REO Top Ten: Ice Cream

Sunday was National Ice Cream Day. We celebrated by finalizing our Ice Cream Top Ten. Our process was simple: We listed as many ice cream flavors as we could think of. We narrowed down that list to 32 real contenders. We then did a double elimination vote to get us to our Champion.

Basically, we made ice cream seem sort of boring. So, to counteract that and balance the scales, we spent the last few days – post National Ice Cream Day – eating as much ice cream as we could handle. The results were not pretty: Ben is in a sugar coma. Gowdy was seen running around the convention center in Cincinnati shirtless and yelling something about boycotting artificial flavors. Mike now has type 3 Diabetes. It’s the worst kind you can get. Phill…well, the less said about Phill the better. And don’t get us started on Mark or D.A. Their penchant for food fights ruined what was turning out to be a perfect afternoon. And Nathan can’t stop smiling which is really weird because Nathan doesn’t smile that much. Or ever.

We hope you will be able to appreciate and enjoy this Top Ten with more maturity than us. And, if you disagree, you know what to do. (Hint: post your disagreement in the comment section.)

10. Vanilla Toffee

Toffee is one of the most under appreciated candies. But at REO we know better! Buttery, rich, and just the right amount of sweetness the flavor of toffee can enhance just about any dessert. When paired with a classic ice cream such as vanilla it’s a win for your taste buds. (Mark Sass)

9. Peanut Butter Fudge

The most complimentary thing I can say about Peanut Butter Fudge is that I do not like fudge and yet this ice cream is so good it makes that ingredient work. Peanut Butter definitely makes just about everything better (as seen in our list here and in our Top 10 Candies) so that is not a surprise at all. Oh Peanut Butter Fudge, you are a poor man’s Chocolate Peanut Butter but that’s still rich enough for us at REO. At least to crack the Top 10. (Gowdy Cannon)

8. Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey is banana flavored ice cream with chunks of fudge and walnuts. No. Well, yes, but no. Chunky Monkey is an extra bit of sanity and patience and comfort and calm in a pint from a couple of dudes in Vermont. And it’s tasty. (Nathan Patton)

7. Salted Caramel

The question is as old as time: sweet or salty? William Shakespeare explored this dilemma of flavor at the close of the 16th century when he wrote those famous words spoken by Hamlet, “To sweet or to salt? Whether ’tis nobler to consume sweetness or to take up saltiness into thy mouth?”.* More than 400 years later we at REO have definitively answered that question with a “yes”. Life on Earth is too short to chose between sweet or salty. So, get a scoop or two or three of salted caramel ice cream and enjoy both sweet and salty at the same time! (Mark Sass)

*I quoted this from memory, but think I captured the gist of Hamlet’s soliloquy. (Mark Sass)

Mark, that quote is exactly the way I remember it as well. If Bill Shakespeare is known for anything, it’s his unbridled love of ice cream and other frozen desserts.

And yes, Salted Caramel is the best of both worlds…almost. Until you get to our number 6. Be sure when you refer to this delicious flavor, that you don’t mispronounce “caramel.” It’s not “KAR-muhl” as the heathens call it. It’s KARR-uh-mel as the Lord intended. (Phill Lytle) 

6. Butter Pecan

The perfect Butter Pecan is just the right blend of sweetness (not too sweet!) and a little bit of savory. The butter in the aforementioned name gives it just that tiny bit of richness and, dare I say it, a little bit of saltiness. It’s the perfect combination. The pecans add a little crunch and a delicious flavor boost. It’s not for everyone but it is most definitely for me. And that’s enough. (Phill Lytle)

I’ve never had a bad version of Butter Pecan ice cream. The best version I’ve had though is Talenti’s Southern Butter Pecan gelato. Why? Three words. DULCHE DE LECHE. (Nathan Patton)

5. Vanilla

You can’t go wrong with classic Vanilla. The best is three scoops of Breyer’s Natural Vanilla topped with half a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. (Nathan Patton)

I know what you’re thinking, but no, we are not talking about the early 90s music sensation Vanilla Ice. We’re talking about one of the most versatile ice creams known to mankind. This classic vanilla goes with cake; it goes with strawberries; it’s a perfect match for nuts, whip cream, and chocolate fudge. For corn sakes, McDonald’s vanilla soft serve is one of the best things about the ‘80s. And I’m a fan of that decade, I really am. (Ben Plunkett) 

For a long time, Breyers All Natural Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was my favorite ice cream in the world. I still love it, though I believe they have changed their recipe a bit and it’s lost some of its magic. Thankfully, Vanilla Ice Cream comes in all sorts of delicious varieties: homemade, slow churned, vanilla bean, and double vanilla. Regardless of the specific style, there is something welcoming and special about Vanilla ice cream. It reminds us of endless summer days, playing with our friends in the neighborhood, birthday parties, family get-togethers, love, happiness, and joy. (Phill Lytle) 

Some of my best childhood memories involve vanilla ice cream. Sure, it gets made fun of for being plain, but it’s the stuff of legends. Also, Japan has some KILLER vanilla ice cream from its northern island, Hokkaido. I highly recommend trying some if you ever make it over to Japan. (D. A. Speer)

4. Rocky Road

Chocolate ice cream. Nuts. Marshmallows. When done right, it’s one of my favorite flavors, though the worst versions are still edible. The best versions have chocolate covered nuts and marshmallow cream instead of marshmallows. (Nathan Patton)

I have been a dedicated fan of this classic since boyhood, nay infancy. It has been quite the rocky road the two of us have traveled together and it has been glorious. Like Nathan said, its combination of chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts is pretty near perfection most of the time. Today it is probably number two or three for me. (Ben Plunkett)

3. Chocolate

Pure unadulterated chocolate ice cream has always been my favorite ice cream and always will be to my dying days. I have been told by naysayers that plain chocolate ice cream is boring because it does not have anything like peanut butter or nuts or marshmallows added. While I do consider several ice creams like that among my favorites, most of the time I would rather just enjoy simple chocolate in all of its glory without any interfering tastes or textures. That is why whenever my birthdays rolls around my request is always a staunch “Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream.” Ah chocolate ice cream; I could bathe in the stuff. Kidding. Way too cold and sticky. Who needs that? But you get the picture. Its perfection in ice cream form. (Ben Plunkett)

We are going to skip right over the part where Ben talked about bathing in chocolate ice cream…

Chocolate ice cream is amazing. Even the cheap stuff tastes pretty good. But if you can find a luxurious brand or style, you too will start uttering nonsense about bathing in it. It’s that good. (Phill Lytle)

2. Chocolate Peanut Butter

I have already expressed my deep and undying devotion to chocolate ice cream without any other flavors and textures to distract. Nevertheless, my friends, I assure you I do quite often enjoy those distractions in my chocolate. Two other chocolate-based ice creams are in my personal top ten: Rocky Road and Chocolate Peanut Butter. I love these guys so much that depending on my mood I might even choose them over chocolate. While on average such a thing is a rarer occurrence, it is there and cannot be ignored.

Peanut butter and chocolate, those two are a magical combo any way you look at it. Smash them between graham crackers, enjoy them in the inimitable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, mix them up together for chocolate peanut butter frosting, it makes little difference. You are always going to win with this matchup so I don’t at all begrudge Chocolate Peanut Putter surpassing Chocolate ice cream here. (Ben Plunkett)

Initially I wanted to call shenanigans on Chocolate Peanut Butter ending up as our number two ice cream flavor. Who voted for this? And if so many people voted for it, why did no one besides the honorable Benjamin Lloyd Plunkett want to write about it. Then I realized that we are talking about Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream and all was well in the world again. This ice cream is made by combining two of the greatest flavors known to man. That fact alone should catapult it to the number two spot! (Phill Lytle)

1. Cookies and Cream

I suppose I should be happy that four of my five favorite flavors made it on our top ten list. (RIP Pistachio.) I am not. I am ashamed. Ashamed on behalf of my Rambling brothers who allowed such an atrocious flavor of ice cream to not only make an appearance on our top ten list but to be number one. For shame. Given a choice between Cookies and Cream and no ice cream, the correct answer is no ice cream. Every time. (Nathan Patton)

I ask pardon for Nathan’s deeply misled ways. We have done our very best to lead him down straight and narrow path of ice cream purity. Sadly, it is all for naught. He’s completely incorrigible, that one.

Ah cookies and cream, while it’s not my number one, its probably about number four for me. Its the ice cream with the cookie crunch. Kidding, there’s not really a crunch. There are cookie crumbs, though, delicious chocolate cookie crumbs floating about in the vanilla (?) ice cream. (Ben Plunkett)

Ignore Nathan. He’s a classic curmudgeon in every sense of the word. Cookies and Cream ice cream is delicious. Is it my number 1? No. But, my number 1 never ends up as the number 1 on any of our Top Tens, so I’m not going to cry about it. Like some people who shall remain nameless. Hint: Their name starts with the letter N and rhymes with Athan. (Phill Lytle)

In South Carolina, at least in the Cannon family, we call it Oreo Ice Cream. And if you’ve ever had an Oreo Flurry or Oreo Blizzard, you know why. It’s almost the same thing. But most of the world calls the ice cream “Cookies and Cream”. No matter the name, it’s the best. The blend of a handful of ingredients that are sweet and delectable on their own still produces a flavor synergy that cannot be topped on this category. At least to me. And many of our staff here at REO. Hence, it is the champ. (Gowdy Cannon)

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

7 thoughts on “REO Top Ten: Ice Cream

  • July 24, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    Excellent cases made for the various flavors. Hard to beat chocolate. I love the Turtle ice cream as well.

  • July 24, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t like ranking things. But I like reading funny things about ranked things!

  • July 24, 2019 at 11:17 pm

    My review of your review… 🙂

    Notable misses from the list: the aforementioned pistachio (almond), orange sherbet (ok, not strictly ice cream), peach. Could easily remove toffee from the list for one of those.

    Also, the best vanilla is Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla; I realize that you can’t get it as many places as Breyer’s, but once you try it, you’ll understand.

    • July 25, 2019 at 7:34 am

      I definitely would have voted for any kind of sherbet if it had been on the bracket. However, before even doing the tournament we determined it wouldn’t be fair to have sherbet on there since its actually not ice cream.

    • July 25, 2019 at 8:24 am

      Blue Bell’s homemade vanilla is great. When we created the bracket, we tried to keep it to flavors more than specific brands. Not everyone has access to every brand but most of us had access or had tried the various flavors. Now, when we wrote our blurbs, we were okay with talking about brands that we liked even if those were not technically part of the voting process.

      I hope that makes sense. It’s early.

    • July 30, 2019 at 5:19 pm

      Oh, yes. Totally makes sense. I understand and agree about the call on the sherbet, and I just had to give my props to Blue Bell. 🙂

  • April 5, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    Jeez, Dad, cookies and cream isn’t that bad. My top five would be mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, rocky road, pumpkin not pumpkin spice mind you, and pistachio.


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