Choices, Choices

Last week at the grocery store I found half gallons of name brand ice cream for $2. Two dollars is my target price for ice cream (the good stuff, not that “frozen dairyesque dessert” junk) so I thought I would get some.  I began to survey my choices.  Peanut butter cup?  Peanut butter cups in chocolate ice cream?  Peanut butter cups in peanut butter ice cream with caramel swirl and bits of chocolate coated ice cream cone?  By the time I finished reading the names and descriptions of the thirty-two-flavors-and-then-some, I was feeling guilty about buying a fattening treat and about spending $2 on ice cream when I could get three pounds of apples for the same price, so I wound up leaving the ice cream aisle empty handed.

Honestly, I think if there had been fewer flavors, I would have just grabbed one and headed for the checkout.  Sometimes too many choices can be too much.

The Wall Street Journal ran a book review last week discussing much the same problem – is a big array of choices better than one or two?  Do kids really want more toys?  Are love matches really better than arranged marriages?  Based on the review, I think I’ll probably read the book.

But back to ice cream.  With flavors constantly rotating and changing and getting more complicated, do you have one go-to flavor per brand, or do you always pick and choose?  How many flavors do you think is your max to read about before you get overwhelmed?

Photo Credit: goosmurf on Flickr

24 thoughts on “Choices, Choices

  1. I definitely think we have an over abundance of choices in some things. As far as ice cream, I start by looking at prices, picking the best priced brand (but no Byrers, we can’t stand it!). Then I usually stick to one of our tried and true preferred flavors. I did get Edy’s Butterfinger, which is a limited edition and it is a new favorite here.

  2. We always stick to vanilla bean. We can use it in so many ways, it never gets boring. We can make sundaes, floats, shakes, toppings for pie or cobbler… So yeah, just plain old vanilla bean for us!!

  3. Being an ice cream lover, I usually look at most of the flavors. However, my go-to is always mint chocolate chip or moose tracks. I usually buy the store brand, because frankly it’s almost always at least as good if not better than the brand names. We have also found that the Edy’s Girl Scout Samoa is seasonal and our most favorite!

  4. I think that especially children have too many choices. It is ok to give them a few options, but every option should be a good one (i.e. would you like and apple or an orange?, not would you like an apple or apple pie?) I’m purposely trying to keep the number of toys in our house to a minimum. I find that my 8 month old becomes bored with baby toys very quickly and moves on to “real things” (furniture, pots and pans, books, etc.) We have the classic baby toys, but not much else. I’m telling people to buy him books or give him money for his 1st birthday – no more toys!

    As far as ice cream, cookies and cream is a go to in our house because my hubby and I both love it, but when the weather warms up I start to crave fruits like peach and strawberry. Sometimes we branch out if we see something particularly tempting.

    1. You’re smart to try to contain the toys early. We have tried to limit our toy collection but it seems to multiply in the night. I need to get back on top of it. is running a series about getting control of toys, if you’re interested!

  5. Breyer’s natural vanilla (with the specks) has always been my absolute favorite, but any kind of all-natural vanilla is acceptable! We grew up on with Breyer’s b/c of my brother’s sensitivities–they were supposedly the only “safe” brand back then. And I love the versatility of vanilla ice cream. Sometimes my husband wants an ice cream with stuff in it, and then I have to read all the flavors and ingredients and I do get overwhelmed then! I’m too indecisive to do well with tons of choices! But typically something with peanut butter or caramel and chocolate is fine! And if we’re making it ourselves, I love “coffee’n’cookies”!! (based on a creation at an ice cream shop that was near my high school–cookies and cream with coffee ice cream–yum!)

  6. Being from the south, I’m a Blue Bell girl. I wait for it to go on sale…although $2 a half gallon is WAY cheaper than anything that ever happens here in Miami! Also, Miami has some regional flavors (much more fruity) that I had never seen before, so at first I was a little overwhelmed since everything is new…..but since a)I’m only looking at Blue Bell (or the occasional Edy’s yogurt) and b)I don’t eat chocolate……the choices tend to narrow themselves down for me. I have a few favorites now that I pick from.

  7. My husband used to have a really hard time making decisions, even seemingly simple ones like picking out a box of cereal. He read a book called The Paradox of Choice. It really helped him understand why he was having such a hard time with decisions. Now as far as ice cream goes, we like Blue Bunny. We like a lot of the flavors and we also like the reusable plastic container it comes in. Great for storing leftovers and lots of other purposes. We also like the Edy’s Butterfinger that someone else mentioned. I didn’t know it was a limited edition, I hope it sticks around!

  8. My husband and I like different kinds of ice cream, so (usually) if “his flavor” is in the freezer, I don’t touch it and if “my flavor” is in the freezer, he doesn’t touch it. But he loves ice cream so much, he does sometimes eat my flavor because it takes me forever to eat it! 🙂 He loves mint chocolate chip or black raspberry chocolate chip. I am more of a moose tracks or cookies-n-cream girl.

    On a side note, I love hearing about people’s target prices for things. Do you have a mental list that you’d share with all of us? I’m dying to know! 🙂

    1. Oooh black raspberry chocolate chip! I haven’t heard of that one! Y’all are making me crave ice cream now!

      I do have a mental list of target prices based on the stores around here. I’ve noticed from other people mentioning target prices that things must be different around the country.

  9. I know exactly what you mean! We live in Zambia, and there are much fewer choices when it comes to grocery shopping. There was an initial withdrawl, but we now find shopping much easier and simpler. But, on our last furlough to the states? I was SO overwhelmed during my shopping! There were so many choices for everything. I think my first shopping experience was cut short because I couldn’t handle having to wade through a dozen options for every single item! Though I still got ice cream. We missed it, and the “many options” didn’t deter me too much in that department- unfortunately! We love Cookies ‘N Cream or Coffee.

    With toys I’ve tried to keep things to a minimum, but our kids were the first grandkids on both sides, so… it was a losing battle from the start! What I find works is the toys are separated into totes, and we get one out and play with only those toys for a couple weeks, then rotate. I think it’s better for their young minds to not have to “sort” through so much before being creative at play. Plus, there’s the issue of contentment… 🙂

  10. For decades, 28 was the number of flavors as that was Howard Johnson’s claim to fame. A great past-time was to go into a HoJo, ask them to tell you their flavors, and then ask for Vanilla. Then on 27 July, 1968, Harriett Robbins fell face first into a tub of vanilla and created the 29th flavor! She and her boyfriend, Harold Baskins, recognized the potential and started their own ice cream franchise. Contray to the “alphabetical” myth, he had the money, thus top billing.
    Now for reality, you can’t beat Clemson home Made Peach for flavor (also can’t get it in a store). If you have to go store bought, Rocky Road.

  11. I started making my own ice cream, just plain vanilla, with the recipe in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. You don’t even need an ice cream maker, although I want one now. I make a chocolate sauce to go on it. Can’t beat homemade!! I haven’t experimented with adding things, but I want to make cookie dough chunks for my ice cream.

  12. When Alyssa and I enter the ice cream isle and if we happen to find one of our preferred brands in the $2 range, we both each pick out a box for ourselves. The choosing process can take some time like you say, there’s so many combinations that sound really good but are so close to one another. After trying a number of these interesting flavors and achieving negative taste results, I’ve quit reading the flavors and will only choose between one of my favorites. Alyssa on the other hand still hold on to the hope that there might be that “holy grail” ice cream flavor… so we still end up creating cart traffic jams.

  13. I usually get vanilla. We can put stuff in it , put stuff on it , ect. 🙂 But I sometimes get choc and vanilla since my hubby loves chocolate. I’m not a chocolate fan. 🙂

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