Dreams Vs CREAM: The Battle of the Ice Cream Sandwich

Thursday, April 17, 2014

CREAM is a Telegraph Avenue staple, serving a big scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two freshly baked cookies for the bare bones price of $2. The line regularly extends around the corner and down the block. In January, a competitor shop named Scoop Dreams opened up directly across the street, offering its own homemade ice cream sandwiches for the same price.

Battling ice cream sandwich joints? This was an opportunity too good for The Scoop team to pass up. With special guest reviewer pediatrician Abhay Dandekar, we traveled to Berkeley to assess the competition.

When we arrived, the clash was already in full swing. Taking advantage of people’s waning patience in the stretched out CREAM line, a Scoop Dreams employee was periodically handing out buy-one-get-one-free coupons to people waiting. The trick worked—each time, a handful of people defected across the street and put their dollars down for the competitor sandwich instead.

Ever-hungry for a good deal, we got our hands on a few coupons and started our taste test at Scoop Dreams. The concept is simple: select your cookie (at the time: Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Chip) and then select your ice cream (a wide variety of Double Rainbow flavors).

We walked out with Coffee ice cream in Double Chocolate Chip cookies, Mint ice cream with Double Chocolate Chip, and a cup of the Lychee ice cream. Praise was given for a “no frills experience,” “a good, if stolen concept,” “great value for a large dessert” and “delicious soft cookie with melted chocolate chips.”

On the flip side, points were docked for cookie availability (they had run out of Chocolate Chip), ambiance (it’s oddly located inside of Rasputin Records) and the feeling that Scoop Dreams had been created without much foresight. For example, Dandekar noted the lack of branding on the ice cream cups, proclaiming, “I don’t want a Double Rainbow cup. I want something that says Scoop Dreams.”

The shop has a basketball hoop mounted so that customers can hypothetically shoot for a free scoop. When we asked the only employee about it however, she mumbled something about needing to install a protective net to prevent stray shots from contaminating the ice cream.

Co-Scoop editor Theresa summed up our overall feelings: “There was nothing about it I didn’t like, but nothing I loved.”

Scoop Dreams sandwiches polished off, we moved on to our next conquest: CREAM.  After a 15-minute wait in line (once inside the store, the line moves at a surprisingly rapid pace), we stepped outside with a scoop of Salted Caramel ice cream in between Cinnamon Sugar and Double Chocolate Chip cookies, in addition to small cups of Peanut Butter Twist, Strawberry and Pistachio ice cream.

We spread our wares out on top of a rusting newspaper stand and systematically dug in. After a disappointing taste from one cup, I moved on to sample the next flavor, hoping that there’d be an improvement. To my dismay, each bite was the same—a tasteless cold mass of saccharine, as if someone had frozen bushels of cotton candy and bewitched it into a creamier form.

I wasn’t alone. The rest of the Scoop team described what they tasted as “gummy,” “flavorless” and “it coats your mouth—in a bad way.” Even the cookies were bland and sub-par, despite looking wonderfully soft and scrumptious. After a few minutes, the scene was dismal: three largely unfinished cups of melting ice cream alongside broken pieces of discarded cookie. And four medical students looking very sick to their stomachs.

Despite CREAM’s strategic location underneath the Princeton Review (what better shop to cater to legions of hypoglycemic hostages of standardized exams?) and reasonable price, we unanimously agreed that CREAM had sold us one of the worst tasting ice creams to date and that their hordes of followers are a drone-like mass that do not possess taste buds.

The Scoop team overall learned a few valuable lessons: do not eat more than one ice cream sandwich at a time. And despite their clever marketing and fantastic concept, the ice cream sandwich shops on Telegraph unequivocally leave patrons dreaming of something more.


2399 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

(510) 649-1000

Scoop Dreams

2401 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

(510) 704-1146