Ok, let’s be honest, it’s not exactly ice cream. Not in a traditional, super creamy, super indulgent, super delicious sort of way. Then again, anyone who expects to get all that creamy, fatty goodness for only 250 calories per pint is obviously living in an alternate universe.
Although Halo Top has been out for a lot longer than I realized (2012), it’s only been in the last year or so that it has skyrocketed to popularity. According to Wikipedia, in July of 2016, it became the best selling ice cream in supermarkets, even beating out Ben & Jerry’s, which I’ll admit I found hard to believe. While I like Halo Top, if given the choice, I would reach for Ben & Jerry’s over it every single time.
Once you get passed the fact that Halo Top is not going to taste like its full fat cousins, it’s actually pretty good. Especially considering that an entire pint ranges from about 240-360 calories. Considering that the same calorie content for Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Daz or most other ice creams is only about 1/4 of a pint, it suddenly explains the appeal.
I’ve only tried five flavors of Halo Top so far and just like with real ice cream, I’ve had varying degrees of happiness with them. My absolute favorite flavor so far has been the oatmeal cookie one. It legitimately tastes like a frozen oatmeal cookie. It reminds me a bit of the now defunct Dreamery Ice Cream flavor I used to love called Grandma’s Cookie Jar. It had several different bits of cookie dough in it, but my favorite were the bits of oatmeal raisin cookie dough. This particular pint of Halo Top has only 280 calories. I love the sweet oatiness of it, however, I will admit that while the bits of oats mixed in the ice cream definitely give it an authenticity, I’m not a fan of the texture of them. They taste like uncooked oats. There may not be enough of them to make the ice cream chewy, but they do give it a fibrous texture that I wish it didn’t have. Still the taste and low calorie count are enough for me to overlook it.
The chocolate almond ice cream reminds me of a Wendy’s Frosty, especially if you let it get just a tad bit melty. It’s not as rich and creamy as a Frosty. The texture is also not quite right for one, but it has that same chocolatey flavor of one. Plus, only 320 calories for the entire pint, which is less than one large Frosty.
Birthday cake is good, but really, really sweet. It reminds me a bit more of birthday cake frosting than of the actual cake. When I first tried it, I only ate a few bites and thought I might give it to my kids to finish off. They are far less picky about anything sweet and are always just as happy with a Hershey bar as they are gourmet truffles, so whenever I come across a type of chocolate (or ice cream) I don’t like, I pawn it off on them and they are thrilled. Before I got to give it to them, I found myself craving something sweet, so I tried it again. This time I found it more palatable. Still, there is no way I could eat an entire pint of it the way I could the oatmeal cookie version. I ended up breaking this one (and chocolate almond) into thirds. If you are a fan of the overly sweet vanilla cake frosting grocery store bakeries put on top of their cakes (the type that is slightly grainy), this is probably a flavor that you’ll love.
Chocolate chip cookie dough had a lot more vanilla and a lot less bits of actual cookie dough in it, which was a bit of a let down. But again, considering the entire pint only has 360 calories in it, there would have to be less cookie dough. It actually tastes fairly similar to it’s fattier cousins, but it’s not as creamy and the sweetness it has tastes just a bit more artificial.
The only flavor I absolutely despised, and this is not a term I use lightly, was the mint chocolate chip. This was such a HUGE upset to me as mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my absolute joys in life. I even love mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt. From my earliest experiences of York Peppermint patties, to my absolute adoration of Andes mints to my local Baskin Robbins, mint chocolate chip is always a go to for me. This one though…I got through three bites and had to stop. I put it away and hoped against hope that I would grow to like it as I had birthday cake. But alas, it was not to be. The mint in his was so overpowering that it felt like I was drinking straight peppermint oil. It actually reminded me of the peppermint oil one of my students used to use every day in class to help calm her down and keep her from having panic attacks. It did not seem like a mint that was meant to be eaten, but rather one that should be used as part of a soothing massage. I didn’t even give it to my kids because it was so artificial tasting and so gross.
Despite that bad experience, I know that since I have rededicated myself to eating healthier and exercising more, I will be back to grabbing pints of Halo Top to help satisfy my sweet tooth. There are still several varieties I’d like to try. My hope is that mint chocolate chip will be a fluke.