[Note: Disneyland doesn't actually run the California Churro Cart. The ice cream sandwich is still pretty horrible, though]
The Churro Ice Cream Sandwich at Downtown Disney is served with a napkin, a spoon, a knife, and a fork. That should be your first warning.
Standing in line at the California Churro Cart in front of the Lego Store, you'll feel a little uneasy. You'll see the stacks of hockey puck-esque rolled churros sitting in the display case distinctly without ice cream between them -- your second warning. The people ahead of you ordering the sandwiches will walk away with two separate containers, one full of vanilla ice cream scooped from a cooler that sits to the side of the cart and the other containing two churro wafers, re-dusted in cinnamon and sugar after being removed from the display case by the always exceedingly polite person working there.
That'll be your final warning before you step up, order, and realize that the churro ice cream sandwich might not be as good as it looked on Instagram.
That's what I felt as I walked away from the churro cart in Anaheim earlier this week holding my own two containers full of sweets. Only moments before I was so excited, but by the time I reached a concrete planter that I could sit on, my mouth had mysteriously run dry. And for good reason, because the churro ice cream sandwich was the most disappointing thing I'd ever eaten.
You've probably seen the ice cream sandwich on Instagram or Reddit or somewhere else on the Internet in a photo much like the one that starts this article. In those pictures, it looks so magical, and unable to smell or taste, your brain just kind of fills in the rest of the details.
Of course it'll be good, you think, it's cold sweet ice cream sandwiched by two warm sugary churro disks. It'll be creamy, crunchy and soft all at once! And warm and cold! Like a Milky Bun, but maybe even better.
But none of that is true.
First off, you have to put the ice cream sandwich together by yourself. You don't get the thing nice and pre-made, no, you get the pieces separate, and it's up to you to figure out the best ways to put them together. It's a small annoyance, maybe, but as all of you know, toys are always less fun when assembly is required. I just want the thing in the front of the box (or in this case, the cart), I don't want to go around looking for batteries and an allen wrench.
And assembly is a real pain when it comes to the churro ice cream sandwich. The disks are perfectly flat, with no reservoir at all for the already melting ice cream to call home (the first time I ordered, I got a container of completely melted ice cream. They replaced it though). If you don't hurry, by the time you're done scooping and stacking the ice cream will have already started leaking through the seams of the bottom churro plate.
When you finally are finished, eating the thing is even worse. Because Disneyland's churros are baked, they're a little crustier than normal, which means you need to bite harder. Normally, this isn't much of an issue, but when you're biting against something soft like ice cream, it tends to ooze out of the sandwich. After my first bite, my hands were covered in sugary milk, and half of my ice cream had fallen out of the sandwich (into one of the containers, luckily).
There isn't really much more to say about it than that. There just isn't particularly anything redeeming about the ice cream sandwich. It completely fails as a concept and as a food. It's not the next Milky Bun; it's nothing like tempura ice cream. You'd honestly have a much better experience if you just got a regular churro and dipped it into some ice cream, but that doesn't particularly play well on Instagram or Facebook.
The last thing I held out hope for was that the center of the churro disk was somehow magically delicious, kind of like how the center of the Cinnabon is the best, but even that let me down. Unlike the core of the Cinnabon, which is nice and chewy and sweet, the core of the churro frisbee is plain, under sugared and under cooked. It was chewy, in an off-putting, I-kind-of-want-to-spit-this-out kind of way.
I'd hazard to say that it, and the rest of the ice cream sandwich, was just bad. Ice cream, sugar, cinnamon, and choux pastry all mixed up together was bad. I was unhappier having eaten it, and I didn't know that was possible.
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What a shame too, because it's so pretty and makes so much sense. And while most Instagram-perfect foods are never as good as they seem, at least most of them have some redeeming factors (Milky Buns are, honestly, just okay. What's great is the ice cream. Pop Bar? Super pretty, not super delicious, but still perfectly tasty). The churro ice cream sandwich, though? Nothing. Nothing good. Not the ice cream, not the churro, not even the napkins are enough to cover up the mess this thing is.
It's just nothing but disappointment. What a shame.