Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge

The Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge began earlier this year on a drive to St. Louis. We were with our son, Kai, and we were reminiscing about when the boys were young and how on every road trip they begged for an ice cream cone – especially when seeing a Dairy Queen sign. You don’t know how many DQ’s there are in the world until you travel with children!

Anyway, Lailan and I went on to tell Kai that some traditions never die! Even as empty nesters, we have found stopping for an ice cream cone while on a road trip makes for a pretty darn nice rest stop. It’s also our incentive to not pack the car full of junk food while we travel.


Back to the Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge. On our drive with Kai, we explained how we often stop at McDonald’s for their $1.00 ice cream cone. Hard to beat in our humble opinion. But then Lailan happened to mention her best friend in Hawaii adamantly argues that Burger King has the best cone by far! So, right then and there the Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge was born. Somewhere between Kansas City and St. Louis, on that fateful day, we decided to taste test the McDonald’s and Burger King cones.

We decided the test should be not who has the best ice cream cone, but who has the best overall value cone. It’s a simple value equation. Taste + Availability + Size + T-Bills Required + Yummy Factor = Maximum Ice Cream Cone Value or TASTY Rating as we like to call it.

We began the search by setting the bar surprisingly high at…drum roll please…McDonald’s. Yup. Here’s our TASTY Rating:


Taste: Smooth, solid vanilla structure, creamy and downright yummy.

Availability: Duh, everywhere. Unless you get the “uh, we’re so sorry. Our ice cream machine is currently broken.” What?  Say it isn’t so!

mcdonalds-vanilla-ice-creamSize: 3” extension beyond top of cone. Can be inconsistent based on ice cream machine operator. Expert tip: egg them on, cheer them on, ask them to break their cone swirling personal best. It works!

T-Bills: $1.00 in most locations. We’ve occasionally found cones for $.50 and that always blows the MICCV out of the water.

Yummy Factor:  Super dee duper yummy. Very subjective rating system we have here!

Overall TASTY Rating:           9.0 on a scale of 10


However, after sharing our McDonald’s success with our good friends in Hawaii (experts in all things shaved ice, ice cream, and ice in general), they vehemently argued that McDonald’s rival, Burger King, had the best ice cream cones. So, we excitedly took on the challenge, jumped in the car, and made our way to the nearest Burger King. Here’s our TASTY rating for the King:


Taste: Smooth, creamy, but our sample tasted a little funky. I hesitate to describe it as sour, as that would be super gross, but it didn’t seem to match the McDonald’s cone.

Availability: Also found on every corner in America. We did come across “we’re sorry, we’ve been waiting for a part for two weeks,” at one BK location. So much for “just in time” logistics!

bk cone1

Size: 2-3” extension beyond top of cone. Slight “cone lean” to the side and that tends to lessen the enjoyment just a bit!

T-Bills: $1.00 in most locations.

Yummy Factor: Refreshing, slight hint of vanilla bean extract with a bouquet of crispy cone wafer flavoring.

Overall TASTY Rating: 8.0 on a scale of 10

With Summer 2018 just beginning, we all have time to scream for ice cream, and to find the highest TASTY Rating! Think Beyond the Nest has McDonald’s in the lead so far, but we’d love to hear from all of you. Let’s hear from DQ fans. Does Wendy’s Frosty qualify as a cone? What other cones rank high on the TASTY Rating? Check out our Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge Poll on our Facebook page.

Enjoy your summer and an occasional sweet treat along the way! Say yes to the ice cream test!


4 thoughts on “Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge

Add yours

  1. I love this SO much!! You both are so much fun! Personally I am a hard pack scoop ice cream fan and love to try to find those BEST places in town that make the best hard serve ice cream cones!
    As for my hubby…you know he is a DQ man from way back 😂!!


    1. Thanks for the great comment! Let us know your favorite hard pack scoop cone place! LOL about DQ. We used to get so many coupons in the bookstore coupon book. Bring on the Peanut Buster Parfait!!!


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