used to have called Quarterback Crunch, which was vanilla with swirls of caramel and fudge and Rice Krispies. It had the sweet/salty thing going.
Allison: I’m, again, a weirdo who doesn’t care for salted caramel ice cream because it’s too sweet for my tastes. There’s nothing there to balance that out.
Marnie: It’s the very definition of balance! Salty and sweet!
Aimee: And now, my final pick! Chocolate peanut butter.
Marnie: DAMN THIS WAS GOING TO BE MY PICK
What a perfect flavor
Especially when they have the big melty chunks of PB in there
Aimee: Yes! And you can chew on them.
Marnie: Love a chewable PB. I freeze Uncrustables for this reason.
Allison: You know my feelings on chocolate and peanut butter. The existence of that combination proves that god exists.
Marnie: The only thing I hate about this pick is that I didn’t choose it. You’re going to win over the masses with this one.
Allison: There’s just too much good ice cream to choose from. It’s so hard to narrow it down.
Marnie: Final pick, Allison? Make it count....
Allison: I’m going back to Ben & Jerry’s here with Chocolate Fudge Brownie.
I love the whole ritual of going out for ice cream, and I love an old fashioned brownie sundae.
It’s like that, but in a carton. They don’t skimp on the brownies!
Aimee: They do not. So much chocolate!
Marnie: Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Respect
My ideal ratio is 65% brownie, 35% chocolate ice cream
Ice cream holding everything together like a cream soup holds tater tots in a hot dish.
Allison: And all their brownies are from Greyston Bakery, which provides jobs and training for the formerly homeless, incarcerated, and low income
Marnie: It’s not just any brownie that can stand up to the butterfat of B&J ice cream
I commend them
Final pick......and I’ll either live or die by this one in the votes......coconut
Aimee: Yep, very controversial.
It can be really refreshing, though.
Allison: I love coconut, but never had a good coconut ice cream from the supermarket.
Marnie: Yeah, I guess I don’t pick this up at the store very much
More at ice cream shops
Aimee: I feel like it’s more of a gelato flavor?
Marnie: Somehow it just seems fancier than other flavors. Even though, when we’re talking about real vanilla, vanilla ought to be the fanciest flavor there is
Coconut is a mild, flavorful, mellow scoop of ice cream. I’ve never regretted ordering it.
Aimee: I want all the ice cream now.