From pints of non-dairy ice cream to frozen novelties, vegan frozen dessert options are proliferating today. In this in-depth and unbiased article, we review eight different nondairy frozen ice cream sandwich products, including four conventional sandwiches (wafer-type) and four cookie sandwiches. There is not a bad product in the bunch, although some are notably tastier than others, and the quality of ingredients varies substantially. This range of nondairy frozen novelties nicely fills a niche market--one that is growing every year. Don't expect to find any superb values here. Nondairy ice cream sandwiches tend to be more expensive than their dairy-laden cousins, but the quality of ingredients used in these vegan versions is, in most cases, superior. You won't find any hydrogenated oils or trans fats, and saturated fat content is usually lower as well.
TOFUTTI CUTIES®: We begin with the classic nondairy soy-based sandwich product by Tofutti. Their Tofutti Cuties have been around longer than any other frozen nondairy novelty product, and they're now available in more flavors than ever. From traditional vanilla and chocolate flavors to berry flavors, to rippled "wave" varieties, the options seem almost endless (but they are likely to be limited by your local store). So how do they taste? These little sandwiches are sweet and creamy--just what you're looking for in a mini dessert! At 1.5 ounces, they're about 120 calories each, with 5 grams of fat. That's not too bad if you can stop at just one. There is nothing healthy or particularly special about the ingredients used--plenty of sugar and corn oil, and nothing organic. But they're vegan and they do taste great. You get 8 per box at a suggested price of $3.99. That may be a typical price for conventional dairy sandwiches of twice the size, but Tofutti offers a much better flavor selection. TASTE: A ... INGREDIENTS: C ... VALUE: B-
LIL' DREAMERS® by Imagine® (The Hain Celestial Group) are certified organic soy-based mini sandwiches, available in vanilla or chocolate. They're similar in size and appearance to Tofutti Cuties and no doubt were introduced years ago due to the success of Tofutti's product. With different ingredients and 20 fewer calories, Lil' Dreamers aren't quite as creamy. They make for a decent 100-calorie dessert but are unlikely to win over true ice cream lovers. The organic ingredients certainly don't make Lil' Dreamers a health food, of course, but nobody buys ice cream sandwiches for their nutritional benefits, right? A typical retail price is about $3.50 for a box of 8. TASTE: B ... INGREDIENTS: B ... VALUE: B
SO DELICIOUS® SANDWICHES: Formerly known as Lil' Buddies®, Organic So Delicious Sandwiches are low fat nondairy ice cream sandwiches by Turtle Mountain. If their previous Lil Buddies name sounds pretty similar to their competitor's Lil' Dreamers, it is probably no coincidence. Because these are more sizable 3-oz. sandwiches, their recent departure from the Lil' label probably makes sense for this product, which is available in vanilla, chocolate, mint, or peanut butter. For a low fat product, So Delicious Sandwiches are pretty tasty. As expected, they're not so creamy as the Tofutti Cuties, but the larger serving size might make up for this fact somewhat in terms of total satisfaction. The 'So Delicious' name is a change from 'Soy Delicious,' a hugely successful brand among vegans, but perhaps not so appealing to your average consumer, who does not associate soy with tasty desserts. However, while this particular sandwich product may compete well with traditional low fat dairy sandwiches, it is unlikely to sway the non-health-conscious consumer away from full-fat dairy sandwiches. A box of 6 has a suggested retail price of $4.99. TASTE: B ... INGREDIENTS: B+ ... VALUE: B
SO DELICIOUS® MINIS: Turtle Mountain recently introduced their smaller 90-calorie low-fat So Delicious Minis largely to compete with Tofutti Cuties (made very clear by Turtle Mountain's marketing materials). This product is very similar in consistency to their larger sandwiches, but these Minis are not certified organic. In comparison to Tofutti Cuties, So Delicious Minis have 25% fewer calories and less than half the fat. In terms of taste, the Minis don't quite measure up to Tofutti's product. It's not clear why Turtle Mountain chose their low fat So Delicious brand rather than their richer Purely Decadent® filling for these sandwiches. After all, desserts usually compete on taste, not on the ingredients or nutritional profile. And if they do want to compete on ingredients, wouldn't the organic certification prove to be useful? There are a fair number of organic ingredients in these Minis, so perhaps they should have gone all the way with them. Available in vanilla, chocolate, or mint, a box of 8 Minis has a suggested retail price of $3.99. TASTE: B ... INGREDIENTS: B ... VALUE: B-
All four of these sandwich products are soy-based, although most of their calories really come from sugars and starches. Still, if you have an allergy to soy, then you're SOL (simply out of luck). Years back, Imagine made a rice-based frozen dessert sandwich called 'Dreamwich,' but it was discontinued. With the growing number of consumers now looking for nondairy desserts, a non-soy-based sandwich may do well in today's market.
Our four nondairy ice cream cookie sandwich products under review are larger and more decadent than the above wafer-type sandwich products. There are no low calorie options or small serving sizes here! (Calories per serving range from 240 to 360, compared with 90 to 150 for the above sandwiches.)
RICE DREAM® FROZEN PIE: Although a non-soy-based option seems to be missing in the wafer-type nondairy sandwich lineup, Imagine has produced delicious rice-based ice cream cookie sandwiches that are coated in chocolate. These frozen pies come in four flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, mint, and mocha. Actually, the vanilla version is coated with carob, while the other three flavors are coated with chocolate. Perhaps Imagine wanted to offer an option for that unfortunate individual with allergies to dairy, soy, and chocolate. Even if you're generally not too enamored with carob, you'll probably find the vanilla product to be your best carob experience ever. But if you really hate carob, just choose one of the other three flavors. Regardless, these frozen pies are very tasty and decadent. With 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, and some saturated fat-laden oils, they're not the best choice for the diet conscious, but they're certainly no more of an indulgence than similar dairy-based frozen novelty products. Sold individually, these tasty 3.7-oz. frozen pies go for about $1.20 each. TASTE: A ... INGREDIENTS: C ... VALUE: B+
SO DELICIOUS® CHOCOLATE CHIP SANDWICH: This certified organic product from Turtle Mountain is comprised of nondairy vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies--the basic ice cream cookie sandwich concept. The vanilla ice cream filling is decent, though the cookies taste somewhat generic. Nonetheless, it is a satisfying dessert, and it's also the least fattening of the bunch. These 4.2-oz. novelties are sold individually for about $1.40. TASTE: B ... INGREDIENTS:B ... VALUE:B
PURELY DECADENT® MANIA SANDWICHES: Another product from Turtle Mountain, but from their premium (and higher fat) Purely Decadent brand, these chocolate coated cookie sandwiches are in fact more decadent and more delicious than their So Delicious cookie sandwich product. Still, they somehow have about 30% fewer calories than the same-sized (3.7-oz.) Rice Dream Frozen Pies. They contain some organic ingredients, but the oatmeal cookies and chocolate coating contain saturated fat-laden tropical oils as well. There is no good reason to use such oils in the cookie portion of this frozen product, but in the chocolate coating the saturated fat presumably helps prevent a meltdown in your hot summertime hands. Available in Vanilla Mania and Mocha Mania flavors, these very tasty sandwiches are sold in boxes of 4 at a suggested price of $4.99. TASTE: A ... INGREDIENTS: B- ... VALUE: B-
HEMP-I-SCREAM® SANDWICH: These delicious ice cream cookie sandwiches from Hemp Sources (Boulder, Colorado) are by far the most innovative and expensive of the lineup. The nondairy ice cream and cookies are made with hemp seed flour, along with sunflower seeds, canola oil, whole grains (not organic), and of course plenty of sugar (turbinado and "granulated fructose"). This may be the only frozen dessert that is a decent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, though with 360 calories and 19 grams of fat in each 4-oz. sandwich, we're not talking health food--nor do these sandwiches taste like health food. In their own special way, they're just as decadent as any of the others in the bunch. The cookies are perhaps even better than the ice cream filling, and they're made without any tropical oils! Hemp-I-Scream Sandwiches come in five flavors, including Vanilla, Double Dutch Chocolate, Mocha Mint, Mango Love, and Jasmine Flowers. Each 4-oz. cookie sandwich is typically priced at a whopping $3.50, and distribution at this time is limited to parts of Colorado, South Dakota, Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Hopefully this small company can secure national distribution and somewhat lower pricing in the near future. TASTE: A ... INGREDIENTS: B+ ... VALUE: D
Notice that there is no longer any frozen cookie sandwich option from Tofutti. Some of you may be asking, "What ever happened to Tofutti Too-Toos?" their creamy nondairy ice cream cookie sandwiches from years ago. The company insists that they could not get the packaging, marketing, and distribution right in order to make it a profitable product. Maybe they should give the Too-Toos another try in today's growing market?
Well, we hope that you have learned just about everything you wanted to know about your nondairy ice cream sandwich options. If not, or if you have something special to add, please do drop us an e-mail.
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