Tyra Banks makes ice cream now, but is it smize-worthy?
We dug into this supermodel-approved ice cream.
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When I think of supermodel mogul Tyra Banks, my mind immediately transports me to middle school when I binge-watched cycles of her seminal reality TV competition “America’s Next Top Model.” Banks, whose enigmatic and beguiling persona launched a thousand memes, provided not only entertainment, but a lexicon of phrases that have permeated the vocabulary of women and gay men for the last decade.
“But make it fashion,” “booty tooch,” and “H-2-T” were all uttered at one time or another by the Sports Illustrated superstar but no phrase caught on quite like “smize”— the ability to smile with one’s eyes alone.
So when I heard Banks was launching a new business endeavor called Smize Cream, naturally, I thought it would be another foray into cosmetics. I had no idea what was actually in store, or how deliciously nonsensical it would be.
About Smize Cream
Smize Cream is not a pore-tightening under-eye cream to help squint your peepers into ferociousness. It’s an ice cream chock-full of surprises, it's a creamy riddle covered in sprinkles and dry ice, if you will.
Banks told Variety in July that she’d like to build an entertainment empire à la Walt Disney and Smize Cream appears to be a step in this direction. Then there’s her long-delayed amusement park, Modelland, slated to open in California "as soon as deemed safe and appropriate to welcome all of our guests"" in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, I don’t adore ice cream. I’d rather opt for an Italian Ice or a popsicle if I’m going the frozen treat route. I am, however, a longtime fan of Tyra Banks, and that was enough incentive for me to order Smize Cream.
What it’s like to order Smize Cream online
Smize Cream can be ordered online and shipped directly to your home in build your own 4-, 6-, 9-, or 12-packs of the not-quite-a-pint containers. (That’s right, each container is just shy of the standard pint, clocking in at 14 ounces.)
Your treats will arrive in a branded cardboard box plastered with DJ Splitz, Smize Cream’s mascot, urging you to “dig, baby dig.” Inside my soggy but upright box were instructions on how to safely dispose of the dry ice that kept the contents frozen on their journey from California to Pennsylvania. I tore into the box and gingerly removed and loaded six containers of Smize Cream into my freezer next to a handle of Bombay Sapphire and a frozen Freschetta pizza.
I tried Tyra Banks’ Smize Cream and here’s what happened
The time had come for me to try Smize Cream. I hurriedly slid a spoon in my mouth and grabbed all five flavors from the freezer before waddling over to my dining room clutching five 14-ounce containers. It was like runway coach extraordinaire J. Alexander had a stopwatch and was timing to see if I could prevent frostbite while still looking modelicious.
Once settled, I mentally prepared myself to devour the most ice cream I’ve ever had. Each spoonful of Smize Cream conjured a different “Top Model” memory as I dug deep to find the “Smize Surprize,” the sprinkle-coated cookie dough ball hidden at the bottom of each container.
Salted Caramel King
If this were a “Top Model” challenge, Salted Caramel King would win it all. It’s an indulgent combination of vanilla and salted caramel chunks that brings me back to a childhood spent plucking Werther’s Originals out of my grandparents’ candy dish. There’s no uniformity in terms of caramel bit size, so you might discover a large hunk of rich, hardened caramel as you try to reach the bottom.
Caramel Cookie Queen
This butter cookie-flavored ice cream is smashed together with gooey caramel and shortbread-like bits. It’s a bit sticky, it’s a bit messy. But it’s the smoothest of the five flavors I tried.
There’s so much going on with this distractingly smoky ice cream—and, no, it doesn’t contain barbecue sauce. I couldn’t appreciate the dark chocolate because was clouded by the thick charred flavor. Much like ANTM’s dreaded all-star season, I would like to immediately forget the desperate taste it left in my mouth.
Purple Cookie Mon-Star & Me
Despite my mom’s best efforts, I’ve never loved Oreos. Even in a dirt cake, I’m not really lulled into the allure of those chocolate wafers with cream. This ice cream, however, bewitched me. I don’t know if it was the purple haze of it all but by the time I looked down at the carton I’d hit the “Smize Surprize” and kept on digging.
The Best Vanilla I Ever Had
Is it really? That’s a bold statement, Tyra, but it wouldn’t be your first. The vanilla was just that: vanilla. The “fruity cereal” cookie dough ball at the bottom made this a bit more exciting, but overall this tasted like a vanilla bean frappuccino from Starbucks. Not bad, just not great.
What I like
The cookie dough surprise is delicious
The “Smize Surprize” was an inspired addition to my typical ice cream-eating experience, which is usually spent in high anxiety to finish it before it melts. This cookie dough truffle chunk is covered in colorful sprinkles and adds a unique texture to the bottom of the carton and serves as a final treat.
Each ice cream flavor is super rich and creamy
The simplest concepts are where Smize Cream really makes me melt. The caramel and cookie dough iterations were some of the richest ice creams I’ve had and I found myself pining to get them out of my freezer most of all.
Personally, I found Smize Cream easier to eat directly out of the carton instead of scooping it out into a bowl. That could be troublesome if you live with someone else or, say, 13 other people vying for the chance to become America’s next top model—but for solo diners like myself, it was no issue at all. Plus, all that digging made reaching the “Smize Surprize” at the bottom all the more satisfying.
What I don't like
Minimum order requirements are restrictive
At the time I ordered Smize Cream, customers were instructed to order six flavors at a time. That’s a lot of ice cream for one freezer—especially since the instructions indicate that Smize Cream shouldn’t be placed in a freezer door to prevent unwelcomed crystals. Two flavors, “Brownies, I Love You” and “Strawberry BirthYAY Cake,” were unavailable, which meant I had to double up on something else.
Some of the ice cream names were missed opportunities
Much like Trya’s late-stage additions to the "Top Model" dictionary, the campy names of these flavors need some work. There was a serious missed opportunity to make a “Vanilla, But Make it Fashion” or “ANTM Chocolate” or “Boom Boom Boom Brownie.” The introduction of DJ Splitz lore and music-themed imagery is befuddling but expected because Tyra cannot and will not be tamed.
It’s a lot more expensive than grocery store ice cream
With a $13 per container price tag and an order minimum of four per box, you’re looking at spending more than $50 on premium ice cream alone. And don’t forget a flat shipping rate of $24.95 per box—that dry ice and cardboard doesn’t pay for itself.
That said, this pricing is comparable with other online ice cream delivery services we tried, like the Signature Ice Cream 4-pack of Malai Ice Cream from Goldbelly ($89 plus free shipping).
Is Smize Cream worth it?
If you’re on the hunt for a peculiar but tasty collection of frozen treats, Smize Cream could be worth the investment for you or the "Top Model" fan in your life. It combines the mix-in pleasure of a Cold Stone Creamery treat with the perplexing lore only Tyra could provide. Though it has a hefty price tag, the novelty of getting a box full of ice cream delivered to your door is super sweet. If I was visiting Los Angeles, I would just visit the beachside Santa Monica Smize Cream flagship shop to pick up a cup of Salted Caramel King and strut down the boardwalk.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.