by Jack Archambault
The best meal is dessert, the best dessert is ice cream, and the best ice cream is made in Waterbury, Vermont by Ben & Jerry’s.
Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 by childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and it has gone from a single shop in Burlington, Vermont to over 500 shops worldwide. Pints are sold in stores in 38 countries, and they are currently available in 55 flavors.
But which one is the best?
In honor of National Ice Cream Day on July 21, the paper decided to find out. Using very scientific processes, we came up with a bracket containing the top 32 Ben & Jerry’s flavors and asked our Instagram audience to vote on the winners. After a thrilling five-day battle, here’s what we found:
Flavors were seeded 1 through 8 for the four quadrants of the bracket. Seedings were assigned based on a combination of my personal preferences and customer reviews on the Ben & Jerry’s website. After creating an initial draft of the bracket, I presented it to the paper staff for suggestions and revisions.
Gabby said, “This is a great idea!!”
Meredith said, “Best flavor is strawberry cheesecake objectively.”
The other 12 people said nothing. So that’s how we ended up with Cherry Garcia as a 2 seed and Half Baked as a 4. Because I wanted it that way, and nobody stepped in and stopped me.
The First Round
#1 Americone Dream (77%) def. #8 Vanilla (23%)
#4 Half Baked (78%) def. #5 Cinnamon Buns (22%)
#6 Everything But The…(53%) def. #3 Chocolate Therapy (47%)
#7 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (78%) def. #2 Cherry Garcia (22%)
It was immediately clear that my seedings were flawed in the eyes of the public. Americone Dream and Half Baked took care of business, but 2 and 3 seeds Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Therapy were toppled.
Cherry Garcia’s defeat saddened me the most, and it served as a reckoning on fruit in ice cream. In defense of Cherry Garcia, it was the second most popular flavor in 2018, and if you actually try it, it’s delicious. More than anything, though, I was beginning to learn that I seriously underestimated how much people love cookie dough.
This section of the bracket also provided my favorite moment of the first round, when this happened:
That’s Claire Nunez, former Editor-in-Chief of the paper, completely embarrassing herself and making the case that vanilla is “underrated” and not plain. Uhh, what? If you look up the word “vanilla” on thesaurus.com, the second result is literally “plain.” Here, look. It doesn’t get much more serial killer-y than eating plain vanilla Ben & Jerry’s, and it’s just really tough to see Claire like this.
Another vanilla-related note: In 5th grade, my teacher told our class that her favorite ice cream flavor was vanilla bean. Not vanilla, and certainly not French vanilla. To this day, my fondest memory of that year was watching her come to the verge of tears because a bunch of 11-year-olds couldn’t understand the difference.
#1 Phish Food (70%) def. #8 S’mores (30%)
#4 Milk & Cookies (67%) def. #5 Boom Chocolatta Cookie Core (33%)
#3 Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz! (60%) def. #6 Red Velvet (40%)
#2 Chubby Hubby (60%) def. #7 Karamel Sutra Core (40%)
In 2011, Ben & Jerry’s drew the ire of the conservative Christian organization One Million Moms over its newest flavor: the SNL-inspired Schweddy Balls. In a message to the company, One Million Moms said, “The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive.” I wonder what they would think about Karamel Sutra Core.
To give you an idea of the kinds of things One Million Moms spends time lobbying against, one of the top petitions on their website is headlined “Disney Blindsides Families With Lesbian Scene in Toy Story 4.” So yeah, they can pretty much just go ahead and fuck off. As long as it’s not with someone of the same sex, of course.
#1 Chunky Monkey (57%) def. #8 Vanilla Toffee Bar Crunch (43%)
#5 Truffle Kerfuffle (67%) def. #4 Strawberry Cheesecake (33%)
#6 Peanut Butter Cup (62%) def. #3 Vanilla Caramel Fudge (38%)
#2 The Tonight Dough (74%) def. #7 Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch (26%)
This was a big loss for Meredith “Strawberry Cheesecake is objectively the best flavor” Mclaughlin, as the “best flavor” took an absolute beating from Truffle Kerfuffle. To me, this may have just been the result of not that many people having actually tried Strawberry Cheesecake, as it is truly delicious. Still, if Cherry Garcia taught us anything, it’s that people really don’t like fruit in their ice cream.
My personal favorite, Chunky Monkey, was also in this quadrant, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous after seeing it win unconvincingly against a very weak Vanilla Toffee Bar Crunch.
#1 New York Super Fudge Chunk (59%) def. #8 Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core (41%)
#4 Peanut Butter Fudge Core (61%) def. #5 Oat of this Swirled (39%)
#6 Triple Caramel Chunk (70%) def. #3 Banana Split (30%)
#2 Mint Chocolate Cookie (67%) def. #7 Peanut Buttah Cookie Core (33%)
For those who haven’t been keeping track, 3 seeds are now 1 for 4, and fruit flavors are 0 for 3. And here’s the fact of this article that you can impress your friends with: Ben Cohen has severe anosmia, which means he lacks a sense of smell or taste. As such, he relies on “mouth feel” and texture to provide some type of noticeable variety to his diet, and that is why so many Ben & Jerry’s flavors have large chunks in them. Imagine, an ice cream genius who can’t even taste his own creations.
* * *
#4 Half Baked (61%) def. #1 Americone Dream (39%)
#7 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (52%) def. #6 Everything But The… (48%)
Everything but the Elite 8, apparently, as Everything But The… fell juuust short of advancing to the quarterfinals. And Colbert got crushed.
#1 Phish Food (61%) def. #4 Milk & Cookies (39%)
#2 Chubby Hubby (57%) def. #3 Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz (43%)
Not too many surprises here, but I do think Coffee, Coffee might be the most underrated Ben & Jerry’s flavor.
#5 Truffle Kerfuffle (51%) def. #1 Chunky Monkey (49%)
#2 The Tonight Dough (71%) def. #6 Peanut Butter Cup (29%)
I dream that my children will grow up in a world where banana ice cream is appreciated for the flavor masterpiece that it is. But for now, I can only sit here, wait, imagine, and watch Chunky Monkey, the banana-based Mona Lisa of ice cream, fall by the slimmest possible margin to a flavor that I didn’t even know existed until two days before. People always think they know what they want, but they never really do, and that has never been truer than it is here.
And while Jimmy Fallon might not have as good of a late-night show as Stephen Colbert (remember, he once had the Fordham basketball team on so they could throw cheese at him), he at least has a better ice cream flavor.
#1 New York Super Fudge Chunk (65%) def. #4 Peanut Butter Fudge Core (35%)
#2 Mint Chocolate Cookie (58%) def. #6 Triple Caramel Chunk (42%)
New York Super Fudge Chunk has a really great mouth feel.
* * *
Elite 8 (aka the haiku round)
#4 Half Baked (65%) def. #7 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (35%)
Four to Final Four
Cookie dough and brownie bits?
Recipe to win
#1 Phish Food (64%) def. #2 Chubby Hubby (36%)
Love marshmallow swirls
Hubby sleeps with the Phishes
We love chocolate more
#2 The Tonight Dough (83%) def. #5 Truffle Kerfuffle (17%)
Fallon makes his mark
Largest win of tournament
#2 Mint Chocolate Cookie (52%) def. #1 New York Super Fudge Chunk (48%)
Victory for mint
Is New York known for its fudge?
Still has good mouth feel
* * *
#4 Half Baked (69%) def. #2 Mint Chocolate Cookie (31%)
#2 The Tonight Dough (54%) def. #1 Phish Food (46%)
Can anyone stop Half Baked? I put them as a 4 seed without thinking much of it, and now they’ve advanced all the way to the finals without breaking a sweat. Mint Chocolate Cookie is a great flavor, and I’m glad it got its due by advancing to the Final Four, but Half Baked is a juggernaut.
As is The Tonight Dough. Jimmy Fallon used to have another flavor, Late Night Snack, the signature ingredient of which was potato chip clusters. Tonight Dough is a definite upgrade. Speaking of flavor changes, the original eight Ben & Jerry’s pint flavors were Oreo Mint, French Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge, Wild Blueberry, Mocha Walnut, Maple Walnut, Honey Coffee, and Honey Orange. I would seed them like this:
- Mocha Walnut
- Maple Walnut
- Chocolate Fudge
- Oreo Mint
- Honey Coffee
- Wild Blueberry
- Honey Orange
- French Vanilla (sorry, Claire)
* * *
#4 Half Baked (61%) def. #2 The Tonight Dough (39%)
Half Baked: chocolate and vanilla ice cream with gobs of chocolate chip cookie dough and fudge brownies
The Tonight Dough: chocolate and caramel ice cream with gobs of chocolate cookie swirls and gobs of chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie dough
Sound similar? I guess people like what they like, and it’s fitting that the finals pitted two nearly identical flavors against each other. In the end, though, it was another runaway for Half Baked.
So the next time somebody asks you what your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s is, look them in the eye and tell them confidently, “I can do you one better and tell you what the best flavor is. The best flavor is Half Baked, because the paper proved it with science.”