Photo: Phil Roeder
The ice cream men of America serve up a lot of goods, but these are the best.
5. Strawberry Shortcake Bar
As a kid, any flavor that’s not chocolate or vanilla can be inherently considered “exotic.” Strawberry is every child’s first foray into the unknown. The Strawberry Shortcake bar in particular is like creme brûlée for children. It has flavor, it has pizzazz, and it also feels kind of oddly healthy. It’s what kids think rich adults eat, so it’s what they order when trying to prove to their crushes they’re mature class-acts who’ll one day drive Ferraris.
4. Chocolate Eclair
This is a well-earned treat, sporting three different layers of immaculate wonder for your tastebuds. It wasn’t always your go-to, but when you get it, that first bite feels earned. You stand with your hands on your hips, scouting the board and seeing your go-tos, your favorites, but then you let out a, “You know –,” and decide to play a wildcard by ordering it and feeling a little different that day; just a bit cooler, just a bit more unpredictable, and very satisfied.
The most universal treat in the ice cream man’s magical box, Drumsticks have never let anybody down. It’s the one thing on summer blocks all kids can agree on. At worst, you get a pleasant shrug if, for some reason, the most exciting items (all those smashed rainbow-colored treats) are out of stock. Drumsticks are a classic. They’re the Chuck Taylor All-Stars of dessert. Everyone gets it, even if it’s not all, or even most of the time.
It’s a masterful, sassy move; a mic drop on the dessert world. Before you order one you find yourself asking, “Would it be considered too much, too ostentatious, too ‘in your face?’” But then somebody decided doors were meant to be kicked in and the revolutionary item became a masterpiece standard. Now, it seems so foolish to have ever lived in a world where ice cream sandwiches weren’t napping luxurious between chocolate chip cookies.
1. Choco Taco
Long before hybrid foods became all the rage (e.g. cronuts, cake pops, ramen burgers, bacon-infused / wrapped / flavored everything else), there was one item in existence that dared to go the wild distance. The Choco Taco took two of mankind’s greatest inventions, the taco and ice cream, and put them together so seamlessly, it’s hard to imagine how Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation spent their youth before the Choco Taco’s glorious Reagan-era launch. Did they watch the moon landing and wonder, how do we have the technology for this but not an even split of dairy treat and cone when biting into dessert?
Honorable mention: Any character with bubble gum eyes
Like a gorgeous babe or strapping hunk, it looks amazing, sure, but you’ll always wind up heartbroken in the end. No matter how many times you’ve gone through this before, hoping it’ll turn out differently, those chewy eyes always taste like crap.