“Krispy Kreme has just entered the ice cream game,” read recent headlines about a very exciting new product drop. As a former ice cream addict forced into early dairy retirement, my lactose intolerance has kept me out of touch with said game. The doughnut giant’s new offering, however—Original Glazed Soft Serve doughnut-flavored ice cream that you can mix actual doughnut pieces into, served in a waffle cone made of doughnut batter—inspired me to embark on an ice cream quest. Does Krispy Kreme’s dessert stand a chance against the legendary Wendy’s Frosty, or even McDonalds’ luxurious soft serve? I had more questions than answers, so I popped some Lactaid and was on my way to find out.
My first stop was McDonald’s. Full disclosure: I rarely make it to McDonald’s these days, and when I do, it’s for the Hot Mustard sauce. As a stoner teen, I used to frequent McDonald’s for its cheap, magical hot fudge sundae. Employees would pile on the chopped nuts for me if I asked nicely.
Sadly, just like the McDLT, the flavor I remembered so fondly is but a distant memory. The hot fudge on my sundae was cloyingly sweet and not warm, but it was good enough. The ice cream itself was thin and had the faintest artificial vanilla flavor, enough to say it was vanilla ice cream but not enough to prove it. It tasted like sugary, half-frozen milk water.
Next stop: Wendy’s. This time around I brought two friends with me from the UK, Josh and Alice. They had never even heard of a Frosty, so I was guaranteed no nostalgic bias in their feedback. I got both a chocolate and the new strawberry Frosty. Alice, a brunette, found a long blonde hair in hers. Naturally, she was repulsed and politely bowed out of this Frosty opinion party.
Josh rather enjoyed the chocolate Frosty, noting that it tasted like a real milk-chocolate bar that was melted, mixed with vanilla ice cream, then refrozen. It was still as velvety smooth as it’s always been. The strawberry one tasted exactly like that: artificial strawberry flavor. It reminded me of those flavor factories that billow out fruity aromas around the New Jersey turnpike. Josh said it tasted like CALPOL, the children’s fever and pain suppressant.
Now that I had a baseline for what fast food ice cream is working with, I took a few more bumps of Lactaid and set off to Krispy Kreme.
The first doughnut shop I went to seemingly had just taken its ice cream machine out of the box. It looked like when parents let their kids build their own Christmas gifts: parts strewn all over, a kid with big crocodile tears of frustration and the realization that they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
I then went to a second location, which had a wait. The obviously confused employee told me that it would take 45 minutes to let the ice cream pasteurize. My patience was wearing thin at this point. As I was getting ready to walk out of there, I was called back by the manager, who had a most wonderful looking waffle cone creation in his hand. He presented me with the Chocolate Iced Cone and Strawberry Iced Sprinkled Cone. Any annoyance I had disappeared as quickly as the cones themselves.
This ice cream is rich and smooth, and tastes like it came from a cow rather than a lab. Each cone was drizzled with a shell topping and dehydrated Original Glazed Donut sprinkles (insert “mind blown” emoji here). Before I could even finish the cones, the manager presented me with a Lemon Filled Shake—because, yes, the new menu incorporates the soft serve into a line of milkshakes, too, and this one swirls in the lemon filling from a Krispy Kreme doughnut. It was a bit sweeter than the two soft serve cones, but the lemon flavor wasn’t bad. It didn’t taste as artificial as the dreaded Wendy’s strawberry Frosty.
They say you can never go home again, and that’s a pretty accurate summary of my McDonald’s sundae experience. Wendy’s classic chocolate Frosty was as good as the brand’s social media game, so kudos to Wendy’s. As for Krispy Kreme, if I ever want to punish my body again, I would gladly do it here, just to enjoy all this dairy deliciousness. It’s not often that a chain restaurant knocks it out of the ballpark its first time up to bat, but Krispy Kreme has done exactly that, raising the bar for fast food ice cream nationwide.
Krispy Kreme will be rolling out its new ice cream program in two waves. The first wave just hit and is in 10 markets. See if any locations are near you.
Sadly, the Lactaid wasn’t quite bulletproof in the face of all these cups and cones full of frozen dairy, so I’m heading back into ice cream retirement. I will take with me some fond memories, though.