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Take the Milwaukee Challenge: Kopp's vs. Leon's


When we picked frozen custard as the subject of our latest "Milwaukee Challenge," our editorial staff expected the competition to be fierce. Between Kopp's and Leon's -- the two Milwaukee custard heavyweights -- how could we pick just one?

Before trying these two pints of chocolate, we even thought the custards might taste exactly the same. But boy, were we wrong. Of course, both tasted great and hit the spot, but each one of our editorial staff chose the Kopp's custard, hands down.

Here are the results of this latest "Milwaukee Challenge." Let us know your thoughts with the talkback feature at the bottom of the article.

Jennon Bell
Promotions Manager
Pick: Kopp's

When I moved to Milwaukee, I had never tasted custard and figured it was a synonym for ice cream (like bubbler and water fountain, soda and pop). I was quickly corrected by native Milwaukee purists who believe custard is the superior dessert, and insisted that if I was going to have any custard it has to be from the Custard Kings: Leon's or Kopp's. Luckily for me, I was a still a custard virgin going into this challenge, so prior bias wasn't an issue.

The Leon's custard was thicker, and had a maltier flavor. It felt like congealed pudding saturating my tongue. The bittersweet aftertaste made my teeth feel sticky and gummy.

I liked Kopp's for the creamy, rich taste and sweet aftertaste. It was smooth and liquidy but not too melty or gloopy. The rich chocolately taste was sweeter than the Leon's and overall, the better treat for my preferences.

Julie Lawrence
Staff Writer

Pick: Kopp's
Wow. Who knew that custards could be so different? To my surprise, comparing Leon's to Kopp's chocolate custard seemed more like comparing custard to frozen yogurt. The differences were astounding.

While Leon's had a thick sugary taste resembling any tub of ice cream you'd find at a grocery store, Kopp's was smooth and airy, and each spoonful emphasized the natural taste of the cocoa bean. Also, I'm the type of person who prefers to avoid brain freeze by making something resembling a bowl of creamy soup out of my ice cream or custard. Unfortunately, the toughness of Leon's didn't really allow for that.

Growing up a few blocks from a Kopp's (which later turned into a Robert's), it was the custard of my childhood, and as a result, I guess I've always favored it. But would I still eat Leon's? Of course! Just not right after a cone at Kopp's.

Molly Snyder Edler
Staff Writer
Pick: Kopp's

Being more of a "salt" person than a "sugar" person, I didn't think I had strong preferences either way, but wow, was I wrong. The Kopp's custard, for me, was velvety smooth, creamy and had a natural taste of cocoa. The Leon's custard, although still good, reminded me of a supermarket ice cream, meaning the flavors tasted more artificial, and I imagined it atop a store-bought ice-cream cone. (I hate how those are often broken in the box. Such a buzz kill!)

The Leon's had more aftertaste -- a strong taste of chocolate -- but this didn't win me over. The Kopp's custard had a lingering aftertaste without a strong lasting flavor, but it was just enough to make me crave another bite. Once again, less is more.

As I have gotten older, I much prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, and I feel Kopp's is closer to the "dark chocolate taste:" less sweet but more satisfying. All in all, I found the Kopp's to be the Godiva of the custard world, with the Leon's being the respectable-but-less-gourmet Hershey's.

Bobby Tanzilo
Managing Editor

Pick: Kopp's

Before today I never thought I preferred any custard place, really. I usually enjoy almost anyone I go to. But compared side by side, the Kopp's custard is superior in most every way. It's more chocolatey, smoother and with a nice chocolate finish. On the other hand, the Leon's custard, which is much denser (although that's not a problem), tastes more of milk than of chocolate and the flavor fades quickly. There was, however, an almost almond-y flavor, too.

I'll probably still go to Leon's, too, because the drive-in experience is so much a part of it. And on it's own, I still enjoy the custard.

Andy Tarnoff
Publisher

Pick: Kopp's

Going in to the taste test, I expected the two custards to taste about the same. Both hit the spot on a hot summer day. That said, I chose Kopp's on every category. I immediately noticed that Kopp's had a more cocoa taste, unlike Leon's, which actually tasted sort of cheap. It seemed like they were using artificial sweeteners. The Kopp's custard tasted "eggier," while the Leon's seemed more milky. In it's defense, Leon's had a more crisp aftertaste that actually reminded me of coffee.

Still the Kopp's sample was smoother and a little less sweet, and tasted like I expected custard to taste. In comparison, the airy, less complex consistency of Leon's reminded me of plain old ice cream.

Talkbacks

1912fld | Sept. 12, 2008 at 1:13 p.m. (report)

Kopp's - You're kinding - just recently I bought both Kopp's and Leon's on the same day and did a taste test. Leon's won hand's down. The texture, vanilla flavor and creaminess are what makes Leon's better. Each time I take my first taste of Leon's - it is like tasting heaven. Now don't get me wrong - Kopp's is very good, but Leon's is better. I've tried all the other custards in Milwaukee and none come close to Kopp's or Leon's.

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Howard Cohen | June 14, 2007 at 5:59 p.m. (report)

Had the chance finally to try Leon's and many other Custard places but I still have to go back to the best and that is Kopps. It is a taste that can't be beat, having said that they are all great and the consistency of Leon's is slighly better but Kopps just has that special quality about it and I will keep coming back. I am from Massachusetts and I travel to Milwaukee for family and I am such a fan of frozen custard that I keep telling everyone about the best treat in the world. Just got back from Milwaukee after eating tons of custard and I am in withdrawl and I can't wait till May 08' when we order Kopps to be shipped here for our wedding anniversary. Kopps is number one and will be hard to beat. I do predict the new one in town, Cream City Custard to do well. Kopps- Leon's -Gilles and Cream City is my order of preference

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OMCreader | Oct. 19, 2006 at 4:35 p.m. (report)

Kate said: This test was right about Kopp's for Chocolate but Leonís has the hands down greatest vanilla

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OMCreader | Jan. 13, 2006 at 4:57 p.m. (report)

Kurt said: Robert's (old Kopps location) could be the best in town. Their burgers and fries are awesome!!

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OMCreader | Jan. 9, 2006 at 5:48 p.m. (report)

SHANEKA JOHNSON said: I FEEL LIKE KOPP'S IS WAY BETTER THAN LEON. KOPP ICE CREAM IS SO UNIQUE AND IT TASTE SO GOOD TO ME

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