Companies and Brands

8 Worst Ice Cream Brands in America

Woman buying bucket of strawberry ice cream from the fridge in the supermarket
Vladeep / Shutterstock.com

As winter begins to wane, most of us are anticipating the warmer weather that will soon arrive. One of the best parts of the warmer seasons is the chance to cool off with some delicious ice cream.

Everyone has their favorite flavor of ice cream. Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the United States. Chocolate, cookies and cream, strawberry, and chocolate chip round out the top five.

Along with flavors, ice cream enthusiasts all have their favorite brands of store-bought ice cream. However, we wanted to find the brands at the other end of the spectrum. Which ice cream brands just don’t stack up against their competitors?

To answer that question, 24/7 Wall St. consulted eight different food websites, blogs, and vlogs. Ice cream preference is highly subjective, so we used an aggregate scoring system to compile this list of ice cream brands that received unfavorable reviews from our sources.

While this story is focused on the “worst ice cream brands in America,” most Americans agree that even bad ice cream is still kind of good. It is ice cream, after all! So, will you be repulsed, repelled, or revolted by the ice cream brands on this list? That is highly doubtful. But can you also find higher-quality ice cream brands than these? Most certainly.

As we sought out ice cream brands to avoid, we also found some very highly rated brands among our reviewers. Some of the very best ice cream brands include Tillamook, Häagen-Dazs, Blue Bell, and Ben & Jerry’s. We’re pretty sure the old saying, “I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.” was written about these brands.

The brands featured in the following list simply can’t compete with these top-tier ice creams. The brands are ranked from best ice creams (relatively speaking) to the brands that received the lowest ratings from the sources we consulted. Prices may vary by store and location.

8. Blue Bunny

Blue Bunny vanilla bean ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Blue Bunny vanilla bean ice cream
  • Expected Price: $4.48
  • Size: 1.5 quarts

Blue Bunny Review

Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor and Museum
Source: Peter K. / Wikimedia Commons
There is a Blue Bunny ice cream parlor and museum in Le Mars, Iowa.

Blue Bunny is a popular ice cream brand, which isn’t all that surprising. This ice cream is completely inoffensive. Just look at the ingredients label. For example, the vanilla bean flavor contains only seven ingredients, none of which are artificial. That certainly cannot be said of some ice cream brands further down this list.

So why did Blue Bunny land on this list, at all? Mainly because, while it is not bad, it is also not great. It is very…okay. The ice cream was described as lacking flavor by some of our reviewers. It has kind of a sweet blandness. However, there is also a reason it is ranked at  #8 and not #1. The quality drops steadily as we progress toward the #1 ice cream brand to avoid.

So, if you purchase Blue Bunny for a gathering of friends and family, no one will take issue with it. On the contrary, they’ll happily eat it up. But they also won’t be “wowed” by it in any way.

7. Dreyer’s/Edy’s

Dryer's ice cream
Source: Hiqwm Wreop Uis / Wikimedia Commons
Dryer’s ice cream
  • Expected Price: $5.99
  • Size: 1.5 quarts

Dreyer’s/Edy’s Review

Edy's ice cream
Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News via Getty Images
Edy’s ice cream

This ice cream is marketed under the Dryer’s name in Texas and states west of the Rocky Mountains. In the rest of the U.S., it is sold under the Edy’s brand. The ice cream is the same under either name, though.

This ice cream has been around since the late 1920s, so your family has likely been familiar with it for generations. And, if you have personally partaken of a scoop or two of Dryer’s/Edy’s, you know that it is adequate ice cream. Like Blue Bunny, there is nothing that is necessarily off-putting about it. At the same time, though, there is also nothing remarkable about it.

Dryer’s/Edy’s lacks the creaminess of really great ice cream. One reviewer noted that, depending on the flavor, hints of an artificial taste can also come through. This is why we ranked it behind Blue Bunny.

6. Breyers

Bryers Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Bryers Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream
  • Expected Price: $4.67
  • Size: 1.5 quarts

Breyers Review

Bryers Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.

Bryers is difficult to rank given the disparity of reviews for its different flavors. Some Bryers offerings, such as the chocolate pretzel swirl, received high marks from some of our critics. However, other Bryers ice cream flavors aren’t even ice cream.

The USDA website states that “by federal law, ice cream must contain at least 10% milkfat, before the addition of bulky ingredients, and must weigh a minimum of 4.5 pounds to the gallon.” If a product does not meet these requirements, it cannot be labeled as ice cream. Some of Bryers’ products are labeled as “frozen dairy desserts” because they cannot legally be called “ice cream.”

It’s more than labeling, though. This difference comes through in the taste and texture of the product. Some critics noted that it doesn’t freeze as well as higher-quality brands. One reviewer said the product has a texture more like whipped cream than ice cream.

5. Friendly’s

Friendly's Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Source: Famartin / Wikimedia Commons
Friendly’s mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • Expected Price: $5.69
  • Size: 1.5 quarts

Friendly’s Review

Friendly's restaurant
Source: Greg Gjerdingen from Willmar, USA / Wikimedia Commons
The ice cream at Friendly’s restaurants is markedly better than the brand’s grocery store products.

This is a more regional brand. Friendly’s restaurants are found in 11 states, all of which are on the East Coast. However, the chain’s ice cream sundaes are so popular that it began selling its ice cream in grocery stores well beyond its East Coast roots.

The packaged ice cream does not measure up to the ice cream that is sold in Friendly’s restaurants, though. One reviewer noted that Friendly’s vanilla ice cream doesn’t even contain any vanilla (unless it is hidden in the “natural flavors” listed on the ingredients label). The ice cream is rather bland. It also has a strange texture, thanks to the stabilizers that are added to keep the ice cream from melting.

4. Halo Top

Halo Top ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Halo Top ice cream
  • Expected Price: $4.48
  • Size: One pint

Halo Top Review

Halo Top Chocolate Caramel Brownie ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Halo Top has far fewer calories than traditional ice cream.

Admittedly, including Halo Top on this list isn’t altogether fair. It is a low-calorie ice cream designed for consumers who have a sweet tooth but want to avoid the excess fat and calories in traditional ice cream. One pint of Halo Top only contains around 280 to 380 calories, depending on the flavor. It also contains an impressive amount of protein, with some flavors boasting upwards of 24 grams of protein per pint.

Halo Top contains some traditional ice cream ingredients such as milk (it’s skim milk, but it’s still milk), sugar, and cream. But it dramatically cuts calories by also using erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and stevia to sweeten the product. Some people experience digestive issues if they consume too much of these sweeteners. Others cannot tolerate them even in small doses.

It is not surprising that cutting the calories and fat in ice cream is going to come with some trade-offs. One immediate such trade-off that you will notice with Halo Top is the texture. The best ice creams are creamy and smooth. Halo Top’s texture was described as “icy,” “watery,” and “grainy” in some of the reviews we consulted. One particularly harsh critic said this product is “super expensive” considering that it is “essentially frozen flavored water.”

If you’re counting calories or looking for a high-protein indulgence, then Halo Top could fit the bill. But if you’re looking for high-quality ice cream, you’ll want to direct your search elsewhere.

3. Baskin Robbins

Baskin Robbins logo
Source: Baskin-Robbins / Wikimedia Commons
Baskin Robbins logo
  • Expected Price: $3.00
  • Size: 14 fl oz

Baskin Robbins Review

Baskin Robbins shop
Source: SweetBabeeJay / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
The ice cream at Baskin Robbins ice cream parlors is much better than what is stocked in your grocer’s freezer section.

Who among us doesn’t have memories of stopping at a Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor for a sweet treat on a hot summer day? This brand is packed with nostalgia. Sadly, though, it is not packed with yummy flavor. Not the ice cream that is sold in grocery stores, anyway.

The texture of store-bought Baskin Robbins ice cream was described as “weird” by one reviewer. This critic also noted a “weird aftertaste.” They went on to point out that the vanilla variety was especially disappointing. For a brand that has developed over 1,300 ice cream flavors in its history, vanilla ought to be a layup.

Multiple sources pointed out that the ice cream in your grocer’s freezer is different from what is sold in Baskin Robbins ice cream parlors. If you and the kids or grandkids want to swing by one of these parlors for a sweet treat, you should definitely do it. But if you approach the brand’s packaged ice cream with the same expectations, you’ll almost certainly be disappointed.

2. Kroger Deluxe

 
Kroger Deluxe Neapolitan ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Kroger Deluxe Neapolitan Ice Cream
  • Expected Price: $2.99
  • Size: 1.5 quarts

Kroger Deluxe Review

Kroger Deluxe artisan vanilla bean ice cream
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Kroger Deluxe artisan vanilla bean ice cream

Kroger is one of the largest grocery chains in the United States. The store’s generic brand covers everything from vegetables to chips to soda to, of course, ice cream. While many Kroger products meet or even exceed the quality of major brands, the store’s ice cream falls far short of the mark.

Our reviewers took exception to this brand’s “unnatural flavor.” It is also docked for being overly sweet. That’s not surprising, considering what we learn from the ingredients label. For example, three of the top five ingredients in the Kroger Deluxe Artisan Vanilla Bean are sugar syrup, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Vanilla bean doesn’t appear in the ingredients list until near the end, well behind various gums, mono- and diglycerides, and artificial flavors. Not surprisingly, the end result is an ice cream that tastes fake.

On the plus side, Kroger ice cream is quite a bit cheaper than the big-name brands. But, as they say, you get what you pay for.

1. Blue Ribbon Classics

Blue Ribbon Classics logo
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Blue Ribbon Classics logo
  • Expected Price: $7.68
  • Size: One Gallon

Blue Ribbon Classics Review

One blue award ribbon isolated on white
Source: New Africa / Shutterstock.com
Blue Ribbon Classics is certainly no blue ribbon winner.

When Grandma’s cherry pie took first place at the county fair, she received a blue ribbon. The blue ribbon is a universal sign of a winning product, which means that Blue Ribbon Classics ice cream is terribly misnamed. It was one of the lowest-reviewed ice creams in our survey, mainly because of its artificial taste and texture.

This is another brand that is sold in the ice cream aisle, but it is not actually ice cream. If you closely examine the fine print, you’ll see that it is actually labeled as a “frozen dairy dessert.”

This ice cream contains lots of artificial flavors and thickening agents. Some flavors also contain artificial colors such as Red 40 and Blue 1.

This “ice cream” certainly doesn’t earn a blue ribbon. It doesn’t even deserve a certificate of participation.

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