In the foodie world, ice cream always seems to get short shrift. While crème brûlée, tiramisu and bread pudding have become virtually de rigueur on high-end dessert menus, ice cream hardly even gets called up for pie-topping duty anymore. In fact, ice cream's sole remaining vehicle for fame may well be the ice cream truck.
What is the ice cream man proffering to folks these days? Does it live up to the cool, sweet memories of our youth? To find out, the Riverfront Times convened a panel of experts (including a chef, a food critic, a kid and two potheads) at JaBoni's Bistro and placed before them a silver tray piled high with icy goodness.
Rose Martelli, RFT restaurant critic
Ramon Cuffie, executive chef, JaBoni's
"Chas" and "Floyd," two local stoners
"Mike," an RFT staff writer
"Tom," an RFT editor
Annabel, a six-year-old
The products (unless noted, the frozen treats are made by Blue Bunny):
DORA THE EXPLORER BAR (Popsicle)
Chas: Can't explain the flavor at all -- this must be what Dora actually tastes like.
Rose: The absolute worst. Tastes like frozen hideousness, and the colors are drab and no fun.
Tom: From the look of it, you expect something chocolate or caramel. Then you wind up with something that tastes vaguely fruity.
Mike: Looks like three shades of turd.
MALT CRUNCH BOMB POP
Floyd: Like the little malt cups I used to get at the dairy with my grandfather.
Chas: Too malty and freezer-burned.
Rose: Surprisingly good, like frozen Whoppers.
Mike: If it's not Scottish, it's crap! And this isn't Scottish!
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS BAR (Popsicle)
Chas: Looks terrifying, tastes like bubble gum and lemon paste.
Mike: A triumph of citrus flavor, like a frozen Starburst.
EXTRA SOUR TEAR JERKERS
Ramon: Tastes like SweeTarts, for what that's worth.
Chas: Makes mouth angry and unfulfilled.
Rose: So sour, it makes me shudder more than a shot of tequila.
Floyd: Kind of like having acid-reflux disease.
BIG DIPPER ICE CREAM CONE COOKIES 'N CREAM
Ramon: The crisp cone is very good, but there should be a warning on the package: "Once removed from the freezer, you have one minute to eat."
Chas: Better than gay sex!
Rose: Cone keeps its heft and shape, and I love that the bottom is lined with chocolate inside -- it's both practical and delicious.
Mike: Looks like a Chia Pet but tastes damn-tastic, as all things Oreo do.
TAZ FUDGE BAR
Floyd: Tastes like chemical foam on a stick.
Rose: Soylent chocolate.
WATERMELON BOMB POP
Floyd: Reminds me of watermelon Bubble Yum -- after chewing it for three days.
Rose: Is there window-washing fluid in this?
Annabel: This one is good. It turns blue.
SUPER FREEZE STRAWBERRY
Floyd: Tastes like water and strawberry yogurt.
Rose: If this were a dietary frozen treat, I'd say it's pretty good.
Tom: Not bad, kind of like sorbet.
Floyd: Light, fruit-punch flavor, but nasty texture, like drinking heavy cream.
Mike: A mysteriously textured concoction. Is it pudding? Ice cream? Ice pop? Who cares -- the name is sensational!
Floyd: The best of the pack.
Ramon: Cookie portion was tasty, but ice cream was airy and flavorless.
Mike: Not fancy, just fabulous. A perennial standout in the ice cream family.
Tom: An all-around excellent ice cream sandwich.
HYPER STRIPE (Good Humor)
Floyd: Tastes like cotton candy -- no definitive flavor, just sweet and good.
Mike: In the war on heat terror, it's the bomb.
WILD CHERRY SNOW CONE
Floyd: The watered-down money maker. You keep eating the ice ball hoping for some juice. All you wind up with is brain freeze and a broken heart.
Chas: Tastes like leftover church-function Kool-Aid placed in the freezer by mistake. My least favorite.
Rose: I like this. When you're dying from heat, lots of crushed ice tastes better than lots of corn syrup. And it lasts for, like, two hours.
Mike: Shaved ice is the special-ed of frozen treats. If I wanted something this basic, I'd make Tang ice cubes.
BIG DIPPER ICE CREAM CONE STRAWBERRY BURST
Ramon: The creamiest of all the ice cream products, and the only one I want to actually finish. The Cadillac.
Chas: Fucking great! Real fucking strawberry taste! Fuck yeah!
Tom: Surprisingly refreshing.
BUZZ BOMB POP
Chas: Fresh and fruity and named after my favorite Toy Story character! Yum!
Rose: Compared to some of the other fruit treats, tastes a bit more like fruit and a bit less like chemicals.
Annabel: If you keep licking it, it turns white!
BIG VANILLA ICE CREAM SANDWICH
Chas: Big yum! Classic sandwich taste.
Rose: French vanilla ice cream inside. Love it.
ORIGINAL BOMB POP
Chas: Still the biggest, baddest, most rock-and-roll popsicle in the game!
Rose: I remember these being icy, not sherbet-y. Therefore, a bit disappointing.
Mike: Blue Bunny committed sacrilege against a timeless classic by making it soft instead of hard. Lifeless and blasphemous; a travesty.