The munchies. A term often associated with the insatiable hunger that comes along with getting mega-baked – a sensation I learned a whole lot about in my teenage years. I remember those gripping moments of hunger that simply could not be stopped, and every single flavor was amplified in a way I never thought was possible. Now when I hear the term I tend to think about the great Flamin’ Hot mix of chips, or creating my own munch-able bowl of sweet and salty goodness. In an attempt to channel the epic-ness that is experiencing the munchies, Ample Hills have crafted a signature flavor baring the same name, which combines a pretzel-infused ice cream with clusters of Ritz crackers, potato chips, and mini M&M’s.
The pretzel-infused base is impressively on point. It’s creamy and smooth with just a hint of gumminess that I’m guessing comes from the gluten, and a flavor that reminds me of the tough, dark exterior of a giant soft pretzel. I know this ice cream is channeling hard pretzels, and that’s how it was made, but it speaks so truly to genuine pretzel flavor that I’m reminded of the similarities that good quality small hard pretzels have to the big soft ones, and not just little crunchy salty sticks. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact profile but you know when you taste it there’s an essence that makes a pretzel a pretzel and that essence is in shining form here. The one element I wish came through more prominently is saltiness, as the base has pretty much zero salty presence, and that’s a defining characteristic of the twisty snack that would have worked really well to liven the whole experience up.
The caramelized clusters in here are really great, and the caramelization aspect is key to keeping the crunch in tact in the frozen abyss. Little pieces of crumbly pretzel and the bigger balls of Ritz and potato chips add a great salty pop to the experience with a wonderful buttery chew. As good as these pieces are, I wish there were more. Throughout the container there were only a handful of the caramelized balls, and beyond that it was mostly small pieces that didn’t live up to the big satisfying crunch that the larger ones delivered.
The mini M&M’s don’t really work for me. While I know regular M&M’s can have a problem with hard-freezing in ice cream, the mini version seem to have nearly evaporated into the ice cream and I never got any bites with a good chocolate flavor. The color of the shell bleeds into the base and is very visually appealing but does nothing to add any depth of flavor or texture to the ice cream, which is a bummer given the less than desirable amount of clusters.
I love the innovation that went into this ice cream but the execution left something to be desired. With a name like the munchies it needs to bring a swift kick of sweet and salty satisfaction and the disappearance of the chocolate and lack of saltiness in the base didn’t give my tastebuds the ultimate thrill they were seeking. With a better mix in density and more prominent chocolate this flavor could be a true classic, but as it stands it’s just good, but still more impressive than most pints you could pick up at the grocery store.
Rating: 8/10 initially, 9/10 now (see below)
Found at: amazon.com via Ample Hills
UPDATE: after reading my review and seeing pictures, Ample Hills reached out and sent me a new pint that had much better quality control and way more mix-ins, which bumps the flavor up to a solid 9/10.