Review: Fruit Roll-Ups With Ice Cream. This Strange Combination Is Weirdly Wonderful

TikTok doesn't hold back when it comes to bizarre food challenges. The Fruit Roll-Ups Ice Cream Challenge is a prime example of viral culinary creativity the world's favorite social media app specializes in. The Internet is obsessed with a concoction that blends the strange taffy-like chewiness of fruit-adjacent candy and old-fashioned ice cream, transforming the combo into a crunchy dessert snack that out-sciences molecular gastronomy. TikTokers are wrapping ice cream in Fruit Roll-Ups to create cold candy burritos. There's a sweet fascination with the way the chill of the cream causes the soft leathery Fruit Roll-Up to crackle that's so satisfying.

The challenge is so enticing that it's inspired some folks to try smuggling Fruit Roll-Ups into Israel. As TikTok has done with so many other marvelous things, the video-sharing giant became the word-spreading vehicle that turned simple sweets into a must-try mash-up. But how does this crisp and gooey goodie with notes of '90s nostalgia and a heaping helping of sugary inventiveness taste in the real world? And could it really be worth risking a smuggling charge just to try it? We hit the grocery store and took to the kitchen lab to find out just what it is that makes this super-sweet treat so spectacular.

The ingredients are simple: Fruit Roll-Ups and ice cream

The name of the challenge is self-explanatory and leaves room for a slew of fun interpretations by sweet treat lovers of all tastes. Fruit Roll-Ups roll out in fruit flavors like Strawberry Sensation, Blue Raspberry, and Tropical Tie-Dye, and there are dozens of ice cream options that pair well with the tangy taste. Fruit-forward ice cream flavors like strawberry and lemon are natural matches, perfect for keeping the creamy zing beautifully balanced. Standards like chocolate, cake batter, and chocolate chip add a bit of flair that jazzes up the simplicity in a tasteful manner. And of course, sorbets and sherbets are a perfect fit, ramping up the icy fruit quotient in the combo.

There are flavors to avoid in this partnership, too. Peanut butter, toffee, and caramel may be too far into the realm of buttery and earthy tastes to make friends with the candy-coated brightness of Fruit Roll-Ups. More adventurous souls may take this as a challenge and go wild with combinations that seem outrageous but turn out to be a rich revelation. Part of the fun is thinking up new ways to interpret the basic formula.

Taking the challenge is pleasantly affordable

Maybe the best news about the TikTok Fruit Roll-Up Ice Cream Challenge is that it's one of the most budget-friendly food experiments on the market. A 10-count box of Roll-Ups runs in the $3 range no matter where you buy them. Die-hards may want to dive into the deep end of the Amazon and pick up a giant box to keep the good times rolling. You can find 72-packs for under $30, not the worst deal in the world if you can't get enough of this nifty novelty dessert. If you're a bit apprehensive about whether you'll like it, you can go for the smaller pack and see how it goes before investing in a larger stash.

The ice cream ranges in price depending on the brand and flavor you chose. We picked up a carton of Breyers for a cool $2.99 on sale, though the regular price was $5.99. Store-brand ice cream works just as well as major brands, which can bring the price down considerably if you're a clever shopper. The bottom line is that you can easily try the Fruit Roll-Up Ice Cream Challenge without breaking the bank.

Nutrition is a concern for this sugary dish

Don't be fooled by the word "fruit" in the name Fruit Roll-Ups. The first ingredient on the list is corn syrup, followed by sugar and pear puree concentrate. Further down the list is fructose — another form of sugar. That's three sweeteners, only one of which qualifies as fruit-based. In a 50-calorie serving there are 7 grams of sugar, 6 of which are added sugars, meaning they don't occur naturally in the fruit (per CDC). With all this sweetener, you also get 9 milligrams of vitamin C. 

As for the ice cream, well, ... it's ice cream, one of the least nutritious denizens of the dairy world. Our choice? Popular Breyers flavor Extra Creamy Vanilla, which added 140 calories and 17 grams of sugar for a single 2/3 cup-sized scoop. If all this sugar is too much for you, whoever holds the spoon rules the roll-up, so you can easily minimize the impact on your daily nutritional needs by using a smaller scoop or choosing a low-sugar or fat-free option instead. This is a treat; Nutrition isn't exactly a high priority.

We also experimented with other gummy candy-ice cream combinations

We found a combo box that contained not just Fruit Roll-Ups, but also a couple of close candy cousins: Fruit by the Foot and Fruit Gushers. This provided the chance to strap on the thinking cap and find other ways to incorporate fruit treats for a mega-challenge. First up was the original Fruit Roll-Up version, which was by far the most successful. The reason for dropping the ice cream into the roll-up is the crackle, which is much more effective when you take a bite of the whole sweet enchilada. Fruit by the Foot is essentially a Fruit Roll-Up stretched to a ridiculous length in a single strip. We had the clever idea of trying to make ice cream sushi by wrapping the ice cream with Fruit by the Fruit. This led to a similar effect as the Fruit Roll-Up but was more labor intensive. We also tried dropping in bits of the strip as sprinkles, which was not the worst way to go.

As for the Fruit Gushers, we dropped them into the ice cream as mix-ins and found out that a frozen Gusher doesn't gush. It crunches. We guess we could have predicted that.

The Fruit Roll-Up Challenge is a wild but worthy treat to try

Anyone familiar with Magic Shell, that mystifying ice cream topping that turns from liquid to solid as soon as it hits the cold stuff, will be dazzled by the instantaneous freeze factor found in Fruit Roll-Ups. The chewy candy solidifies as soon as the ice cream touches it, which makes rolling a task for quick fingers. Once completed, the shape is reminiscent of a tamale or a burrito, provided the preparer is fast enough to complete the fold before the edges become inflexible. Is it kitchen science or snack magic? It's both, actually.

So what happens when you take a bite? The cracking shell begins softening as you chew, releasing creamy ice cream to temper the tangy fruit flavor. The resulting taste is close to a creamsicle with a hard candy shell that slowly melts just enough to get stuck in your teeth. As it turns out, this is part of the fun. Having a strange homemade creation that merges two childhood favorites into one wacky invention is a voyage of unexpectedly delicious discovery that recaptures the sweet spark of youth. Just be careful with your dental work.