Grandma McFlurry Review: It's Like McDonald's Raided Your Grandma's Candy Jar

McDonald's has always had its fingers on the pulse of fast-food trends and viral TikTok fads — remember all the weirdness surrounding the Grimace Shake? Starting Tuesday, May 21, the Golden Arches are at it again with the release of the Grandma McFlurry, a brand new flavor of the popular soft serve treat. To launch the Grandma McFlurry in style, McDonald's pulled out all the stops by parking a never-before-seen McDonald's ice cream truck — Grandma's McFlurry Mobile — in the middle of Herald Square in Midtown Manhattan for an exclusive tasting event. Mashed was there.

The pop-up event was as much an ode to Granny culture as it was to McDonald's latest McFlurry flavor. All the excitement certainly begs the question, what is a Grandma McFlurry? The fast food titan is intentionally keeping the flavor profile specifics on the ambiguous side, but at its essence, a Grandma McFlurry is a cup of vanilla soft serve swirled with a ribbon of caramel-esque sauce and sprinkled with crunchy candy pieces. So how did it taste? Here is our take.

The flavor is up to interpretation, but it's definitely butterscotch-y

A McFlurry flavor that celebrates a grandmother's love is the definition of subjective, but in order to connect it to grandmas in some way, McDonald's drew inspiration from the hard candies they always seem to have in their possession. You know the ones — brandless, butterscotch medallions or an assortment of vaguely fruity ovular sugar lumps, twisted into squares of cellophane. Sitting in a jar on your grandparents' coffee table, you weren't sure if they were purely decorative so you tried one out of curiosity. Grandma also procured them from her purse to quell your boredom while in line at the store or as a simple gesture of affection.

Hard candy and soft serve aren't a textural match made in heaven. McDonald's knows this, which is likely why the Grandma McFlurry leans into the butterscotch candy angle rather than a fruit flavored one. The candies in the McFlurry depart from the typical hard candy texture as well — and for this we are glad. There's definitely a crunch factor, but it's more like eating bits of toffee or brittle than smashed-up hard candy. The candy pieces don't give off a lot of flavor on their own, but a caramelized sugar taste is present. This allows the candies to pair cohesively with the caramelly ribbons of sauce stirred into the soft serve. It's delicious and very sweet.

The nutrition facts are under wraps ... for now

When the Grandma McFlurry makes its official debut on Tuesday, May 21, McDonald's will publish the nutrition info on its website. Since the exact ingredients were intentionally veiled during the tasting event, getting a decisive read on the Grandma McFlurry wasn't possible. But we do know a few things.

The Grandma McFlurry (or any McDonald's McFlurry for that matter) is not a health food nor is it marketed as one. It is primarily sweet, so expect the sugar grams to be up there. The main ingredient in a Grandma McFlurry is vanilla soft serve, making it dairy-based. There are also some potential food allergens to be aware of. We observed a sign posted on Grandma's McFlurry Mobile ice cream truck indicating that the "Butterscotch Flavored Crumbles" contain milk and soy and may carry traces of peanut as well. It looks like those butterscotch flavors we picked up on in the candies and sauce were right.

It's slightly sweeter than other McFlurries

We have a major sweet tooth, so polishing off a Grandma McFlurry was something we did with abject pleasure. However, it did cross our minds that this might not be every dessert-lover's cup of ice cream. The vanilla soft serve combined with the sugary butterscotch sauce and butterscotch candy might be a sweetness overload to those who seek treats with a more distinct flavor balance.

Don't get us wrong, the Grandma McFlurry isn't veering into obnoxious Pixy Stix territory, but it's not shy about bringing three sugar-heavy ingredients into the mix. In terms of content, butterscotch is a close sibling to caramel — the main difference between them is that the former is made with brown sugar and the latter uses granulated white sugar. The ingredients of the butterscotch candies in the Grandma McFlurry probably don't depart much from butterscotch in sauce or syrup form.

Flavors like salted caramel and dark chocolate work so well in desserts because the respective salt and bitter notes tamp down the sugar and bring a rounded dimension to the overall taste. The Grandma McFlurry isn't pulling in those kinds of nuances though. By the time you reach the bottom of your soft serve cup, the flavor can start to feel a little one-note.

The Grandma McFlurry is all about memories

The McDonald's Grandma McFlurry pop-up event was an ode to nostalgia with a shabby chic twist. The branding of the Grandma McFlurry embraced a retro image of a grandmother in her 70s or 80s today, one who might have pinched our cheeks or commented on how tall we're getting before handing us a candy from her purse.

The Grandma McFlurry is served in a pastel pink cup with accents in McDonald's trademark red. The McDonald's logo is embedded in a red square bordered with lace, conjuring images of the doilies that draped much of the furniture at grandma's house. McDonald's also seems to have dipped into mid-century notions of the American Dream. While parked in Herald Square, the perimeter of Grandma's McFlurry Mobile ice cream truck was secured by a white picket fence.

Although the Grandma McFlurry plays into old-fashioned notions, McDonald's keeps one foot in the 21st century with a modernized take on emblems from the past. The side of Grandma's McFlurry Mobile ice cream truck is fitted with a sizable flat screen depicting happy, energetic grandmothers enjoying McFlurries with their adult grandchildren. Grandma McFlurry's two theme songs are fresh takes on classics. Remi Wolf covers "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)", a Motown classic originally sung by Marvin Gaye in 1964, and Jay Wheeler sings "Piel Canela", popularized by Eydie Gormé that same year.

McDonald's is not going into the ice cream truck business, but maybe it should?

The Grandma McFlurry pop-up event in Manhattan unveiled the first-ever McDonald's ice cream truck, and it was pretty awesome. The truck was painted pastel pink with red stripes to mirror the dessert's signature cup. On the back of Grandma's McFlurry Mobile is a charming note from grandma that reads "Always get dessert," signed with the same "Xoxo, Grandma" featured on the McFlurry cup. Naturally, the only item this truck serves is the Grandma McFlurry.

We have the utmost confidence that if McDonald's forayed into the ice cream truck business it would be a success, but the company has no plans to do so in the near future. This doesn't mean that Grandma's McFlurry Mobile ice cream truck is just for show. One day after the tasting event, the truck traveled to senior living facilities in nearby East Harlem and Flushing, Queens, as a sweet surprise for its residents.

The Grandma McFlurry is a limited time only item

In the grand tradition of promotional menu items, McDonald's will sell the Grandma McFlurry for a limited time. The treat is kicking off just in time for summer, but its presence on McDonald's menus isn't strictly seasonal. Instead, the company reps have said that the Grandma McFlurry will only be available while supplies last.

Rather than focus on a McFlurry that flaunts the tropical-tinged flavors of the summer season, McDonald's has launched the Grandma McFlurry as a tribute to the women who are incredibly influential and loving in so many of our lives. "Grandmas have always held a special place in our hearts, and today they're having a major moment influencing culture — inspiring trends in fashion, decor and now, even food with our newest McFlurry," explained McDonald's Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer Tariq Hassan in a recent press release.

Final impression

We are touched by McDonald's love letter to grandmothers. In addition to driving Grandma's McFlurry Mobile to senior living facilities in New York City neighborhoods, McDonald's is also marking the Grandma McFlurry's release with a donation to Little Brothers — Friends of the Elderly, a national organization that helps elders in America combat isolation and loneliness. But does the taste stand up to all this good will?

It does. Flavor-wise, the Grandma McFlurry isn't the most unique item to enter the fast food stratosphere — and it might not even end up being your favorite McFlurry flavor. Even so, fans of butterscotch (like us and probably like your grandma) will enjoy digging into Grandma McFlurry's swirls of candy and sauce. These additions are well-suited to McDonald's vanilla soft serve, but if you don't love super sugary treats (or are trying to avoid them), the sweetness factor might challenge your threshold.

We could definitely see this McFlurry being a hit on a hot summer day, but it does melt quickly (it's soft serve after all). To get the most out of your Grandma McFlurry experience, we recommend ordering it in person. Oh, and bring grandma.