If you, like me, grew up chubby and not afraid to try out a diet or nine, then you might have an appreciation for diet ice creams. The artificial mouthfeel of a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, the frost-bitten chew of a Weight Watchers brownie parfait; each food-like in its own way, each able to convince you that it was healthier than Blue Bell. Even if your closest adolescent confidante during the summer wasn’t a carton of frozen phenylalanine, you might still have come around to the cult of Halo Top.
Ah, yes: Halo Top, the low-calorie, high-protein ice cream engineered to be mainlined by the pint without that “guilt” we all hear so much about. The frozen treat brand announced last week that seven new flavors would join its lineup. The additions to the family feature long-time-coming tastes (the sherbert-esque Rainbow Swirl, Cinnamon Roll, a Snickers clone called Candy Bar) and some more adventurous blends (Mochi Green Tea, Caramel Macchiato, Chocolate Covered Banana and Pancakes & Waffles, which sounds straight out of the Ben & Jerry’s playbook).
Foodie site Delish reports that the seven newbies will be available later this month. Meanwhile, there are 17 regular flavors currently stocked on shelves at various Austin-area grocers, just ready to convince you that eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting is good for you.
Also meanwhile, I have tried every one of those 17 (but have yet to sample the seasonal Pumpkin Pie — wait for me, my darling) and am prepared to definitively rank them, as a public service.
17. Pistachio: You arrive home from the beach. You’re tired. Salt-dried, sunburned, you reach for a cold treat, one full of protein to replenish your strength. Your spoon dips into the supple cream. A bite. As you chew, your molars grind over granules — particles, really. It’s unpleasant, an invasion of discomfiting texture into your sacred refreshment time. Is it sand from the beach that lingers between your teeth? No. It’s the ice cream.
16. Chocolate: SlimFast never tasted so good.
15. Chocolate Almond Crunch: Oh, you added nuts and tried to convince me it’s a different flavor of frozen protein shake? Delete my number from your phone.
14. Strawberry: OK, SlimFast has tasted a little better.
13. Cookie Dough: Points for effort, but the bits of solidified sugar in this are as much cookie dough as Mount Bonnell is a soaring mountain vista.
12. Chocolate Mocha Chip: I respect the ambition but find it incapable to conjure any emotional response, much like the last date I went on.
11. Lemon Cake: The Lauryn Hill of diet ice cream. Such early promise. So little follow-through.
10. Cookies & Cream: At a certain point, I don’t think you can call crumbs a “cookie” and still stand blameless in the eyes of the Lord.
9. Black Cherry: A perfectly acceptable dessert that there’s no reason to buy if they have other flavors at the store.
8. Vanilla Bean: I used to really enjoy this one, until my Wheatsville clerk told me it looks like gravy. It still tastes good if you keep your focus on the Netflix show you’re watching.
7. S’mores: Now we’re getting into the top o’ the cloud. With a “graham crunch” and chocolate chips, this is both recognizable as the flavor listed on the carton and enjoyable apart from its “diet” designation. Points off for not coming skewered on a bent coathanger that might be toxic when exposed to open flame.
6. Oatmeal Cookie: I can see this being divisive, as it’s a little less “oatmeal cookie” and more “these are oats suspended in a semisolid state.” However, the taste is a warm blanket of holiday flavor, and the oats add a nice chew.
5. Peanut Butter Cup: A gentleman who will make sure you’re back in your house before driving away. Not too fancy. Great peanut butter taste and strong in the creaminess department.
4. Birthday Cake: Of all the Halo Top gang, Birthday Cake is the one that shouldn’t work. Yet, perhaps because “birthday cake” is such a nebulous, ill-defined flavor that could mean anything to anyone, it works. Plus: lil’ confetti sprinkles.
3. Mint Chip: There is no discernable difference between this and a non-diet mint chocolate chip ice cream, perhaps because mint and chocolate aren’t that bad for you to begin with.
2. Sea Salt Caramel: Luxurious. Decadent. Rich at the bottom with gobs — GOBS — of caramel. Truly, the Mariah Carey of ice creams.
1. Red Velvet: Just narrowly edging out No. 2 is a flavor so packed, so delicious, so actually reminiscent of its namesake that it cannot be denied as the top treat on the block. A cream cheese flavor that doesn’t taste fake? Actual cake chunks of considerable size? No wonder it’s 360 calories per pint. (In case you did not know, that’s steep by Halo Top standards.)
From one person who eats ice cream for dinner to another, you can thank me later.
Far right? Swipe left
Online dating is hard enough without discovering the person you matched with across the digital abyss is a hate-fueled racist. Two popular internet romance apps are inclined to agree.
According to Texas Monthly, Austin-based Bumble and OkCupid (whose CEO is based in Austin, the magazine reports) have both taken stands against white supremacists on their platforms, according to Texas Monthly. The magazine’s Dan Solomon reports that the latter dating site banned Charlottesville protest organizer Chris Cantwell from its service for life.
“There is no room for hate in a place where you’re looking for love,” @okcupid tweeted on Aug. 17. “If any OkCupid members come across people involved in hate groups, please report it immediately.”
Bumble, meanwhile, has partnered with the Anti-Defamation League “to ensure that the dating service didn’t become an inadvertent platform for hate speech and symbols,” according to Texas Monthly, using moderators, machine learning and self-policing users to do so.
Extreme dorm makeover
For many college students, living in a dorm is a part of the experience. While some newer dorms try to outfit incoming students with trendy amenities and updated furnishings, much older dormitories often need a lot of work to go from drab to fab. Enter Skylar Bantz’s room.
Bantz, according to a now-viral Facebook post by her mother, had the help of six other people to completely transform her dorm at Texas State University.
In a Facebook message, Sheila Ybarra, Bantz’s mother, writes that her initial post had a typo and that the room makeover took 10 hours, not 20. Ybarra also said the total cost was $2,400. That amount was split between her and the parents of Bantz’s roommate, Adeline Vela. About $500 was spent on the linens and pillows.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Bantz’s room in Sterry Hall featured many affordable items from Ikea, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon. The room features matching decor for both roommates, including white bed sheets, bed netting, brick-like wallpaper, and accent pillows, curtains and a floor rug in shades of gray. Marble-patterned contact paper lines the built-in desks. Under one of the beds, white dressers and drawers hold a printer, a flat-screen TV and a coffee maker. Custom clear desk chairs bear the monograms of the residents.
On Facebook, Bantz left a comment addressing some of the questions others had asked about the web-famous room. She wrote that they used a removable wallpaper to accent the walls and desks and had rented lofted bed frames for the room. The overhead light seen in the photos was removed as well.
Feeling inspired? Bantz also posted a link to a YouTube video in which she details the items used to decorate her room in San Marcos.
— Maribel Molina, American-Statesman staff
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Catch up on the week’s viral headlines and entertainment buzz, brought to you by social media editor and pop culture writer Eric Webb. Read more at austin360.com/webbreport.