By Rieva Lesonsky
“Summertime—and the living is easy.” Well, these famous words from the musical “Porgy and Bess” might not reflect how many small business owners feel about the upcoming season (summer starts tomorrow), but if you’re an ice cream entrepreneur, this could be, as another Broadway ditty goes, “the start of something big.”
USA Today has declared this to be the summer of “wacky” ice cream, and predicts businesses large and small will be offering up crazy frozen treats. The thinking behind offering these nontraditional flavors or and shapes is to get customers talking. As Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, told the newspaper, “The goal is to get people in the door, thinking it’s cool.”
Ice cream franchises are riding the wacky flavor wave by creating things like:
- Sushi ice cream cupcakes (Marble Slab Creamery)
- Watermelon chip (Baskin Robbins)
- Candy Shop Blizzard (Dairy Queen)
But USA Today also found some original takes on ice cream from small ice cream entrepreneurs like New York City-based MilkMade Ice Cream, which is introducing a “Pop-Tart” inspired ice cream sandwich.
Perhaps the most interesting take on the frozen dessert is the Ice Cream Brrrger from Carl’s Jr. The chocolate ice cream, sandwiched between sugar cookies, looks like one of the franchise’s famous burgers. The Brrger is being tested in Orange County, California, which (luckily) is where I live, so in the name of research and reporting, I promise to try one and get back to you.
Unusual ice cream flavors were not born in the summer of 2012. This journey beyond vanilla, chocolate and strawberry started several years ago when grown-up artisanal ice cream starting cropping up in the fleets of gourmet ice cream trucks riding through the country’s biggest cities.
Several of the trucks were so successful, the entrepreneurs have branched out and opened ice cream shops as well. One such success, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, now also operates the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, both in New York City, where their soft-serve ice cream is topped with exotic toppings like wasabi pea dust, Dulce de Leche, olive oil and sea salt.
This trend is not likely to melt away (sorry!) anytime soon, so if you sell ice cream, operate a restaurant, or are still dreaming about it, think about all the ways you can make people scream for ice cream.