Scandal-Less sea salt caramel ice cream was the winner of Bliss’s low-calorie, high-protein ice cream taste test. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Summer equals flip-flops, flings, good reads on the beach and, above all, summer equals ice cream.

This week we figured we’d side-eyed those new, high-protein, low-calorie ice creams in the freezer case long enough. Exactly how bad were they? Because at 300 calories or so per pint, they had to be bad. One assumes. OK, we assumed. We assumed all over the place.

But that is not the way one writes a shopping column. Or finds a new favorite ice cream.

It was time to break out the expense account and put them to the taste test.

And, yeah, maybe also go for a home equity loan because these little pints are pricey compared to whole quarts and gallons of traditional ice cream.

We graded them on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being a virtual happy dance in our mouths to 1 being the saddest, slowest (grossest?) polka ever.

So let’s see if they’re worth it!

We offered two ratings on most after we found ourselves at ice cream odds, and we also solicited colleagues for their 2 cents. Their takes included: “Amazing,” “Just say no!” and “Sweet as Satan.”

Just another fun, delicious day at the office.

Brand: Halo Top chocolate chip cookie dough, Walmart, pint, $3.88

Stats: 360 calories, 20 grams of protein and 28 grams sugar per pint*

Shopping Siren: A 3 out of 5.  It had a chalky aftertaste, but its flavor was otherwise nondescript and the little pearls of chocolate chip cookie dough tasted authentic. So it wasn’t particularly good, but it wasn’t particularly bad.

Bag Lady: Fairly tasteless but for the insanely sweet cookie dough mini-squares. A solid 2.

Other reviews: “The rest were all OK, with the cookie dough being my favorite (as usual). The others I image would be liked by people who like those particular flavors, or who never met an ice cream they didn’t appreciate.”

* To compare: Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream has 1,110 calories, 17 grams of protein and 99 grams of sugar per pint. So, like, whoa. Maybe we like this low-cal version more than we thought. Just add some hot fudge and you’ll still be ahead of the game.

***

Brand: Chilly Cow mocha espresso swirl, Walmart, pint, $3.98

Stats: 320 calories, 24 grams of protein and 24 grams of sugar per pint (comes packaged in two half-pints)

Shopping Siren: I love mocha ice cream and this tasted mucho mocha, so it’s an easy 4 for me despite the “ultra-filtered nonfat milk” and funny texture. It definitely could have used more of the fudgy swirl, but, really, what in life couldn’t?

Bag Lady: We left all five pints out of the freezer for 20 minutes to soften and Chilly Cow was the only one that wasn’t the better for that thaw. This was my least favorite of the group — another solid 2. If you could ignore the frothy, bubbly, melted visuals, it tasted too much like ice milk for me. Less treat, more eh.

Other reviews: “Would buy. Very espressoey.” Which we both say should be a real word.

***

Brand: Enlightened chocolate peanut butter, Walmart, pint, $3.97

Stats: 400 calories, 28 grams of protein and 16 grams of sugar per pint

Shopping Siren: Ew. And also, ewwww. Super creamy, but the chalky aftertaste killed it for me. I gave this a 2 and it should be happy for that. Granted, I am not a chocolate peanut butter ice cream fan (candy, yes, ice cream, no), so I might be biased. But still. Ew.

Bag Lady: OK, this was love. The peanut butter swirls looked and tasted like actual peanut butter and the chocolate ice cream mmm’d. This was the creamiest of the batch. A bit of an aftertaste, so a 4 for me.

Other reviews: Also split.

“Pretty good. Proteiny because of the PB taste. Rich, all right.”

“Just say no! Too salty. Too something else. …”

***

Brand: Breyers Delights vanilla cupcake, Shaw’s, pint, $3.99

Stats: 310 calories, 20 grams of protein and 25 grams of sugar per pint

Shopping Siren: Definitely a 3. Vanilla, sprinkles and a sugar substitute aftertaste. I’ve had worse. I’ve had better. I’d rather have an actual cupcake. Also one that’s chocolate.

Bag Lady: Solid 3 — it tasted as advertised, sort of like the Funfetti frosting version of ice cream, but that didn’t feel like a lot to cheer about.

Other reviews: “A definite NO.”

***

Brand: Scandal-Less sea salt caramel, Shaw’s, pint, $3.34

Stats: 290 calories, 18 grams of protein and 35 grams of sugar per pint

BL & SS: Finally, a united 5! Very smooth, no aftertaste. So. Good. Shopping Siren went to Universal Studios in Orlando not too long ago and tried their official butterbeer ice cream. This tasted more like butterbeer. Joy on a spoon.

Other reviews: None. We assume everyone was too busy eating.

***

The ultimate ice cream takeaway: Scandal-Less sea salt caramel wins this five-way race in the low-cal, high-protein ice cream war. If you’re prone to eating an entire pint in one sitting (for example, if you’re human), this is worth checking out. And digging in.

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who love a good vanilla with doggy bone swirl) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].