It makes a lot of sense that July has been declared National Ice Cream Month because, according to the International Ice Cream Association in Washington, D.C., more ice cream is consumed in July than any other month of the year.
Although vanilla ice cream continues to be the best-selling flavor, it is closely followed by chocolate in popularity. And, not surprisingly, our intrepid taste panelists are all aficionados of the latter flavor.
Chris McClendon says: "Chocolate is one of the most unique ice cream flavors because you can control the quality by the quality of the chocolate that you use. And a good tight texture is important too. It shouldn't be airy."
Jackie Fox agrees. "A cool creamy texture together with a good, robust, roll-your-eyes-back chocolate is incredible," she says.
David Lawrence insists that you can't make a "decent" banana split without one of the scoops being chocolate. But Mary Valko is a purist. "Don't dress up chocolate ice cream. Don't do anything to it," she says. "Just put it in a bowl all by itself."
Adds guest panelist Marlene Platt: "Chocolate ice cream is an all-American dessert, and there's always room for it. It can be 20 degrees below zero and you can still eat it."
We tasted chocolate ice cream from seven sources. All of them scored well. Ultimately, the panel decided the sample from Kroger Private Selection was the yummiest of them all.
Judith Harris Solomon is a Metro Detroit free-lance writer. If you have a suggestion for a product to test, or would like to be a guest panelist, contact judyfree firstname.lastname@example.org.