What is Halo Top ice cream — and why?

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What is Halo Top ice cream — and why?

So if someone were to ask you “hey, what’s the best-selling pint of ice cream in the U.S.?”, you’d probably guess Ben & Jerry’s. Because Americone Dream is delicious. And Ben & Jerry’s has been around since the dawn of time (or, you know, 1978, but who’s counting). Outside chance, you’d say Häagen-Dazs. Maybe Breyers.

But, nope, all those answers are wrong. On July 31, Halo Top Creamery announced that, based on market research data from IRI, it had the best-selling pint of ice cream nationwide.

What is Halo Top?

Halo Top is a low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, “healthy” ice cream — or ice cream substitute, depending on your worldview. Its 25 flavors come exclusively in pints, containing just 240 to 360 calories a piece, or around 60 calories per half cup serving. Unhealthy — or real ice cream, again, depending on your POV — has about 1,000 calories a pint or around 250 calories per half-cup serving.

How is Halo Top so low calorie?

Because it uses Stevia and Erythritol (a sugar alcohol) as sugar substitutes. Plus, it’s full of air. Seriously, per Fooducate, half a cup of Halo Top weighs just 66 grams whereas there are 102 grams in a half cup of Haagen Dazs.

Is Halo Top new?

Nope, it actually launched back in 2012, but surged in popularity last year when GQ writer Shane Snow decided, inexplicably, to eat nothing but pints of its ice cream for 10 days. If you read Snow’s article, you’ll discover the experiment saddled him with headaches and a lingering canker sore. Halo Top went on to see a 2500% increase in sales that year.

Why?

Ostensibly, because it tastes great. Or good. Or goodish. It really all depends on who you ask. Survey the internet and you’ll get a million different opinions. (“It’s unreal.” “It’s pretty good.” “It doesn’t taste like ice cream.” “TERRIBLE.”) Survey the PG office and consider it a sample size. My take? Halo Top is good enough to make you say “wow, that’s only 280 calories. Sure, I’ll eat the whole thing.”

And that’s actually the point.

Really?

I’d say. Halo Top hits the “healthy” real hard. That’s actually their word, not mine. It’s used ad nauseum in Halo Top’s marketing materials. Plus, the idea that you should be pounding pints at a single clip is the opposite of subtle. I mean, the calorie count is the most prominent thing on the packaging. And the banner on its website boldly declares “Save the bowl. You’re going to want the whole pint.”

So, yeah, Halo Top isn’t really selling you a pint of ice cream. It’s selling you the idea that you can eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting and not feel bad about it. Even better, gloating is encouraged. Pop a golden Halo Top and the very first thing you’ll see is a (slightly subliminal) prompt to share on social.

top_of_halo_top

Not to mention Halo Top pints, decked out in millennial pink, sunshine yellow and mermaid-hair-don’t-care, look like a Jonathan Adler store and Tory Burch bag threw up on one another.

Should I be eating Halo Top pints in one sitting?

I won’t tell you not to. Then again, I wouldn’t tell you not to eat an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in a single sitting either. (That would make me a hypocrite.) But there are two things to keep in mind if you find yourself developing a Halo Top habit.

First, Halo Top is healthy for ice cream; it’s not a dietary supplement. Second, shit’s expensive. I bought a pint of Peanut Butter Halo Top for $5.99 at the exact same time I bought a quart of vanilla Häagen-Dazs (don’t ask) for $7.99. And, remember, Häagen-Dazs weighs more to begin with. So, yeah, eating a pint of Halo Top a day isn’t exactly guilt-free for your budget.

How to save on Halo Top

That being said, if you must have your Birthday Cake and eat it, too, there are a few ways to save on Halo Top ice cream (that aren’t simply “eat less Halo Top”, though, of course, you can do that, too).

  • Comparison-shop. Halo Top prices vary, depending on where you get it from. I got mine for $6 at Foodtown, but IRI’s research puts the average price of a pint at $4.89. And, yeah, a quick online search reveals major chains like Walmart and Kroger tend to sell the stuff for less. That doesn’t mean you should drive all over town trying to find the cheapest pint of Halo Top. (You’ll just lose savings to gas money.) But make a mental note of price points during your travails to figure out where you’ll save the most stocking up. Having said that...
  • Resist the urge to buy a giant stockpile online. Sure it’s convenient, but the price point is usually on the Halo Top high side — $6.99 or even more. And that’s without accounting for any shipping and handling charges. Plus, even if you can get a deal by, say, buying in bulk your first order, you’re still practically guaranteed to go through a pint (or two) a day until you run out … and replenish. A trip to the grocery store at least adds a little friction.
  • Search for coupons. They’re out there! As are Halo Top sales. (A few extreme-couponers online suggest that, with some stacking, you can actually score pints of Halo Top for 99 cents a pop.) Do a quick search before you go on a Halo Top run to see if there’s a printable coupon or discount code that can save you a buck or two.

Having trouble staying on the money? You can find 3 ways to fix a broken budget here.

Image: Halo Top Creamery