Update: We also tried the Star Crunch and Unicorn Cake flavors! Click here to read our review.
There aren’t many independently-owned companies with a brand as well-known and emotionally coveted as Little Debbie. Maybe it’s the vast and varied number of snack cake, donut, and bakery items. But I think Little Debbie has managed to package up some processed snack food magic in its little boxes, and when I heard it had collaborated to create Little Debbie-themed ice creams, my Cosmic-Brownie-loving heart did a flutter.
I realize there are a lot of nostalgic ties to Little Debbie treats. People have strong opinions about their favorites. My review aims to evaluate each ice cream for its overall representation of the snack cake and the total quality as a stand-alone ice cream. I purchased as many of the accompanying snack cakes as I could find but could not track down a Honey Bun or Swiss Roll IRL. (Supply chain shortages, UGH!)
I started my journey with the Nutty Bars one and immediately noticed the foil lid with a Hudsonville Ice Cream label. In my excitement to find these, I had missed the fantastic detail that these are all truly “ice creams” and not “frozen desserts,” “light ice creams,” or “soft serves.” The first three ingredients in every variety are milk, cream, and sugar (and then many other ingredients, but still, I was delighted and hopeful).
Nutty Bars Ice Cream
The Nutty Bars variety is a peanut butter ice cream with chocolate swirls and small Nutty Bar-type inclusions. The pieces were wafer squares covered in chocolate which had a more dense texture than the Nutty Bars themselves but were still pretty representative and delivered a wafer crunch. I was smitten. The flavors were clear and balanced, and the ice cream had enough flavor and texture elements to make it enjoyable while also definitely reminding me of a Nutty Bar.
Rating: 10 out of 10Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 280 Calories, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.
Zebra Cakes Ice Cream
Next up, I dug into the Zebra Cakes version, stopping to admire the zebra-striped lid and familiar graphics. It has a vanilla ice cream base with chocolate fudge swirls and vanilla cake pieces. The base tasted remarkably similar to the cake and frosting of the actual snack. The fudge swirl was a great addition, though I think it overrepresented the chocolate note compared to the snack cake’s decorative chocolate swirl. The pieces were more saturated than the Zebra Cake cake, which somehow made them better. This reminded me of the Christmas Tree Cakes Ice Cream, but with the welcome addition of the over-achieving chocolate swirl. Also, yeah, the only Zebra Cake I could locate was a Zebra Cakes ROLL, but the flavor, for comparison’s sake, was the same.
Rating: 9 out of 10Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Strawberry Shortcake Rolls Ice Cream
After the Zebra Cakes, I went for the similar Strawberry Shortcake Rolls Ice Cream. This was vanilla-based with a strawberry swirl and vanilla cake pieces. This flavor made it clear that Little Debbie was an active participant in this collaboration because the strawberry swirl tasted IDENTICAL to the strawberry cream in the snack cake version. Like, WOW. There were lots of vanilla cake inclusions, and once again, the base had a bit of that vanilla cream flavor as well. In terms of tasting like the snack cake, this one felt about as close as you could get in an ice cream form. I’m not typically a strawberry ice cream fan, but there isn’t anything I don’t like about this.
Also read: Little Debbie : Shop Groceries – Target
Rating: 10 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
Oatmeal Creme Pies Ice Cream
Having established a heightened level of expectation, I chose the Oatmeal Creme Pies one next. This flavor had a lot of pressure, as it’s one of Little Debbie’s most well-known and best-selling treats (according to the internet). The ice cream base was a nice clean vanilla, and the mix-in was marble-sized gobs of cinnamon cookie pieces that didn’t appear to have any oats. Still, they were certainly representative. My biggest qualm is that there were too few cookies since they were the only inclusion. They also tasted too heavily of cinnamon and ginger. They were delicious, yes, but they didn’t taste as close to the Oatmeal Creme Pie cookie as I thought they would. Once I found and ate the cookie pieces, I was left with too much plain vanilla ice cream.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 220 Calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Honey Buns Ice Cream
Honey Buns Ice Cream was next, and I have to say, I was really disappointed I couldn’t find an actual Honey Bun to compare. I did find a Hostess Jumbo Honey Bun, but that’s a different brand, and I was dedicated to the accuracy! When trying this, the first words out of my mouth were, “Holy crap! How’d they do that?” This delivers on the donut flavor. The base tasted exactly like a Honey Bun (again, maybe this is the magic of shared artificial flavors, and if so, I’m ALL for it!). There were cinnamon sugar swirls and sugar-coated fried dough chunks, which were slightly CRUNCHY like an old-fashioned donut. This ice cream blew my freaking mind. I will buy this again. The cinnamon might have been a tiny bit heavy, but those donut pieces, whoa.
Rating: 10 out of 10 with enthusiasm.Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 240 Calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Swiss Rolls Ice Cream
Heading back to the cake roll realm, I tried Swiss Rolls Ice Cream next. Again, pathetically, I couldn’t find an actual Swiss Roll to compare it with and had to go a bit on memory for this one. This featured a chocolate base which, again, tasted remarkably similar to the specific chocolate frosting found on Swiss Rolls. There were chocolate cake pieces and a white swirl to represent the sweet cream filling which had sort of a marshmallowy flavor. It might have just been my pint, but I thought the cake pieces were noticeably smaller than those in the Zebra Cake or Strawberry Shortcake varieties, and that made it hard to taste/notice them. When I did encounter some cake, it was dry and gritty. Overall, I still think this came close to representing a Swiss Roll, but as a stand-alone ice cream, the quality wasn’t as high as the others.
Rating: 6 out of 10Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 210 Calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
Cosmic Brownies Ice Cream
And to round out this crossover launch, there’s Cosmic Brownies Ice Cream. Bright-colored chocolate sprinkles and gobs of chewy chocolate brownie were scattered against a background of chocolate ice cream. I honestly think the base’s flavor could have been stronger, but that might have taken it closer to the taste of Cosmic Brownie frosting. Maybe they could have also added a chocolate swirl? The brownie pieces, however, were fantastic. Chewy, chocolatey, and plentiful, the only thing wrong with them is that I think I liked them better than an actual Cosmic Brownie, and that made me feel like a traitor. The vibrant sprinkles are a little bit lost and muted when submerged in ice cream, but I was surprised that they still did deliver a candy flavor of their own. A pretty decent match with the popular treat and not at all a bad stand-alone ice cream.
Rating: 8 out of 10Nutrition Facts: (1/3 of the container) 230 Calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.
I was pretty blown away by this lineup. I told A LOT of friends and family to go find them. I don’t think many other brand crossover launches like this have done this well at replicating flavor profiles, and I tip my hat to the ingenuity of McKee Foods and Hudsonville Ice Cream. I was particularly impressed with the quality, especially at a $2.50 price point. As mentioned above, the only disappointment was when I occasionally realized I might like one or two of these better than their bakery counterpart. Heaven forbid.
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