Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Illustration: Nick Wanserski

When Dairy Queen introduced the Blizzard in 1985, it was a big step forward in ice cream shop innovation. Before, you had hand-dipped cones and soft serve, sundaes and splits. If your shop knew what it was doing, you might be able to swing a chocolate- or sprinkle-covered cone, and there was always the milkshake. Blizzards changed all that, blending popular sundae toppings—toppings with name brands, even—with Dairy Queen’s signature soft serve. You didn’t just have to have a spoonful of Oreos on your vanilla ice cream anymore. Now, thanks to the magic of the DQ Blizzard machine, you could have a spoonful of Oreos in your ice cream.

Thirty-five years later, the DQ Blizzard has been ripped off and blown up, with the Warren Buffett–owned chain now offering no fewer than 15 Blizzard options at all times, plus seasonal options and off-menu selections. And while Blizzards are inherently customizable—you can add mint flavoring to just about any of the options, for instance, or make any of the Blizzards with either chocolate or twist ice cream—the classics remain classics for a reason. Right?

Spurred by the knowledge that we could ostensibly be paid to consume an insane amount of ice cream in an ill-advisedly short amount of time, The Takeout set out to taste and rank all of Dairy Queen’s available Blizzards. Using an extremely scientific metric, we calculated each item’s tastiness and/or grossness on a 20-point scale, and our resulting list is in this slideshow, in ascending order of greatness. Please feel free to tell us we’re wrong in the comments and on Twitter.

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16. M&M’s (4 points)

16. M&M’s (4 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Here’s the thing with M&M’s: They’re great on their own and terrible in ice cream. Unlike other prepackaged treats that give a bit of themselves to the Blizzard’s dairy base, M&M’s keep their flavor hidden below their hard outer coating. Not just that, they also only get harder when in cold conditions, making their presence in a Blizzard a potential dental concern instead of a simple sweet treat.

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15. Choco Brownie Extreme (5 points)

15. Choco Brownie Extreme (5 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Another variation on a theme, Choco Brownie Extreme blends chewy brownie pieces, chocolate chunks—sorry, “choco chunks,” as per the DQ site—and “cocoa fudge” into vanilla soft serve. You’d never know it was vanilla, though, as the whole thing turns into an extremely chocolatey mess that’s more like candy than ice cream. Nothing plays together and nothing is enhanced, making the whole thing entirely forgettable.

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14. Wonder Woman Cookie Collision (6 points)

14. Wonder Woman Cookie Collision (6 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

“Collision” is a good term for what’s happening here: one broadly sweet flavor crashing into another until all you can taste is frozen dessert in the most generic sense. Though it boasts chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolatey cookie dough, and fudge, there is no textural contrast between any of it, and hardly any contrast with the surrounding soft serve. It’s fine, but not distinctive in any way that might place it on the worth-a-try end of the spectrum. It’s a Blizzard that lives up to its cross-promotional status, coming across as something of an afterthought. 

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13. Heath (7 points)

13. Heath (7 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Although one of our A.V. Club colleagues has intimated that this entire list is invalid because of the Heath Blizzard’s placement in the rankings, we’re sticking to our guns and maintaining that this toffee-heavy Blizzard is kind of a bummer. It’s too crunchy, and the toffee flavor lingers in a way that’s fairly unpleasant, even for people who like toffee. It’s unbalanced and off-kilter and, in our opinion, too much.

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12. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (7.5 points)

12. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (7.5 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Cookie dough is a utility player in the world of Blizzards. It can nestle itself along any of the name-brand candies without upstaging them, and it can fit in with any base flavor well. But those assets are exactly why it ranks so low when isolated. It has an artificial cookie dough flavor, the kind that blends in with the vanilla ice cream too easily. It’s pleasant and inoffensive, but it’s not worth writing home about.

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11. Royal Rocky Road Trip (9 points)

11. Royal Rocky Road Trip (9 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

The lesser of Dairy Queen’s two Royal Blizzard flavors, Royal Rocky Road falters because it lives up to its name a little too well. There’s nothing wrong with rocky road as an ice cream, and that’s the problem with this Blizzard: It doesn’t offer anything a scoop of ice cream wouldn’t. Where the New York Cheesecake Royal is distinct, the Royal Rocky Road Blizzard exists to mimic something that’s already behind the counter. 

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10. Turtle Pecan Cluster (10.5 points)

10. Turtle Pecan Cluster (10.5 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

The Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard is Dairy Queen’s attempt to join Blizzards and sundaes in some sort of unholy union. What makes a Blizzard work is its ability to have flavors mix, while a sundae is all about toppings. The Turtle Pecan Cluster does an admirable job of marrying these two opposing desserts, but it’s hard to nab a single bite that captures the Blizzard’s opposing halves. When everything comes together in a perfectly balanced spoonful, it’s satisfying in a way few other Blizzards are. Sadly, that’s rarely the case.

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9. Cotton Candy (11 points)

9. Cotton Candy (11 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

You know those few errant bits in an airy helping of cotton candy that taste like the sugars fused and caramelized just the tiniest bit during preparation, leaving you crunching down on an otherwise melt-in-your-mouth treat? Those are exactly the bits that comprise a Cotton Candy Blizzard, though they’re called “cotton candy sprinkles” in the product description. And while there are plenty of people out there who won’t appreciate the cloying, uncanny sweetness of spun sugar, it will absolutely appeal to lovers of actual cotton candy. And because this Blizzard is so perfectly suited to its intended audience, it gains a respectable spot in the rankings.

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8. Frosted Animal Cookie (12 points)

8. Frosted Animal Cookie (12 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Many cookie add-ins don’t work in Blizzards because the cold temperature can mask or dull their flavors. But whether it’s because their sugary coating blends into the soft serve, or because of some unseen assist from added vanilla extract, the frosted animal cookie bits remain packed with flavor here, and the nonpareils that form the cookies’ “confetti frosting” are a surprisingly unifying element, tying everything together in a way you didn’t know you needed. This is a crunchy, satisfying treat—and sometimes it’s just more fun to order a bright pink Blizzard.

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7. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (12.5 points)

7. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (12.5 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Few candies are as divine as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. This is due in large part to peanut butter cups not allowing for much tinkering. There are some novelty shapes here, a bigger size there, and occasionally some different types of chocolate used, but it’s about as straightforward as candy gets. It only makes sense that a Reese’s Blizzard works well even if it’s not the most dynamic. It’s a simple item and one that’s rightly considered a classic.

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6. Butterfinger (13 points)

6. Butterfinger (13 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

Although the candy sticks to your teeth a little, the Butterfinger Blizzard lands toward the top of this list because of its balance. It’s a little salty, a lot sweet, a little crunchy, and a little squishy. It’s the best of all worlds, with the crispity, crunchity candy bar somehow lending its peanut butter essence to the ice cream via osmosis, taking the whole creamy mess to a whole other level.

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5. Oreo (15 points)

5. Oreo (15 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

The mix-in is what truly defines a Blizzard, and each candy option has its loyalists. That being said, Oreos are a staple of ice cream shop menus for their sheer versatility. They can be crunched up as a topping or swirled inside and work well in both presentations. As the mailman sitting next to us at the Dairy Queen noted, “You can’t go wrong with Oreo,” and he’s right. It might not be the flashiest item on the menu, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s damn good just the way it is.

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4. S’mores (16 points)

4. S’mores (16 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

We all know the key ingredients in s’mores, and DQ features them with a bit of a twist: marshmallow-filled chocolates and chunks of graham cracker. The marshmallow flavor gets a bit lost when you bite down on the cold chocolate pieces with a firm crack, but the roasty graham cracker flavor permeates the soft serve all the way through—and because of that, you’d never mistake this for any other Blizzard. However graham cracker pops up as an ingredient on the Blizzard menu, Dairy Queen is wise to consistently feature it. 

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3. Raspberry Fudge Bliss (17 points)

3. Raspberry Fudge Bliss (17 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

“Real raspberries, soft fudge pieces, and and choco chunks” doesn’t accurately convey the magic that happens when you throw all three of these into a soft serve churn. The raspberries are helped out by what tastes like some enhanced artificial raspberry flavor, but it’s not a problem, especially because you can see very real remnants of those very real raspberries inside the Blizzard, including those little hairs (pistils) that stick out of the berries’ surface. When mixed into store-bought ice cream, berries (owing to their high water content) basically turn into ice cubes; in a Blizzard, they have the soft bite and big flavor they ought to, and the fudgy add-ins don’t overpower them.

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2. Royal New York Cheesecake (18.5 points)

2. Royal New York Cheesecake (18.5 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

DQ’s Royal Blizzards are just an overall great addition to the menu, and Royal New York Cheesecake is the best one by far. Rich and surprisingly light for a dessert that’s made of presumably shitty cheesecake and a bunch of ice cream, the Royal New York Cheesecake Blizzard is enhanced by the strawberry sauce at its core, which adds a crisp fruitiness not really present in most candy-and-chocolate-centric Blizzards. While many of the Blizzards on this list tanked because they tried to do too much, Royal Cheesecake succeeds on its restraint.

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1. Oreo Cheesecake (19 points)

1. Oreo Cheesecake (19 points)

Illustration for article titled Dairy Queen Blizzards: Our updated rankings
Photo: DQ

1. Oreo Cheesecake (19 points)

Remember what we said about Oreo? How its delicious versatility is its greatest asset? Well, Oreo Cheesecake dials up Oreos’ strengths even further by tossing them in with cheesecake bites and chocolatey soft serve. The sweetness of the cookies is a great companion to the tangy, creamy cheesecake pieces, which add a velvety texture that’s somehow a welcome addition to an already dairy-loaded experience. Each bite offers a different ratio of crunchy cookie to smooth ice cream, and each combination is nearly perfect.

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DISCUSSION

How dare you. Obviously, the Skor blizzard is the CEO of blizzards.