Chips and dip: classic appetizer, great communal party food, excellent finger-friendly snack. Well, Baskin-Robbins is hoping that the familiar format makes for a winning dessert, too. Earlier this month, the chain rolled out its new Waffle Chip Dippers: vanilla soft-serve ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with M&M's and Snickers pieces, then served with an accompaniment of waffle-cone and brownie-batter dipping chips.
My first-blush reaction: Is a spoonless sundae necessary? Someone thinks so; Baskin-Robbins actually commissioned an independent survey in their quest for new menu ideas, and 19% of respondents chose chips and dip as the savory dish they most wanted to see re-created as a dessert. (No word on why they didn't opt to re-invent the survey's top vote-getter, pizza, instead.)
The Waffle Chip Dippers I got on a recent visit ($3.00) looked similar to the official PR photo, I guess, although the ice cream was already more than a tad soupy by the time I sat down. (There seemed to be some time-consuming difficulty in finding enough non-broken chip pieces to add to the order.) I also found my real-life version dressed with less chocolate syrup and candy than the full-color poster hanging next to the register. Not cool. I probably wouldn't have missed a few M&M's, but when you start chintzing me on Snickers, I start docking points.
But it's the chips that are supposed to set this desserpetizer (I call dibs on that as a new word) apart. You get six triangular hand-cut chips: a trio of standard waffle cone chips and a matching set made from brownie batter. But they're not truly a matching set. Upon closer inspection, my brownie chips were much smaller than the waffle versions.
With normal nachos, the chips are often the make-or-break element (pun intended). And brittle chips that shatter under the weight of a healthy scoop are particularly heartbreaking. While only half of my chips broke as I tried to scoop up my soft serve, it was every single one of the waffle chips. The soft serve is simply too thick and dense for serious dipping; any reasonably-sized dip causes immediate breakage... unless you wait for late-stage meltage.
The brownie chips didn't break... but only because they're too pliable to do so. Scoop up a nice dollop of ice cream and you can literally watch the chip bend and droop under the weight until the chip is completely curled under.
As for taste, those brownie chips were a little weird. I found them to be... chewy. Unlike the waffle chips that crunch like a legit chip, the brownie chips require some tugging and pulling as you bite through. I suppose the consistency is actually somewhat consistent with that of a brownie... but knowing it's supposed to be "a chip," it's hard to not draw mental comparisons to a stale tortilla.
In the end, the Baskin-Robbins Waffle Chip Dippers weren't bad. I mean, it's ice cream, cone pieces, and (at least a little) candy. They're not reinventing the wheel here, and apart from the brownie chips, there's no new territory as far as taste goes. This is about presentation and packaging. So I guess I just don't get the point. To me, chips and dip are a pre-meal nosh, not the meal itself. And there just isn't enough here to leave me feeling satisfied the way an actual cone or sundae would. There's not really enough to make this a shareable dessert, either.
I found myself frustrated with not being able to really scoop up the soft serve, thanks to either breaking or bending chips—ultimately wishing for something less cutesy and gimmicky and more substantial and decadent. And unlike at my favorite Mexican dive, when I ran out of chips, I couldn't just ask for more to rescue the last of the "dip;" I had to get a spoon anyway.
Maybe Baskin-Robbins should have tried that pizza thing after all.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT and pizzas for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.