To be 100% honest, I had never tasted an icebox cake until last week. I didn’t even really know what they were. I’ll admit it, I only jumped on the bandwagon after seeing icebox cakes in the news. But with my first cool, creamy, crumb-filled chocolatey bite, I was hooked.

Let me explain. First, we need to define some terms. An icebox is basically a non-electric refrigerator that keeps food cold with, you guessed it, ice. Icebox cake is a (very delicious) refrigerated dessert made with whipped cream and wafer cookies. The cool no-bake cakes became popular in America in the 1920s, when appliance companies were attempting to promote the use of iceboxes in home kitchens. At the time, there were no electric refrigerators, so the only way to make such a dessert was with an icebox. So basically, icebox cakes are the air-fryer chicken wings of iceboxes.

For almost their entire 100 year history, American icebox cakes have been largely defined by Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers. Sure, there were variations and alternatives, but Nabisco’s chocolate wafers were the platonic ideal. Some would go so far as to say Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers were to icebox cakes as Nabisco’s Nilla Wafers are to banana pudding. But this spring, to the horror of icebox cake lovers across the country, Nabisco discontinued their classic chocolate wafers. Would icebox cakes ever be the same? Maybe not — but they might be better.

Of course, change is hard, and some people are so attached to the classic wafer that they're now selling for $999 a pack. But if you aren't quite ready to spend almost a grand on a single package of cookies, let me offer you an alternative. A few weeks ago I (okay, my mom) made an icebox cake with a Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafer dupe: Dewey’s Bakery Brownie Crisp Cookies. Now to be fair, I can’t compare the Dewey’s version with the Nabisco wafer version because I’ve (tragically) never tasted it. But I can confidently say the resulting cake was incredibly delicious. The dark chocolate wafers were perfectly bittersweet, their flavor amplified from soaking in sweet, airy whipped cream.

Maybe the exodus of Nabisco’s chocolate wafers is actually a good thing for icebox cakes. It opens up a world of wafer possibilities that were previously overshadowed. What about gingersnaps and lemon zest? Oreo Thins? Graham crackers, Nutter Butters, Biscoff cookies…I could go on. Icebox cakes are in their experimental era, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

So in conclusion, you should make an icebox cake for Labor Day. It’s perfect because you can prepare it in advance, stick it in the fridge, and forget about it. Then you can focus on having a fun time grilling, and dessert is ready whenever you are. In fact, the longer you wait, the better it gets. Here’s my mom’s recipe (adapted from this version by Serious Eats). We lined the container with plastic wrap, but in our opinion this actually made it messier and isn’t really necessary (as long as you use a clean pan or container). 

Dewey’s Icebox Cake

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:4 hrs
  • Total Time:4 hrs 15 mins
  • Servings:12
  • Easy


  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 9-ounce package Dewey’s Brownie Crisp Cookies
Moriah House
  • Step 1

    Whip the heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

  • Step 2

    Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the bottom of a loaf pan or similarly-sized plastic container.

  • Step 3

    Layer chocolate wafers (vertically or horizontally) and whipped cream to fill the pan/container, making sure to fill the cracks with the cream.

  • Step 4

    Refrigerate cake overnight (or at least 4 hours), serve like banana pudding, and enjoy!

    Moriah House