Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bars

The Preface
Last year Jen and I went to Thailand. The last night of our trip we sat on the beautiful beach at Ko Phi Phi, reminiscing about our trip and all we had done and seen, all while eating an amazingly delicious chocolate covered ice cream bar called Magnum. The evening was a bit somber, knowing that the next morning we'd be leaving the country, the adventure and our friends. And after licking that wooden stick clean of all remaining chocolate, we had one more thing depressing us: knowing that Magnum bars aren't sold in the U.S. and this would be our last one.

Flash forward six months, when one evening Jen and I were watching an NBA playoff game and a commercial came on, saying "Magnum, now, for the first time in America". We had to have one. But we wanted to know, was it really that great? Or were we just jaded by that moment in Thailand where everything seemed so perfect? Could it possibly live up to our memories? Was it even as good as the ice cream bars we've always been able to get here in the U.S? So that we'd know for sure, we invited our friends over for a taste test to determine:

Jami testing, Squire documenting, Jen wiping chocolate off her chin

The Competitors
Kirkland (Costco food-court)

The Participants

The Methodology
We wanted to make the competition as comparable as possible, so we got just the basic flavor of each brand (no caramel or nuts, etc). Each couple split one of each bar and as each was sampled, we scored each one on a scale from 1 to 10 based on three criteria: Chocolatyness, Vanillainess, and Overallness. As we tried each one, we first bit off just the chocolate and scored it, then just the ice cream, and then finished with a bite of both the chocolate and ice cream together to give the overall score. 

The Results
We wrote down our scores and general impressions for each bar in each of the categories, then averaged the scores and examined the results. 

Dove - Chocolate score: 8.75; Vanilla score: 5.50; Overall score: 7.50
This had the best chocolate out of all of them. It was thick and sweet and very good. The ice cream, however, was disappointing. It was a bit too light and fluffy and the flavor was nothing special. It's really a shame, because with better ice cream, this could have been the winner. Dove chocolates have cute little sayings printed on the inside of the foil wrappers, and the bars follow suit, printing them on the wooden stick. Cost: $4 for three bars.

Magnum - Chocolate score: 7.50; Vanilla score: 8.75; Overall score: 8.00
While it's still considered a milk chocolate, it's a bit darker than the others, but it is still very sweet (and not bitter as real dark chocolate can be). The vanilla is very dense and thick and has a very nice real vanilla flavor. It didn't melt too fast, and wasn't messy. Very good bar, and it has a nice "M" stamped into the chocolate.  Cost: $4 for three bars.

Häagen-Dazs - Chocolate score: 7.75; Vanilla score: 9.50; Overall score: 8.50
Very good, thick chocolate. This had the best ice cream out of all of them. It was thick and dense and didn't melt too quickly. Like the Magnum, the vanilla flavor was definitely not artificial, and it was very, very good. The bar was very pretty; it was dipped in chocolate and then drizzled with more chocolate. It also had a great aftertaste. Cost: $4 for three bars.

Klondike - Chocolate score: 6.50; Vanilla score: 4.00; Overall score: 5.25
Wow. Klondike doesn't even deserve to be in the same freezer as the rest of these bars. It was really terrible. The package says that it has a "thick chocolatey shell" which is an absolute lie. The shell was paper thin and tasted more like toffee than chocolate. The ice cream was light and fluffy and melted very, very quickly. This was an especially big problem because it's the only bar that wasn't on a stick, so eating it was difficult, and in the end, neither couple even bothered finishing the bar and we ended up with a melted, disappointing mess. The reason the ice cream was so light and fluffy is because it was low-fat, but in fact, the Klondike had just as many calories as the Dove and only 30 fewer calories than the Magnum and Häagen-Dazs. Cost: $4 for six bars.

Kirkland - Chocolate score: 6.75; Vanilla score: 7.00; Overall score: 6.50 
Jen and Jami and Squire all thought that this was a pretty good bar, but I was an outlier and really didn't like it at all. I felt like the chocolate tasted cheap and generic (like it could have been a melted down Hershey's bar). Jami, however, loved the chocolate and gave it a 9. As for the vanilla, it nobody thought it was all that special, mainly because you could taste that it was definitely artificial flavoring. I seem to be the only one extremely unhappy with the bar, as I gave it an overall score of only 5, while the others each gave it a modest 7. Cost: $1.50 for one bar.

Therefore, we conclude the best chocolate covered ice cream bar is:

With great ice cream and very good chocolate, the Häagen-Dazs is an amazing bar. Jen and I both gave it an overall score of 8, while Jami and Squire both gave it a 9. 

Looking at the scores, though, you'll notice the Magnum very close behind. Turns out Jami and Squire aren't big dark chocolate fans, giving the bar an overall score of 8 and 6, respectively, thus lowering the overall score. Jen and I, on the other hand, love dark chocolate, and we both gave it a overall 9. We wondered if perhaps it's because of so many American's dislike of darker chocolate that Magnum bars took so long to get here (Magnum has been in other countries since 1987). 

So if you're a fan of darker chocolate, the Magnum might be for you (though Häagen-Dazs also has a dark chocolate bar that we're gonna have to try). We'd also love to get a bar that married the Dove chocolate with the Häagen-Dazs ice cream. That would be perfection. 

We hope this helps the next time you're standing on the ice cream asile, wondering which chocolate covered ice cream bar to get. And the next time you're watching TV and you see a Klondike commercial asking "What would you do-oo-oo for a Klondike bar?", remember: nothing.