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 staffers 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 the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Breakfast Item, as voted by readers: Kevin Pang!
The topic of this week’s draft: ice cream toppings. A draft order was selected randomly, and the order shall be:
1. Kate Bernot
2. Kevin Pang
3. Allison Shoemaker
Kevin Pang: Boom. Let’s do this. Ice cream toppings. Happy summer. Once again, Kate, you have the first pick.
Kate Bernot: Alright, I feel ready for this one. My first-round pick goes to: hot fudge
KP: Well dang
Allison Shoemaker: Yeah, that seemed inevitable.
KB: It’s great on vanilla-based flavors, doubles down on chocolate-based flavors, also great with peanut butter and mint options.
AS: It’s possible, Kate, that you could pass on the next four rounds and still win.
KP: This is very tough, because as Allison suggested, an ice cream topping draft with hot fudge on is like having LeBron James available
Let’s see who was drafted #2 in LeBron’s year...oh great it’s Darko Milicic
(ahead of Carmelo, Bosh, Wade...)
KB: What will be the Darko Milicic of toppings?
KP: For my pick I’m going with a candy topping. There’s lots that would go great with ice cream, but for me the best textural option is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups pieces
Not a fan of hard-shell candies
AS: Yeah, that’s a great choice.
KP: There’s a creaminess to Reese’s that works delightfully with ice cream
KB: I will eat Reese’s PB in any form. Funnel that straight into my digestive tract.
KP: And an admission: I’m not even a big fan of Reese’s PB cups themselves, but I think it’s great broken off into pieces and added to ice cream.
This is fascinating and we should revisit it.
AS: Hot fudge is clearly the champion ice cream sauce, but it has a scrappy rival: Caramel sauce
Preferably salted, but I’m not picky
Sticky, buttery, warm, amazing on ice cream.
KB: The butteriness is really nice, agreed.
You just don’t see it often enough!
Or maybe it’s there and I’m just distracted by hot fudge
AS: Also great at adhering other less sticky toppings to the ice cream, so you don’t just get a ring of toppings in the bottom as they slide off.
One such topping: Sprinkles.
KB: (Jimmies, for those of you in certain geographies.)
AS: Ice cream can be so festive and nothing makes it feel moreso than sprinkles.
Except maybe a lit sparkler.
And while regular sprinkles are good, if you get really good ones, they’re amazing. Next-level.
KP: Do sprinkles add any flavor or is its role mainly for visual appeal?
AS: Melty even.
It depends on the sprinkle.
Four Brothers Chocolates in the Chicago suburbs makes the best sprinkles I’ve ever had in my life.
KB: Sometimes I like that they’re a small crunch, not like the big crunch of walnuts or M&Ms, but a small, soft crunch.
AS: But even when they’re mostly textural and visual, still great.
KB: But they can also be waxy and gross.
AS: Only if you overdo it!
KB: Very variable
AS: JUDICIOUS application.
This will be a theme with me throughout. I am staunchly light-toppings.
KP: I have an issue with sprinkles, mainly because I feel the flavor it imparts is sugar and I’m not a fan of that tiny hard crunch. But waffle cone pieces remedies that.
KB: Is that a topping you DIY with a waffle cone or do ice cream places offer that?
KP: I can’t always have ice cream scooped into a waffle cone, so I often enjoy shards of crispy waffle cones integrated into my ice cream. Also, it means I can experience waffle cone + ice cream immediately, and not after I make it through the initial scoop.
I’ve seen it as both. Though if I can get a waffle cone to serve as a cone, I’ll opt for that. But many of those froyo places offer waffle cone pieces.
KB: Hmmm, bringing froyo into the ice cream debate. JUDGES? They’ll allow it.
KP: May I remind the Russian judge that froyo and ice cream toppings overlap
KB: The Russian judge begrudgingly lets it stand.
KP: 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
AS: 6, often stale
KB: Okay, for my second-round pick, going with another texture/flavor double-punch: Oreo crumbles
KB: This is another surprisingly versatile topping: amazing on vanilla, great on PB and mint flavors, adds a little vanilla-cream note to chocolate-based flavors. Even on strawberry ice cream, it works!
For the record I’ve never willingly ordered strawberry ice cream.
AS: Love Oreo + Strawberry, you are wise.
Oh man, you have to try Jeni’s strawberry buttermilk.
KP: Wait a minute, Kate
You’ve never had strawberry ice cream straight up?
Not even scooped from a Neapolitan?
KB: Oh I have
I just wouldn’t specifically order it
My late Grandma Bernot was a huge fan of the Neapolitan carton, so someone always got stuck with the strawberry.
KP: Okay, quick Takeout Draft Within A Draft: Neapolitan flavors
AS: Vanilla, no question
If I could only have one ice cream flavor for the rest of my life, it would be vanilla.
KP: Chocolate, no question
Sad trombone strawberry for me...
KP: OK, Kate, you’ve got one more pick in the snake draft format
KB: Ah yes, back to the task at hand.
Sorry, allergy sufferers, but: Chopped walnuts
Great crunch, sophisticated nutty flavor (as opposed to peanut butter’s more confectionary appeal)
Also great across a range of flavors, wonderful on a sundae
KP: I’m gonna dive into the fruit subcategory and go for... bananas.
Strawberries would have been another great choice, but ultimately I landed on bananas because there’s a creaminess that’s pleasant with ice cream. Also, it’s the basis for banana splits, and it’s versatile with most ice cream flavors.
AS: Very good choice, snaked (heh) that one right out from under me
KP: How will you overcome this adversity, Allison?
AS: Well I’m going to stick with the fruit category and take from your reject pile: Strawberries are great on ice cream
A cherry on top is traditional but man, there are some unbearable marachino cheeries out there
A strawberry, however? Mmmmmmm
KB: Yeah, I’m with you on the cherry thing.
AS: Now is this a Luxardo sundae? Because then yes, cherries.
However, the fluorescent red things are a hard pass. Strawberries forever.
KB: Even with fancy cherries, you only get one.
And you kinda have to eat it first, or push it to the side? Logistics seem weird.
Okay, for my next pick, really debating whether I want to go sweet or salty here.
Let’s go with cereal.
I’m partial to Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Krispies, but Fruit Loops are great too, and plain old Rice Krispies.
And of course, Corn Flakes.
I definitely once had soft-serve topped with Captain Crunch and was surprised by how much I liked it.
But when does sogginess become a potential factor?
AS: In my experience, cereal stays crispy longer with ice cream
Also there’s rarely very much of it because the surface area is bigger as a topping.
It’s more like a coating.
KP: I don’t think we’ve even brought up the New England cult favorite: Grape-Nuts Ice Cream
AS: Oooh that’s new to me.
Will have to try.
KP: It’s everything you would love: Vanilla ice cream with Grape Nuts swirled in, then let set overnight so the cereal can soften slightly
AS: Mmmmmm that sounds amazing
KP: My favorite ice cream is Baskin-Robbins’ Mint Chocolate Chip, and specifically the one from BR. But I’ve recently discovered adding Andes Chocolate Mints into ice cream
One of the pleasures of Mint chocolate chip is having crunching those chocolate pieces between the molars
I don’t always have mint chocolate chip lying around, but usually there’s a bag of Andes in my household. So they make a great addition to ice cream.
AS: I learned something new about you just now. Andes on hand at all times?
You’re like a steakhouse
KB: Or a nice hotel
KP: That’s the nicest compliment anyone’s given to me: My home is like a steakhouse.
KB: Okay, my next pick is straight in the Nostalgia Zone: Magic Shell
I always get a soft-serve dip from DQ, and every now and then I want Magic Shell on a softer-textured classic ice cream
I was so sure no one else would grab that
KB: If I was going to ruin our relationship over anything, it was going to be Magic Shell.
AS: Or Coors
KP: Is there a specific flavor?
My wife is partial to cherry hard shell
KB: I like the regular chocolate, but I like chocolate an unreasonable amount as a flavor for most things.
And then for my following choice: Thin Mint cookie crumbles
KB: When you want some mint, but not actually mint-chocolate ice cream, they’ve got you.
KP: For my last pick, I’m reppin’ my Asianhood: Boba Bubbles
You know those poppable juice-filled bubbles in bubble tea
But in ice cream!
It’s more than just the flavor (I’m partial to mango), it’s the tactile sensation of those exploding juice balls.
KB: Huh, interesting. I think I could get down with that.
AS: Oh man, okay.
I was going to go with something tactile myself, but I think I need to stay on brand/give us a chance to link back to a story I really like, and go with alcohol.
I can choose a specific spirit if you want, but would gladly claim the whole liquor cabinet, if possible.
KP: Even with hot fudge off the board, our commentariat might award you the draft with that pick
KB: Honestly I’m just gonna give a golf clap here. Well done, Allison.
KP: I’m pretty much playing for third place here
AS: I almost went with gummy bears, which I have always liked kind of cold.
But whiskey over ice cream? Holy shit that’s good.
It’s good stuff.
KB: Will add: Kahlua.
AS: Yes, totally. Coffee liqueurs too.
Any of the fruity liqueurs you’d add to champagne too.
KB: Gotta go guys, it’s boozy ice cream o’clock.
AS: Thanks guys, let’s get drunk and lactose intolerant!
So who won this week? Please vote now!