by Robert Mason Jr.
A couple or three weeks ago, in the middle of National Ice Cream Month, I received a press release claiming vanilla outranks chocolate as the most popular ice cream flavor in all of the U.S.
According to a recent survey by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), the top five best-selling flavors, ranked in order, are vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.
Pecans are the most popular nut or nut flavoring, and strawberries are the most popular fruit added to ice cream.
It doesn’t surprise me that chocolate, or variations thereof, would dominate the top five. However, V-A-N-I-L-L-A? Boring.
Some people just have no taste. Come to find out, the survey was conducted by the IDFA among its members who make and market ice cream as well as members of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association, which includes operators of ice cream parlors.
Of course they’d say vanilla. They want you to buy a piece of flavorful pie or up it to a sundae. Ka-ching.
“Vanilla has long been the best-selling ice cream flavor not only because it is creamy and delicious, but also because of its ability to enhance so many other desserts and treats,” says Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs and nationally respected expert on ice cream and frozen desserts. “It tastes great topped by whipped cream and fudge sauce in a sundae, with root beer in a float or atop a warm slice of apple pie.”
They didn’t ask me. In my world, chocolate is number one. Just chocolate. No crunch, no dough, no mint, no cookie crumbs. Just plain chocolate.
I’m not alone here.
According to my own informal survey conducted in the greater Kilmarnock area, naming a top flavor proved inconclusive. Evidence suggests vanilla may be among the most popular flavors, but definitely it can’t claim sole ownership in all its crowning glory.
Turning to the local experts, Ashlynn Goode at Stevie’s Ice Cream says twist and vanilla are basically tied when it comes to a top seller. Twist is a combination of equal parts soft-serve chocolate and vanilla. If it’s any consolation, chocolate is their most popular milkshake flavor, followed closely by peanut butter.
Cheryl Dunaway at Country Cottage says chocolate is their top seller. They offer a variety of Hershey’s premium hand-dipped options. Vanilla, cappuccino crunch and Moose Tracks rank near the top, respectively.
At Front Porch Coffeehouse & Gathering Place, assistant manager Darrick Jones says their most popular flavor is black raspberry chocolate chip. The Front Porch offers Graeter’s premium hand-dipped ice cream.
At The Kilmarnock Inn, general manager Greg Griffin says homemade salted caramel is their most popular ice cream. They serve 13 different flavors of homemade gourmet ice cream crafted by Sandy Donahue.
The diversity of my survey results suggests the local market has a discerning palate when it comes to frozen dairy products.
The top five, I tell you what, are chocolate, raspberry, lemon, butter pecan and strawberry.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed resolutions designating July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.
Although the proclamation only mentioned a specific month and day in 1984, it stuck because Martha Washington used to serve ice cream to her guests and you can’t get any more American than that.
The average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year. Why settle for average, or boring? Go for the chocolate.