The first official day of summer vacation had to start with a bang. It just had to. I have the only children in the world who were truly upset that school was over. I needed to lift their spirits and get them excited about summer. So, naturally, New Experience #24 had to involve some dessert! A few weeks ago, I saw an Apple Test Taste on Teach Mama and thought itwould be fun to try with the kids. I decided to kick up a notch in the summer fun department by making it an ice cream test taste.
My original plan was to buy every vanilla ice cream in the grocery store. However, when I was in the store, I started filling up my cart and realized that there are way more varieties of vanilla ice cream than I ever imagined. French vanilla, very vanilla, vanilla bean, slow churned vanilla, no sugar added vanilla, lactose free vanilla…. and that was just the lineup for just one brand! I stood there contemplating exactly how we could do this taste test scientifically. Should we test all the french vanillas? Should we try one brand and all of its vanilla varieties? Should I buy all 30-something varieties of vanilla ice cream that the grocery store carries?
After a few minutes of serious contemplation, I smacked myself in the head and came to my senses. I was about to do a taste test with a group of children ages 4-6. The last time I checked, this age group was decidedly picky about their vegetables but didn’t exactly discriminate when it came to any food that listed sugar as a main ingredient. So, I tossed five different types of vanilla into my cart, hoping the children would be able to discern a difference in actual tastes.
We invited a few friends to help us test. The first reason was pure practicality. I had just purchased 5 containers of ice cream. We needed some serious help eating all of that! The second reason was just for fun. We wanted to kick off the summer with a delicious play date.
The children played together while I organized the test taste. I wrote a number on the bottom of each container and a corresponding number on a dish. I prepared an empty dish and spoon for each child to use during the taste test. Once I was ready, we all headed outside into the blazing sun.
I gave out the instructions quickly. Since it was nearly 100 degrees outside, the ice cream was melting faster than I could talk. The children learned that they were going to take one spoonful of each number. We would discuss its taste before we moved on to the next ice cream.
Our discussions about each ice cream were very short. My friend recorded some of the comments that the children made, such as “regular vanilla taste”, “less sugary”, “tastes fake”, and “more yellow than the others”. The teacher in me wanted to slow the children down, have them articulate exactly what they were tasting, and make thoughtful observations. But, we were racing against time as the ice cream was quickly turning into soup. I was also dealing with excited and hungry young children. They were eager to move on to the next ice cream.
There was no clear winner in the taste test. Blue Bunny received one vote, Turkey Hill received two votes, Breyer’s received two votes, and Friendly’s received three votes (though one of those voters was strongly influenced by his peers). The only ice cream that did not receive a vote was the Edy’s Slow Churned Vanilla. Sorry, Edy, but when a low-fat ice cream is placed side by side with the full fat versions, it is pretty easy to taste and feel the difference.
Once the children determined which ice cream was their favorite, they took a bigger portion and topped it with their choice of whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and cherries. Making their own sundaes was definitely the highlight of the experience. New Experience #24 was a truly delicious way to spend the afternoon with friends. Luke and Leah have already asked me when we can test chocolate ice creams with our friends. I see that happening in the near future!