Wendy's Orange Dreamsicle Frosty Review: This Treat Is An Old-Fashioned Joy

Anytime Wendy's releases a new variation on its widely beloved and much-examined Frosty dessert, it's a reason to celebrate. This time around, Orange Dreamsicle Frosty is the chosen flavor, a vanilla-citrus blend that hearkens back to ice cream truck indulgences and soda shop delights. It's a fun way to bring vintage vibes to a modern fast food dessert that favors the dependable taste twosome of chocolate and vanilla. Thanks to this clever concoction, anyone looking for a spoonful of nostalgia to get their spring off to a tasty start can fire up their app, swing by their favorite Wendy's location, and sink their spoon into something special and new.

The rarity of a new flavor rotation in the Frosty world makes the release of Orange Dreamsicle a momentous occasion deserving of a test run. We've been eagerly awaiting the release date since we found out this treat was dropping; though not much was revealed about it before the big day, it was inventive enough to grab our attention and not let go until the big day arrived. 

Now that it's here, is it enough to cool down our heated anticipation? Or will Wendy's new orange vanilla dream leave us in the cold regardless of the weather? We grabbed a spoon, sailed through the drive-thru, and gave it a go.

Orange Dreamsicle is a vanilla Frosty with a splash of orange syrup

The base of this treat is the Vanilla Frosty we all know and love, and sometimes lose track of due to its occasional hide-and-seek status on the Wendy's menu. For the duration of the Orange Dreamsicle era, vanilla is again departing from the line-up in favor of the new kid on the block. Orange syrup imparts color and flavor, though rather than being the vibrant, neon orange of a Popsicle, the hue is an Easter-ready pastel. The color may be a nod to basketball tones at the start of March Madness, but opting for an orange flavor is definitely a hat tip to the beginning of spring. March 19 heralds the start of the new season, perfect for serving up a treat reminiscent of wildflowers in bloom.

The ingredients breakdown lists the Frosty base as a combination of milk, sugar, corn syrup, cream, and non-fat milk, plus thickeners and additives for color. There's a note that the formula also includes soy in some form in its Alaska and Hawaii locations, though there's no call-out in the ingredients list. The orange syrup that transforms this basic blend into a whole new taste trip is made of water, cane sugar, citric acid, and natural flavors. There's no mention of orange extract or juice, however, so "natural" can mean a lot of things. The bottom line: It appears that no one at Wendy's is busy squeezing oranges to make these Frostys.

The price for this new treat is business as usual

With pricing in line with other Frosty selections on the menu, Wendy's isn't making you shell out any more for this seasonal sensation than you would for any other Frosty from the standard line-up. This makes it even more enticing to give this special creation a test run. At our location, we could spend $1.49 for a Junior, $2.29 for a small, $3.49 for a medium, and $4.69 for a large. Though these prices may vary across the U.S., they're roughly equal to the price of a chocolate Frosty.

The no-price-change model is the same approach Wendy's has taken when launching its other novelty flavors, which we think is a sweet way to show appreciation to loyal customers while making the new treat monetarily enticing enough to win over hearts and taste buds. The pricing also reflects cups of the same size as the original flavors, so there's no giant special edition serving to force you into buying more than you might want. It's all fair and square from both sides of the cash register.

It's not clear how long Orange Dreamsicle Frosty will be in bloom

The sweet secrecy of Wendy's special edition Frosty flavor roll-outs makes a mystery out of every release. There were rumors of an Orange Dreamsicle version dropping on March 13 circulating as early as February, though the real date turned out to be March 19 — more than a week later. Was this a flub by the marketing department? Or was it a clever ploy to stoke interest well ahead of the actual launch? Whichever it was, we were champing at the bit to give it a whirl on the earlier date, only to be told we had to hold onto the excitement for a little longer. Now that we know March 19 is the true release date, Orange Dreamsicle Frosty season has officially begun.

Mention has been made of this being a summery flavor, which is reasonable; reimagining an ice cream treat sounds as much like a mid-year promotion as one coming on the heels of winter. Though other special editions like Peppermint and Pumpkin Spice had holiday seasons to center around, no special occasion calls for Orange Dreamsicle, other than Frosty fans being hungry for something different. This currently leaves us without an Orange Dreamsicle Frosty end date beyond a vague limited time, so the best you can do is try one as soon as possible and hope that it sticks around long enough for you to have your fill.

It's one of the few official Frosty variants

With such a restricted line of flavors, the Wendy's Frosty selection remains severely limited during most of the year. Classic Chocolate, the original Frosty flavor, is the only option that never seems to leave the menu. It's the sole representative of a modest selection that made ordering easy, if not always competitive with other chains. Any alternatives so far have taken up the spot in the Frosty machine where vanilla would usually be.

Any time Wendy's releases a new variation on its Frosty is a reason to celebrate. The company is incredibly selective about introducing new twists on the classic flavors, restricted to only a handful in the past decade. You can count on one hand the shake-ups the original menu has gone through: Strawberry, Peppermint, and Pumpkin Spice. The international Frosty selection has a somewhat larger share of creative flourishes, with options like Caramel Apple and Piña Colada, but the company appears to be much more conservative in its U.S. market. This makes the Orange Dreamsicle Frosty release even more of a momentous occasion.

The nutrition facts are slightly different from other Frostys

Because the Dreamsicle Frosty is just a Vanilla Frosty with an added citrusy punch, the base ingredients and nutrition between the two are very similar. A medium Orange Dreamsicle Frosty holds 410 calories, 10 grams of fat (6 of which are saturated), and 40 milligrams of cholesterol. It also contains 200 milligrams of sodium and 62 grams of sugar, well over the recommended daily allowance of 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women proposed by the American Heart Association. For anyone sticking to a 2,000-calorie daily diet, this takes up nearly a quarter of your allotment in one order.

Though these numbers aren't particularly favorable for healthful eating, they're also not terribly different from those of a medium vanilla Frosty. One of those offers 450 calories 12 grams of fat (8 of which are saturated), 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, and 63 grams of sugar. It's a real see-saw of nutritional trade-offs to give this dreamy new flavor a try, though with vanilla out of the machine for the foreseeable future, Frosty fans can't enjoy that variety, anyway. Opting for a junior or a small Frosty might be a sensible compromise.

Verdict: It's a tasty time machine that takes you back to old-fashioned joy

It only took a sip to confirm that Orange Dreamsicle is an inspired choice for a new Frosty. Wendy's made a wise move springing this on customers for the post-winter warm-up, just when our hunger for cold treats is on the uptick. It's not the equivalent of a mashed-up Dreamsicle shoved in a cup, though. It's more subtle than that, presenting a sophisticated layering of orange and vanilla that has a natural elegance. If your frame of reference for a fruity vanilla blend is the syrupy Dairy Queen soft serve-slush combo known as the Misty Freeze, then you'll be as delightfully surprised as we were to learn that this is so much better.

It's easy to imagine a Starbucks-like generous pump of sickly sweet orange flavoring swirled into soft serve. But here, there's just enough orange flavor in the cup to give the supremely creamy vanilla base a floral essence. Moreover, the flavor is well-incorporated, so there's no jarring twist of glowing goo in the cup. There's also no tangy reference to orange sherbet. Instead, you will detect a supremely cool flavor that gives Frosty fans something a little more lively to light up their slide into springtime. It's the right treat at the right time, and we're probably going back for seconds.