I never used to go to Target to buy ice cream, but I do now.
As I walked by the freezer case one day, one of the company's Market Pantry ice creams stopped me in my tracks. Unicorn Magic? What the heck kind of flavor is that? The label described it as "fruity." Next to it was another curiosity: Birthday Cake, made with frosting-flavored ice cream. Both were only $2.99 for 1.5 quarts. The price was as low as my expectations, but my curiosity was definitely piqued. I had to try them, so into the cart they went.
Turns out, both were big hits. Emboldened by these successes, my husband, a die-hard fan of classic ice cream sandwiches, came back from a Target run with the Triple Chocolate versions from Market Pantry. They looked perfectly unassuming — but they actually blew our minds. That's when I realized I had to rethink everything I knew about this bargain-priced, store-brand ice cream. It's not merely trying to be a cheap replacement for the usual name-brand flavors — it's making its own creative waves too.
And Target's premium store brand, Archer Farms, just got in the game
Do not confuse this thoroughly irresistible tub of yum with cake batter ice cream, which often tastes as cloying as a scented vanilla candle smells. No, this is birthday cake — as in actual pieces of yellow cake suspended in a creamy ice cream base that tastes like frosting. It's junk-food heaven. If you love Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, this will be your new favorite flavor, and the little pink and blue sprinkles give it a properly festive touch (whether it's someone's birthday or not).
Classic ice cream sandwiches are all pretty much the same. The chocolatey wafer offers the same dark cocoa flavor of an Oreo, and yet it's got a cake-like consistency that always seems to stick to your fingers (and teeth). These sandwiches are nostalgia at its finest. But Target's version is downright magical, because the wafer somehow manages to be both soft and crispy at the same time. Seriously! Just imagine a traditional ice cream sandwich but the wafer stays subtly crispy and firm on the outside. It doesn't stick, it's even a bit salty, and it still yields into a soft cake-like texture the moment your teeth crack through that thin exterior. Running through the chocolate ice cream inside is swirls of chocolate syrup, for an intensely chocolate experience.
This cotton-candy pink ice cream tastes faintly of Froot Loops, while the baby blue ribbons of "blue raspberry" pack a tart punch akin to Cap'n Crunch Crunch Berries dosed with Sour Patch kids. The frosting swirls tasted far more like marshmallow, which reminded us a lot of Lucky Charms. And so really, this completely unnatural frozen confection is like the best sugary cereals all combined into ice cream form. As my teenager said through heaping mouthfuls, "This is so dangerous." Our one disappointment was that the "glitter" on the bits of candy were more like embedded sprinkles, not sparkles. But we were too busy digging for those blue raspberry ribbons to quibble.
Any other frozen treats at Target that you absolutely swear by? Tell us about them in the comments below!