Summer's Hottest Ice Cream Flavors

By: Frank Samperi

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Summer's here, and that means indulging in our favorite summer foods: burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, frosty cocktails and -- of course -- ice cream.

Every year, ice cream store owners across the country predict which flavors will most appeal to customers. As new flavors come on the market, proprietors weigh the pros and cons of swapping in a new option for a low performer from the previous year. This can mean hitting the jackpot with a hot new flavor, or sinking money into a dud that will sit around all season.

Nowhere is ice cream in higher demand than at the beach, including the Jersey Shore, a destination for New Jersey locals and visitors from nearby New York City and Philadelphia. Skipper Dipper has been a local, family-owned ice cream tradition for 35 years, a line of beach-goers often snaking out the door of its Long Beach Island, NJ location.

Store owner Dave Powitz shares the early ice cream trends from this summer.

Cooking Channel:
Skipper Dipper's been a Long Beach Island fixture for three and a half decades. What flavors have you seen come and go?
Skipper Dipper's Dave Powitz:

You can't find Butter Brickle any more (a crunchy, toffee-flavored ice cream) or Tin Roof (vanilla and fudge with peanuts) although they were favorites when I was a kid. But new flavors like Coffee and Donuts are gaining popularity.

CC: What's the hot new flavor this summer?

SD: Caramel-based flavors are a perennial favorite, but variations are all the rage, like Mocha Caramel. We debuted Salted Caramel last summer, and everyone is coming back this year asking for it.

CC: Any new flavors that haven't been as hot as you'd hoped?

SD: The response to Vanilla Tofutti has been underwhelming, but I'm still happy we now offer it for our lactose-intolerant friends.

CC: What are some of the less popular flavors you've retired to make way for the new stuff?

SD: Cherry Vanilla and Peach have been demoted to rotating flavors, and Pistachio had better pack its bags, cause it's next.

CC: What else are people excited about besides the ice cream?

SD: We make fresh waffle cones and folks love ’em. Sometimes it's difficult to keep up with the demand, like on Saturday nights when it gets packed in here. The aroma of fresh waffles cooking fills the store and even folks outside waiting in line can smell them.

CC: Are toppings getting more exotic these days?

SD: The folks around here prefer traditional toppings like fresh peanuts, hot fudge and wet walnuts (walnuts in maple syrup), but there are some unexpected favorites like Grape Nuts, which are sweet when paired with ice cream. Even plain vanilla ice cream with Grape Nuts is delicious.

Soft serve flavorings are getting more diverse, like cheesecake, coconut and peanut butter flavors, so there's something for everyone.

But you see some really interesting flavors from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. They're playing around with cayenne pepper and wasabi pea dust as ice cream toppings. But our smaller-town customer base isn't there yet.

CC: Any other new trends you're seeing?

SD: Booze-flavored ice creams are pretty big, like the Bananas Foster in the hard ice cream, and Kahlua, Amaretto and Pina Colada in the soft serve. People also love the  Blue Bubble Gum ice cream for Fourth of July.

CC: What do you think the most popular flavor of the summer will be?

SD: Mint Chip, without a doubt. Every year, we sell more Mint Chip than any other flavor.

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