Is There A Difference Between Dreamsicles And Creamsicles?

Creamsicles and dreamsicles are two iconic summertime treats that are often mistaken for one another. While they may seem identical at first glance, there are subtle differences in their composition and branding that make them distinct from one another. What exactly makes them nuanced yet still equally delicious? 

The first distinction between the two is more on the technical side. Creamsicle is a registered trademark under the Unilever group. If it's not a true creamsicle, the ice pop is often sold as a dreamsicle. This designation protects the sacred creamsicle name against imposters and ensures that if a customer buys a creamsicle, it will only be under the recipe that the original company developed.

The other difference requires the ingredients of the frozen treats to be explored. Creamsicles are made with a layer of ice cream that's surrounded by a delicious coating of orange sherbert. Dreamsicles, on the other hand, have the same tasty outer layer but are filled with ice milk instead of ice cream. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it definitely affects the taste and texture of the creamy bars.

Creamsicles are made with ice cream while dreamsicles have ice milk

The difference between ice cream and ice milk is largely based on the fat content. According to the USDA, one requirement for a frozen treat to be classified as ice cream is that it must contain at least 10% milk fat. Ice milk typically contains a lesser amount, often between 2% to 7% milk fat, making it a lighter option with less decadent characteristics. Despite this regulation, a 1994 rule change allowed for ice milk to go by the name of "low-fat ice cream" (via Chicago Tribune). This means that creamsicles have a higher fat content than dreamsicles with their ice cream center, but dreamsicles can technically claim to be made with low-fat ice cream in some cases.

Regardless of what you call the creamy center, the difference in fat content affects the texture and flavor of the two treats. Creamsicles are creamier and richer, while dreamsicles have a lighter and less rich taste. The frozen desserts may have subtle differences, but you can still reach for a creamsicle or dreamsicle and expect to bite into a refreshing and delicious orange treat.