Let’s Make This the Summer of the Creamsicle

I have an unofficial tradition of declaring a “Sweet Treat of the Summer” around this time every year. I feel like there’s always a designated Drink of the Summer. Once upon a time, it was the Aperol Spritz, then the Dirty Shirley. I’m secretly waiting for a summer Cosmo comeback — not because it’s a drink I especially love but just because early- to mid-2000s core does feel right these days. In any case, much like a Drink of the Summer, a Sweet Treat of the Summer is meant to be more than a trend. It’s a motif, a theme, a lifestyle. Last summer, I was in my crème brûlée era (and even perfected a small-batch crème brûlée recipe with individual portions for two, which perhaps I’ll share one day!). This year, I’m going retro and simple, celebrating one of my favorite flavors from childhood summers. My Sweet Treat of the Summer for 2023 is the humble Creamsicle.

Creamy vanilla blended with bright citrus, the Creamsicle cannot be topped in terms of a perfect flavor mashup! It was my go-to order from the ice cream truck growing up, always scrounging dirty quarters out of the cupholder in my mom’s minivan the second I heard the truck’s jaunty jingle so I could get a taste of pure sticky summer. And now I’m reaching for their nostalgic taste once more. This is also likely informed by the fact that I live in central Florida now, where orange flavors are prevalent and popular.

While researching this piece, I learned there’s actually a difference between Creamsicles and Dreamsicles, though I’ve typically used both terms interchangeably. The lore appears a little complicated or a little simple depending on how you look at it. “Dreamsicle” and “Orange Dreamsicle” as trademarks have passed around a bunch, used to refer to everything from hair color to energy drinks to sweet treats. Meanwhile, the Unilever Group of Companies owns the trademark for Creamsicle (and Popsicle actually!!!!!!). There seems to be a general belief that “creamsicle” constitutes an ice cream center (makes sense, in the name) and “dreamsicle” constitutes an “ice milk center” (sure). I’m not sure why I deep-dived this or if I even arrived at any interesting conclusions, but here we are!

Anyway, yes, I will be purchasing boxes of Creamsicles® this year, but I’m also planning on channeling the Creamsicle vibe through other avenues, and you can, too! Here’s what I have in mind:

Creamsicle Milkshakes

All you need for this bad boy is vanilla ice cream and orange sherbert! Blend them together for a super simple, no frills Creamsicle-inspired milkshake. Add a splash of orange soda if you want to jazz it up, and definitely top with whipped cream.

Creamsicle Cocktails

You could definitely go simple here. I found plenty of recipes online, like this one that uses half and half, whipped cream-flavored vodka (or you could use vanilla-flavored, which I think usually tastes better), and orange juice. Try out using fresh orange juice!

But I also think this could be an opportunity to flex your mixology skills a little more and take a stab at a Creamsicle-inspired clarified milk punch. Revisit my brief beginner’s guide to making a milk punch, which includes the bones of my Creamsicle-inspired one. I also found a tutorial on YouTube.

Creamsicle Pie

There are so! Many! Recipes! For Creamsicle pies!!!! And I simply need to try all of them. Here are the frontrunners for what I’ll try whipping up this month:

“No bake” are some of my favorite words to read in dessert recipes.

Creamsicle Floats

Literally just a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of orange soda! For when you need a truly no-mess, no-prep sweet treat this summer.


What’s gonna be your Sweet Treat of Summer 2023?

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 870 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Loved a creamsicle growing up (in central FL). Also love that the No Bake Orange Creamsicle Pie recipe only has four ingredients AND you use them all up making the pie. I will be making this.

    Willing to pay for that small-batch crème brûlée recipe with individual portions for two tho! Crème brûlée is my fiancée’s favorite, and I’ve never even considered attempting it before. But I should!

  2. I don’t know if I ever had a creamsicle – the idea of mixing orange juice with milk or cream distressed me as a kid. Probably because my dad would make his version of Orange Julius out of milk and orange juice – and I just had a visceral “no” reaction to that.

    But, I do love a good mango popsicle. That may be my sweet of the summer.

  3. this could not have come at a better time. i literally voiced my need for a creamsicle yesterday at the grocery store. alas, they didn’t have any, so the hunt continues!

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