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ATK Reviews

So, how does Jeni's Everything Bagel Ice Cream really taste?

Cream cheese. Sesame seeds. Garlic. Can a bagel coexist with ice cream?
By Published Feb. 19, 2021

Not long ago, I was going through my inbox and was about to delete a promotional email, when I noticed the sender. It was from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and it announced a new limited edition ice cream that tasted like an everything bagel. (The subject line: “It’s schmear! It’s schmear!”) I was intrigued. 

The email described the flavor as "buttery streusel laden with sesame, poppy seeds—and yes, onions and garlic—schmeared throughout subtly sweet cream cheese ice cream."

Did these two food groups go together, ice cream and bagels? On one hand I love bagels—everything bagels especially. I’m from New Jersey, which along with New York is the bagel capital of the world (sorry, Montreal). When I was home for Christmas a friend stopped by to drop off a dozen bagels from our favorite bagel shop. I ate at least one bagel a day for the entire trip. What’s more, I use everything bagel spice from Trader Joe’s often, usually on my breakfast eggs. And I’m very familiar with eating cream cheese in sweet settings—red velvet or carrot cake with cream cheese frosting—delicious!

But garlic and onion? I Slacked my team members to ask for their opinions, but couldn’t come to a consensus. Some thought the cream cheese and sesame might work, even the poppy, but the addition of garlic and onion left them suspicious.

With no other choice, I placed an order for two pints. When they arrived I pried open the box and stood over the ice cream impatiently waiting for it to soften enough for me to dig in (the dry ice from shipping kept it very frozen). 

It tastes eerily similar to an everything bagel with cream cheese and also nothing like breakfast.

After what felt like hours, I took my first bite and was blown away. First I tasted sweet cream cheese ice cream with a hint of tartness. Then came the onion and garlic flavors (which didn’t taste nearly as out of place as I thought they would) and a slight nuttiness from the sesame seeds. As I chewed through a piece of streusel I tasted a bright pop of salt. The ice cream base was rich and smooth, while the small pieces of streusel and “gravel” provided chewy and crunchy variations in texture. 

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To all the doubters out there, I hear you and understand your skepticism. But it works! The flavor combination is perfection—salty and sweet like sea salt sprinkled on caramel—and the world is a more interesting place with this ice cream in it. My first pint was gone in less than three days, and though I’m attempting to savor the second pint by eating the ice cream more slowly, it’s a challenge. Every time I reach for the pint in the freezer that initial doubt sets in again. Does this combination actually work? Was it really as good as I think it was? But then I take a bite, taste the rich cream cheese, and I’m convinced once again that despite the odds this ice cream is some kind of magic.

It tastes eerily similar to an everything bagel with cream cheese and also nothing like breakfast. I’m happy, however, to have permission to scoop this delicious ice cream any time of day. 

Here’s the bad news: The limited edition flavor sold out in less than two weeks. But let it be known that we’re really hoping Jeni’s brings it back.

Top left photo: Whitestorm/Getty Images

Bagel-flavored ice cream not your thing? Find hundreds of impressive recipes and useful tips in our cookbooks The Perfect Cookie and The Perfect Cake and in these articles: