July is National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday (July 22nd this year) is National Ice Cream Day, both officially designated by President Reagan back in 1984. From single scoop cones to drinkable desserts, operators are offering Americans many tempting ways to indulge this summer.
- NPD Crest research shows that nearly 2 billion servings of ice cream were ordered at foodservice venues between April 2011 and 2012, up 2% from the year before
- According to the International Dairy Foods Association, vanilla is still America's favorite, but that doesn't stop ice cream concepts, producers and dessert menus from offering more innovative flavors
- Peanut butter was the top growing ice cream flavor of 2012, reported Datassential MenuTrends, citing its U.S. chains and independents database of 4,800 foodservice outlets. Mango, lemon, peach and pumpkin grabbed spots two through five
- Gelato is gaining ground among ice cream fans. This creamier Italian cousin of ice cream is lower in fat, slightly denser and often boasts intense colors and flavors like blood orange and hazelnut
- Upscale concepts are offering artisanal ice creams and gourmet toppings to differentiate their offerings. The Four Seasons Hotel Boston created a pop-up sundae shop in the lobby, featuring eight flavors of small-batch ice creams, while the Four Seasons in L.A. boasts vegan options such as walnut-fig and chocolate toffee dairy-free "ice creams"
- Ice cream is increasingly partnering up with specialty coffees and spirits for some creative grownup treats. The affogato, the Italian invention that douses a scoop of gelato with a shot of hot espresso, is showing up on more dessert menus and in coffee concepts. At the Four Seasons in Dublin, guests can add a jigger of Bailey's Irish Cream or Original Irish Mist liqueur to the classic affogato