Saturday, December 21, 2019

Dollar Tree Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Dollar Tree)

Far better than you'd expect, though not without its flaws.
Dollar Tree has, at least as far as I can remember, carried various cartons of “frozen dairy desserts” in their freezers, which are basically cheap versions of actual ice cream. Basically, what makes an item a “frozen dairy dessert” versus an actual ice cream comes down to hitting certain government-mandated criteria, such as consisting of at least 10% dairy milkfat. Any product that doesn't hit the criteria—even though it may look a lot like ice cream—must carry the ominous “frozen dairy dessert” designation, a sign that it falls short of the FDA's notoriously high standards (can you taste the sarcasm?). I'm not a snob when it comes to many things, but I guess ice cream is one of them, because I won't (willingly or knowingly) buy anything that can't refer to itself as "ice cream".

Imagine my surprise when I saw Dollar Tree was starting to carry some actual ice cream in their freezers! (Apparently, some stores started carrying them late last year; I swear we are the last to get everything here.) The first time I noticed them, which was in early November, all they had was vanilla and butter pecan, so I took a hard pass. This time, though, I noticed a new flavor had creeped its way in: mint chocolate chip. Ever the skeptic, yet incredibly excited at the same time, I threw the unsuspecting pint in my cart and took it home to face the judgment of both my wife and I.

There could definitely be more chocolate chips in here... (apologies for the Christmas tree lighting)
Things took a surprising turn for the positive the moment we opened the carton...and noticed that it was, in fact, the green kind of mint ice cream! Although many will no doubt frown on that—and I'm sure it's made with the addition of artificial colors and/or flavors—it's a nostalgic thing for both my wife and I, who grew up on the green stuff, a time before food had to be all politically correct and shit. Passing the visual inspection was one thing, but I was sure it would fail the next step: taste. Especially when it was my incredibly strict (on ice cream) wife who went in for the first bite; once her face showed a look of shock, followed immediately by satisfaction, I knew what that meant: I needn't be nervous to take my first bite.

My own taste analysis, which followed mere seconds later, certainly confirmed what my wife tasted: this ice cream is legit. It has a nice mint flavor (pretty artificial, but strong and convincing nonetheless) paired up with the occasional chocolate chip, which do manage to taste like pretty much any other ice cream chocolate chip, from any brand. There's definitely not as much chocolate as I would like (and as many would expect), but there's a decent enough amount spread throughout that you won't have to go more than a bite or two without one. And honestly, the mint is delicious enough that it can carry you to the next chocolatey morsel without any sadness whatsoever.

We both did detect a slight weirdness in the finish—I can't tell if it was our ice cream snobbery coming out in the form of imagined flaws, or legit complaints—but it manifested itself in different ways: she thought there was a minorly bizarre aftertaste, while I thought the flavor just kind of dissipated toward the end, kind of like how many cheap candles are loaded with scent in the store to make you think you're getting a strong-smelling candle, but smell weak once you start burning them. Either way, those minor complaints completely disappeared the farther into the pint that I got, making this a delicious treat for the price, and one I wouldn't hesitate to grab again.

Value is pretty strong, when compared to other pints, which is about the only way to get an "apples to apples" comparison. Every brand raises the per oz. price on pints to a sometimes disgusting degree, in order to "lure" you into buying the larger cartons to "save money". So of course, even at a dollar, buying four of these (which is equal to a half-gallon carton), would cost you $4, which is about the price of a mid-tier ice cream brand on sale--and let's face it, almost all of those are going to taste a bit better than this one.

But, the "pint" certainly has its merits: they're more "portable", more limiting to the health-conscience, and take up less freezer space which, let's be real here, somehow always seems to be an issue, at least at our house. And where else can you consistently get pints for $1, without having to clip coupons, or wait for store sales? I'd easily pick this up again, and am also hoping they might be able to add even more flavor varieties to their collection (cookies n' cream would be ideal, if anyone out there is listening...)

Let's just hope this isn't one of the many products that seem to disappear from "the Tree" immediately after making its first appearance...

Overall: 7.5/10. I wouldn't call it “premium”, but factoring in the price, this is a surprisingly good ice cream. The mint flavor is strong, and while the chocolate chips are a little more sparse than I would like, they taste like the chocolate chips in just about every other brand. Valuewise, where else can you consistently find pints of ice cream for a buck? Sure, some store brands go on the occasional sale, but this is great in that you don't have to clip coupons, or wait for a certain time to buy, and that makes it an enticing backup option, if nothing else. One of the more shockingly good food buys from DT I've had in quite a while.


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review. I'll have to try it out. I'm finishing up a pint of this brand in the Butter Pecan. I'd rate it the same. Tasty ice cream, not great, but certainly does the trick.

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    1. Glad you agree! I'm honestly just happy it's edible, haha.

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