NYC’s Best (and Worst) Sprinkle-Topped Treats

Food Lists Sprinkles

It’s Pride month, which means queer people the world over are doing their best to dismantle the heteronormative, crypto-fascist patriarchy. Also, there are rainbows and butts everywhere. It’s a win-win-win. No matter what activities of queer rebellion you choose to engage in, one way to gather strength for the journey is to eat rainbows in their natural form. Which is, of course, sprinkles. Whether driven by the unicorn craze in particular or their general, evergreen popularity, sprinkles seem to be everywhere these days.

Back in March, I performed an exhaustive taste test of various types of sprinkles for Paste. Now, I’m back with a round-up of New York’s best sprinkle-topped desserts. Over several months, I traversed the island of Manhattan and the boroughs surrounding it to try as many sprinkle treats as possible. This quest, initially a project of pure fancy, soon became overwhelming.

I walked into each bakery I passed, pored over the Food Baby Instagram, and sought recommendations from food-wise friends. On weekend days, I found and ate as many technicolor sweets as I could. Commas began to look like sprinkles. So did toenails and bits of trash. I dreamt of a tentacled, nonpareil-coated delicacy and awoke with the uneasy sense that I would never find what I was looking for, in dessert or in life. I thought I had come to eat sprinkles, but in the end they ate me. Nevertheless, here is the best (and worst) of what I found.

Odd Pocket at OddFellows Ice Cream Co.
East Village and Williamsburg
The Odd Pocket contains the four major food groups: bread, ice cream, drizzle sauce and crunchies. Oddfellows has a rotating cast of ice cream flavors and toppings with which to construct your own personalized pocket. I went with kirin cherry ice cream in a brioche bun with honey caramel and sprinkles (duh) on top. After the sandwich is assembled, the whole thing is briefly toasted to create a crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside textural wonderland.

Hotline Bling Cake at Butter & Scotch
Crown Heights
02_HotlineBling_MJB.jpgPhoto by Molly Jean Bennett
Butter & Scotch, the inventive bar/bakery that requires little explanation beyond its name, has many fine sprinkle treats to choose from, including a famous birthday cake and an elusive, limited edition Negroni pop tart. In my view, though, the Hotline Bling cake is the most special of them all. Dark, sultry and salty, this chocolate monstrosity gets its crunchy finish from gold “blingkles.”

Funfetti Cupcakes (with Sprinkle Cookie chaser) at Buttah
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Excelling at classic cupcakes, cookies, and bread puddings, Buttah is all about balance. The funfetti cupcake is firm and not too sweet—the perfect base for a buttercream frosting that will knock you all the way down. I couldn’t decide between the cupcake and Buttah’s sprinkle cookie, so I included them both. I especially like dipping the cookie in black coffee.

U-be Trippin’ at New Territories
Lower East Side
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With some trepidation, I went to New Territories to try their Unicorn Parade milkshake. I know these sculptural, insta-magnet whimsey trophies (and similar ones at Black Tap and Buns Bar) are an important part of the sprinkle landscape, but I’d been dragging my feet on trying them. They’re so darn expensive! And frankly, I’m not sure I have the strength of character to order one without experiencing a deep, biblical shame. Given all this, I was relieved to discover that New Territories also has other sprinkle-topped concoctions on their menu. I tried a waffle-based item called the U-be Trippin’ and was pleasantly surprised to find that, for something so goofy looking, it was complex and not supersweet. With a pillowy ube (purple yam) waffle as a base, the dessert features earl grey ice cream and is topped with condensed milk drizzle, whipped cream, an animal cracker and flakey rainbow sprinkles.

Sprinkle Doughnut at Doughnut Plant
Multiple Location in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens
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This tiny treasure is not technically in Doughnut Plant’s regular lineup (I found it at Choice Eats) but I thought it was worth mentioning. The only thing that can improve a glazed cake doughnut, after all, is smattering of pastel decorettes.

Funfetti Ring Ding at Duane Park Patisserie
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Although similar in size and shape to its namesake, Duane Park Patisserie’s take on the mass-produced chocolate snack cake is a much deeper delight. The outer chocolate shell is thick and substantial; it cracks when you bite into it. The cake and cream center is all softness with a hint of marzipan.

Cereal Milk Soft Serve with Sprinkles at Milk Bar
Multiple Locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan

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Milk Bar has a number of celebrated birthday cake treats to choose from, but I went the relatively low-key soft serve route. The sprinkles at Milk Bar deserve special mention: as someone who has tried many a decorette, I can say with confidence that these are extra crispy and hardly waxy at all. I reached out to Milk Bar to ask if they made their sprinkles in house—they do not. They declined to disclose their supplier.

Funfetti Cake Pop at William Greenberg Desserts
Upper East Side
The cake pops at William Greenberg Desserts are a different creature entirely from the twee, spherical variety that cropped up at Starbucks and everywhere on Pinterest a few years ago. These popsicle-sized behemoths are so gooey that it’s hard to tell where cake ends and frosting begins.

Rainbow Bagel with Funfetti Cream Cheese at The Bagel Store
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We need to talk about the rainbow bagel. Or more accurately, we need to talk about the funfetti cream cheese it’s typically paired with. Alone, I found the viral bagel inoffensive. It’s visually stunning, yes, and tastes like a slightly sweetened plain bagel. But the funfetti cream cheese? It made me feel ill. As far as I can tell, it’s made by combining funfetti cake mix with plain cream cheese. The resulting substance manages to be both grainy and gloppy. It’s excessively sweet with no redeeming flavors. For a novelty product, it doesn’t even look very nice. One might ask, “Why would you order this, Molly, if it looked like unicorn vomit? What poor decisions have you made in your life to bring you to this moment?” To which I would respond, “Those are fair questions.”

Butter Cookies at Catania Bakery
It’s true that butter cookies dipped in chocolate and sprinkles can be found in Italian American bakeries all over the city, but I find that Catania in Ridgewood serves up a particularly pleasant iteration of the classic. The raspberry jelly center is perfectly tart against the dark chocolate, and the whole cookie has just the right crumble.

American Globs with Sprinkles from Big Gay Ice Cream
Multiple Manhattan Locations (and roving trucks)

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Big Gay Ice Cream is known for their elaborate soft serve dips with saucy names. American Globs, which features hefty pretzel chunks, is my favorite. I added sprinkles, naturally. Altogether, the experience of eating this treat is like biting into a delicious chocolate bar to find that there’s also ice cream underneath!

Fluffernutter Do with Seasonal Sprinkles
Greenwich Village
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There’s definitely an audience for the cookie dough dining sensation, but I am not it. Yes, I waited in the line that extends across the street and down the block. Yes, I felt like a fool. I love peanut butter, so I tried the fluffernutter flavor. I enjoyed the first bite, but I had no desire to continue eating the sticky, greasy substance. Like most reasonable people, I believe cookie dough is best when snuck from the mixing bowl in small doses, not consumed liberally in the stark light of day. Still, I felt a perverse respect for the man in front of me in line who ordered a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough between two chocolate chip cookies.

Molly Jean Bennett is a writer and multimedia producer based in New York City. Her essays, poems, and strongly worded letters have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Atlas Obscura, VICE, and elsewhere.

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