There comes a point in every kid's life when he has a revelatory Summer moment: in lieu of asking Dad for cash and running after the ice cream truck (exhausting), he realizes he can freeze his candy bars (efficient)! Of course, Snickers caught on to this trend and started making ice cream bars, but nothing beats the simplicity of the original. So in the spirit of Summers past, we staged the ultimate frozen candy bar showdown -- and the best part? Everyone wins.
To do it, we asked our Dads for money. Thenwe bought two of every popular candy bar in the store,froze one, and kept the other at room temperature. Then we tasted 'em both and decided once and for all which frozen one reigns supreme. Here's what we found:
Room temperature: Salty. Chewy. Peanuty. Not a whole lot of candy in this candy bar. Frozen: The frozen PayDay is so hard that Willy Wonka could’ve built his factory out of it. It is impenetrably chewy and has absolutely no give whatsoever. Not recommended for people who like their smile the way it is currently. Winner: Neither. PayDay sucks.
8. Milky Way
Room temperature: I’ve always thought of Milky Way as Snickers’ less cool, younger brother, and that stands up to scrutiny. There’s just something lacking -- Snickers has peanuts, but, here, there’s nothing to break up the gooey textural monotony. Don’t get me wrong; it’s good, just not great. Frozen: Chewier than the room temperature version, to be sure, but that’s really all that differs. Whereas some of the other caramel or nougat centers became crispy and brittle when frozen, Milky Way just became a bit sludgier. A bit of a disappointment. Winner: Room temperature. Warmer nougat means a smoother ride.
7. Kit Kat
Room temperature: The slight meltiness of the chocolate here works to the wafer’s advantage. Kit Kat is one of my favorite candy bars because of its simplicity, and, at room temperature, it's just about perfect. Frozen: Unfortunately, the ingredients feel more isolated in frozen form, and the brittleness of the wafer when it is so cold makes it feel altogether less substantial, like there’s nothing to it. I can feel the air a lot more, which would be a nice thing if we were in Spaceballs, but we're not. Still a pleasurable eating experience. Winner: Room temperature. Keep your Kit Kats outta the freezer.
6. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Room temperature: Standard meltiness on the peanut butter. Velvety consistency. Frozen: You can better notice the powderiness of the peanut butter formula here, but the package still works as a whole -- in fact, the colder peanut butter actually tasted richer for some reason, and made me crave a glass of milk. It should be noted, too, that with the frozen Reese’s cup I got a perfectly clean separation from the wax paper. Beautiful. Winner: Either. Reese's are always good, no matter the temperature.
Room temperature: The mint is refreshing and jelly-like, and I’m just now realizing that this is basically a giant Junior Mint. A Senior Mint, if you will. Frozen: I had high hopes for this one, and reality stood up to them relatively well. The frozen version resembles a hockey puck in a weirdly appetizing, wintry-themed way. The chewiness of the frozen version makes it feel almost like a frozen Thin Mint, which is awesome if you’ve ever tried that. The mintiness and the coldness make me feel clean for some reason... I might not even have to brush my teeth tonight! (But I will, or else Dad won't give me my allowance.) Winner: Room temperature. Frozen is good, but nothing beats the texture of the mint when the pattie's been out for a while.
4. 3 Musketeers
Room temperature: The pillowy nougat center of the 3 Musketeers is well-suited to room-temperature eating. I never quite knew what it was back in the day, but it was always a solid last-minute impulse buy at the pharmacy counter. Frozen: The freezing process made my 3 Musketeers denser, but it didn’t have the same solidifying effect on it that it did to PayDay -- in fact, it was pretty damn good, with a creamy consistency that reminded me of frozen custard. A good call on a warm afternoon. Winner: Room temperature. The nougat-y center is best when it's slightly warm.
Room temperature: To me, Butterfinger is a polarizing candy bar. Sure, it’s got an interesting, semi-peanut-y taste (that actually reminds me more of the Middle Eastern dessert halvah than anything else), but it also sticks to your teeth like no other. Brittle, flaky, and almost adhesive in texture. I could take it or leave it. Frozen: Waaaay better frozen! When this sucker’s at room temperature, you’re at risk of not being able to get it off your teeth for days. But frozen, it becomes fully realized -- the butter flavor really soars, and it’s legitimately crunchy, like your aunt who lives in a shack in Vermont. It breaks down when you bite it, becoming little nuggets of peanut-tinged nougat. I’m a big fan. Winner: Frozen. Butterfinger was a hugely pleasant surprise.
2. Almond Joy
Room temperature: I’m biased here, because I love Almond Joy. They bring me what could be described as “Almond Joy joy”, a term I am now coining and submitting to the Oxford Dictionary. Or the Urban Dictionary, if Oxford rejects me. The coconut is so tender and the almond provides the perfect amount of nutty crunch. I'd go for these over any of the other candy bars unfrozen, for sure. Frozen: The piña colada of candy bars proves itself a contender in the frozen arena -- coconut is great when chilled, and the candy bar experience is elevated to a much more refreshing status than I’ve ever experienced. Granted, I know not everyone loves coconut as much as I do, but the tropics’ reliance on it as a hot day go-to beverage should count for something. Winner: Both. Almond Joy is equally enjoyable frozen or at room temperature. It's a... uh... delight! Yeah. That.
Room temperature: Snickers has a lot going on texture and flavor-wise at room temperature -- salty peanuts, gooey caramel, and flaky milk chocolate. Given that its cousin is the standard-bearer of candy bars-turned-ice cream treats, it should be interesting to see what the frozen version brings to the table. Frozen: Despite the inclusion of what I assumed would be some teeth-gluing caramel, Snickers held up in the frozen department. Whereas PayDay’s caramel was dauntingly solid, Snickers’ caramel became crunchy, and when included with the peanuts, combined to a peanut brittle consistency. Take all that and surround it with cold, chewy chocolate, and you’ve got yourself a legitimate frozen confection. There’s an obvious reason for its success. Winner: Frozen. I was surprised by how much freezing improved the texture of the already-wonderful Snickers bar. If you're hungry (GET IT?!) for a low-effort DIY frozen snack, make it this one.
Snickers came away with the victory, proving that those folks know what the hell they're doing over at Mars. It won out because its intermingling textures -- crunchy, velvety, and flaky -- were of a high enough quality at room temperature that they became something even better when frozen (just like Idina Menzel).
As for the other two that broke into the top three? You've got some solid (!!) Summertime options with Almond Joy and Butterfinger. Sure, there are already Butterfinger ice cream bars on the market, but we recommend you go DIY and throw a candy bar in the freezer. You might be surprised at the outcome.
Adam Lapetina is a food/drink staff writer at Thrillist, and probably won't tell his Mom that this is all he had to eat today. Read his musings on Twitter at @adamlapetina.