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How Ice Cream Makes Menus Epic

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With summer in full swing, ice cream sales are heating up. Across the country, Americans are scooping up this cool and creamy favorite by the cone, cup and float load.

As a country, we have such a soft spot for ice cream, we even dedicated an entire day to honor it. And while National Ice Cream Day (July 17) has come and gone, it doesn’t mean sales of this sweet staple will cool anytime soon.

As the number-one dessert ingredient,¹ ice cream offers endless opportunities to please patrons—particularly the 42% of consumers who enjoy an ice cream dessert at least once a week. From flavor to topping to style, the ice cream category is one of the most versatile dessert segments, and therefore one that provides real profit potential.

A huge benefit to menuing ice cream is its versatility. Ice cream affords an unlimited ability to personalize—a growing trend among consumers that some say is shaping the foodservice industry as a whole. Keeping classic ice creams and toppings on hand, as well as a few on-trend flavor options, will ensure operators have enough variety and flavorful flexibility to keep everyone happy.

Here are a few ways operators can incorporate ice cream treats that excite customers and drive dessert sales.

Can’t-Miss Milk Shakes

Second only to ice cream in its original form,¹ milk shakes are making a strong move for most innovative dessert in 2016. Savvy operators are taking milk shakes and malts from straightforward to fabulous as they aim to please the 54% of consumers who order milk shakes for dessert.¹

New York City’s Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer is revolutionizing milk shakes to the point patrons are willing to pay a premium—as in $15 for one of their epic concoctions. But when shakes are topped with a slice of birthday cake or lollipops and cotton candy, they seem to be well worth the price of admission. Taking Ice Cream Beyond Boundaries

After ice cream and milk shakes, sorbet and granita are the third-most-popular treat, followed by floats and sodas.¹ Brownie sundaes round out the top 5 menued ice cream desserts,1 but that doesn’t mean the same-old, same-old will do. Today’s consumers want to be wowed.

Operators can easily bring the trend to their own menus with not-so-simple ice cream sandwiches. A creative combination of decadent cookies, creamy ice cream and elegant extras is all operators need to make a standout dessert consumers can really sink their teeth into. Think home-baked cookies, brownies or even cookie dough for sandwich ends. Then pile on the ice cream and extras to finish creations with signature style.

Plus, ice cream sandwiches give operators ample opportunity to experiment with trending flavors such as cherry, banana and OREO ®. The Crispy Rice Ice Cream Sandwich made with OREO is an excellent jumping-off point for operators to start experimenting with out-of-the-box options.

Regional Ice Cream Flavor Favorites

One thing to consider while dreaming up creative ice cream concoctions: what do customers really want? In the Northeast, cranberry and pear ice creams are the fastest-growing regional flavors. Down south, consumers want lemon and cappuccino. Midwestern tastes tend toward triple chocolate and tart. While out west, sea salt and pomegranate are gaining popularity.

But grape and kiwi are rising to the top from sea to shining sea.

Ice Cream Creativity Is King

No matter how operators choose to incorporate ice cream into menus, one thing is clear: Ice cream knows no bounds. The more creative the application, the better the opportunity to attract patrons and boost sales.

Trending flavors, exciting toppings, modern mix-ins and cool takes on ice cream classics are all simple ways to help operators stand out from the crowd and scoop up more sales to Labor Day and beyond.

1 MenuMonitor, Technomic, May 13, 2016

2 Watrous, Monica, “Five food service trends in 2016,” Food Business News, Feb. 26, 2016

3 Bowerman, Mary, “$15 over-the-top milkshakes taking NYC by storm,” USA Today, Jan. 20, 2016

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