Man, this review’s overdue.
Back at the beginning of the year, I sat down with my wife (not vegan, but nearly so) and my sister-in-law (straight omni with a serious dairy addiction… I’m sure she’d love that classification) to try out a handful of flavors sent down by the kind folks up at Wheeler’s.
Buzz started forming about Wheeler’s from the moment they started handing out ice cream in 2007 at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.
Here’s a compiled summary of our comments on each flavor:
This was my favorite of the bunch. It’s a really unique idea for a flavor and tastes exactly what you’d imagine pumpkin pie in ice cream form would taste like. It’s super creamy and intense. Love it, love it.
My wife liked the richness and thought it was thick, much like pie. Sis-in-law said the taste lingered a little too long afterwards, but still liked it because it wasn’t overly sweet.
Seriously: vegan butter pecan! It’s been ages since I’ve had butter pecan ice cream, but this is exactly how I remember it. Creamy, nutty… just great. Sister-in-law tasted a sourness and indicated a preference for its dairy counterpart.
My wife said, "I could eat a whole tub of this." I didn’t ask her to clarify if she meant an ice cream tub or a bathtub because I know my own preferences would have tended towards the latter.
Not normally my favorite flavor, but I enjoyed this. My sister-in-law liked this one a lot, comparing it to a sorbet. She said the sour taste she was getting with the other flavors was less out-of-place here. My wife said she liked it a lot, but missed the bits of berry. "Might have been good with bits of black cherry, too."
Pina Colada (with alcohol)
Good, but not my favorite. Nice chunks of pineapple and coconut. Not as smooth of a consistency as the other flavors. Both of the other tasters liked it a lot, ranking it among their favorites.
Double Chocolate Chip
Uber-chocolatey. Smooth and creamy with nice, small chunks of chocolate. I thought there was a very slight aftertaste, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. My wife loved this one, liking both the taste ("a chocolate lover’s dream") and crunch. My sister-in-law said it was very rich and that it "tastes like [dairy] chocolate ice cream" even though she prefers a sweeter chocolate.
Overall impressions of Wheeler’s
We’re at an interesting point with regards to vegan ice cream in the US. We’ve pretty much reached the peak with companies like So Delicious (their mint chocolate chip and pomegranate chip are awesome) and Temptation (everything is awesome), but Wheeler’s every bit as good. So, it’s awesome. And more awesomeness is a good thing.
Where I think Wheeler’s will really succeed is in their niche of custom specialty flavors. Check out some of the flavors they’ve perfected already. I’m really curious to see where they take their business and what they do in terms of distribution. Because, really, the world needs to taste their pumpkin ice cream. And I want to be able to get some at a moment’s notice.
Like, now. Now would be good.
You can visit Wheeler’s site at icecreamproject.com and keep an eye on their blog for frequent updates about tasting events around the country.