Food Fight

Frozen Fast Food Frenzy

It's hot as balls in Houston. You can do your best to hurry from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned movie theater / bar / restaurant / etc., but at some point you're going to be forced to spend more than 30 seconds outside. Just last night, Eating Our Words got stuck at an outside table for three solid hours because our friends are smokers, and of course smokers would cut open your still-beating heart if they thought a cigarette might be inside it, so forcing us to sit outside in the muggy armpit swelter of the city gave them no pause whatsoever. The point is, it's going to happen to you sometime, so Eating Our Words went looking for the best frozen fast-food desserts to help give you some small amount of comfort as you sit there baking your brains.

McFlurry: McDonald's McFlurry can be used almost as a control group. Everyone has had one; everyone knows exactly how they taste. We chose the variety with M&Ms. It was tasty, if unimaginative. McDonald's has always had decent-quality soft-serve ice cream, so when it's combined with M&M and served in big ol' cup, there's not exactly a lot of room for error.

Sonic Blast: Eating Our Words was not looking forward to the Sonic Blast, having had one before and come away sorely disappointed. Still, that was a long time ago, and there's been plenty of time to improve, right? Not really, no. We chose the Butterfinger topping - one of our favorites - but to no avail. The ice cream was of very poor quality - watery, with a peculiar chemical aftertaste that made us think of Diet Coke that had been sitting in the garage for too long. The whipped cream topping seemed more substantial than the ice cream itself. Sonic may be good at hamburgers and cherry limeade, but if you want ice cream, you're better off going almost anywhere else. Or even making your own.

Brownie Batter Blizzard: Dairy Queen is usually pushing some kind of special or seasonal Blizzard, and now is no exception. With TV commercials and posters advertising the Brownie Batter Blizzard so aggressively, we felt we should see if it was worth the hype. Turns out: pretty much, yeah. Dairy Queen's ice cream is arguably the smoothest and tastiest of any of the fast food franchises', and sticking chunks of brownies into the mix is pure genius. We're convinced all of Dairy Queen's specialty Blizzards are dreamed up by a think-tank consisting of potheads and pregnant women, as they are relentlessly original and terrific.

Tropical Smoothie: Jack In the Box is no slouch when it comes to ice cream. Its strawberry-banana shakes were one of our favorite things when they were available, and delicious enough to rival even the Blizzard (no small feat). So it may seem unfair that we chose to sample a dessert containing no ice cream, but on the outset of this venture, Eating Our Words decided to try any new/specialty/seasonal desserts being advertised as a way to beat the heat. The Tropical Smoothie, brand-spankin'-new, wasn't bad at all. Of course, it wasn't spectacular either. It basically tastes of banana, mango, and... nothing else, as far as we could tell. It was reasonably refreshing and inoffensive. It wouldn't be the world's biggest mistake to purchase a Tropical Smoothie if nothing else is available, but if you're in the mood for a smoothie and a Smoothie King or Jamba Juice is less than ten minutes away, we'd go with that instead.

That's not meringue, baby. Aw, yeah.
Root Beer Frosty Float:The Frosty is one of Wendy's most well-known items. A peculiar dessert that seems to be neither chocolate nor vanilla but somewhere in the middle, it seems to trigger some kind of primal instinct to dip your fries into it (we do this and enjoy it, and we are a little ashamed). The new Root Beer Frosty Float, however, is made from the pure vanilla variety of Frosty, a fact we didn't notice until we were halfway through it. That was because it is delicious. You can choose other soft drink flavors (and probably the normal "chocolate-esque" Frosty flavor; we didn't ask), but honestly, the vanilla goes just fine with the root beer. In fact, they complement one another perfectly, and one of the great things about this dessert is the more it melts, the better it mixes, so feel free to take your time eating it. A fine showing from Wendy's.

Overall, we'd have to say our favorite was the Brownie Batter Blizzard, narrowly edging out the Root Beer Frosty Float. The worst was easily the Sonic Blast; nothing else even came close to tasting as bad. We hope you'll keep our dogged research in mind when choosing your frozen fast-food treat this summer. Now if you'll excuse us, we're going to go chug about a pint of insulin and take a nice, long nap.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Seaborn Gray