Taste Test: Dreyer's (and Edy's) Holiday Ice Cream Flavors
As a kid, I knew the Christmas season was nearing when my mother came home with Dreyer's peppermint ice cream. Mom wasn't a big sweets person—she'd have the occasional square of chocolate, and we were allowed Oreos once in awhile; ice cream–buying, on the other hand, was not a habit of hers. But when she saw peppermint ice cream, she'd go a little crazy, buying 2 or 3 cartons just in case the grocery store sold out later in the season.
Dreyer's brings back the peppermint every year, along with two other flavors, eggnog and pumpkin. These days, they also market all of those flavors in a lower-calorie "Slow-Churned" version. We tried out all 6 flavors for your holiday ice cream needs.
(Note: Those in Western parts of the country will know this ice cream brand as Dreyer's; further East, it's sold as Edy's. But it's the same ice cream, just called Edy's out east so that it's not confused with Breyer's, a totally different ice cream brand. Although that sort of makes it more confusing, not less.)
My childhood enthusiasm was totally justified: the peppermint flavor was everyone's favorite of the three. It tastes like a candy cane in a really great way, with a straightforward, not-too-sweet creamy base. The little chunks of candy are nicely integrated, but the peppermint flavor permeates the ice cream as well; it's not just candy bits in a sea of vanilla.
The pumpkin flavor, as is true of so many pumpkin products, tastes far more of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg than anything recognizably pumpkin. It was a little sweet to my taste, but I'd still happily eat a scoop atop a slice of pie, say. I can see it integrating with other dessert elements more easily than the eggnog. That one tastes like a particularly intense store-bought eggnog version, sweet and spicy and eggy, powerful in all three.
The difference between the lower-fat, "Slow Churned" variety and the normal kind is entirely one of texture, not flavor. In terms of taste, they're essentially identical. The regular ice creams are super-smooth and easy-melting on the tongue, creamy but not particularly rich; quite good for store-bought ice cream. "Slow Churned" is lighter and also gummier; you can tell that there are stabilizers doing some work to keep this thing intact. Whether that's worth the tradeoff for half the fat and 1/3 fewer calories is your call. We definitely prefer the normal version, texturally, but the Slow Churned does a lot better than plenty of lower-fat ice creams out there.
Any Dreyer's/Edy's fans out there? Have you tried the holiday flavors?