May 13, 2002
The healing power of ice cream
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
Cocoa Mocha Macaroni, Tapioca Smoked Baloney, Checkerberry Cheddar Chew, and Chicken Cherry Honeydew ..... These are just a few of the divine ice cream flavors "too delicious to resist" that Jack Prelutsky wrote about in his popular children's poem, "Bleezer's Ice Cream Store."
And though these flavors are mouth-watering for sure, they don't compare to the five ice cream flavors the Woodinville Weekly (WW) staff was treated to Tuesday morning, April 30.
"Good morning, you've got five choices to choose from!" Dreyer's official taste tester, John Harrison announced to the newspaper employees. "Ultimate Caramel Cup, French Vanilla Fudge Pie, Blue Ribbon Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Cupcake and Vanillaberry Bar."
Staff attendance on this day was high, even by people who had the day off or who weren't employed with the WW but hoping for on-the-spot hiring (until the ice cream was gone.)
Everybody there sampled one or all of the five ice cream flavors of Dreyer's new Rookie 2002 ice cream line.
Only one of the five flavors will earn a permanent spot on Dreyer's roster for 2003. Harrison dishes up ice cream for the waiting staff.
Attired in a white coat Harrison looked like a doctor doling out the perfect prescription that will cure all ills. He explained why he's there.
"For the good cheer and a fun morning," he said, sounding in high spirits that only someone who tastes ice cream for a living might sound. "And to talk about our new line of Rookie ice cream," he added.
Harrison travels to media outlets around the country talking about his cool and creamy frozen confections. While at the WW office, he'll gaugd which of the five Rookie flavors enticed the staff the most.
While visiting Woodinville, Harrison is stopping in at local grocery stores to check the appearance and packaging of Dreyer's ice cream in the store's freezers.
When he spots ice cream cartons with lids that aren't on properly or patterns in the ice cream that doesn't look right, he buys the ice cream back from the stores.
However, the ice cream being sampled and enjoyed at the Woodinville Weekly this particular morning definitely made the grade by the looks of the staff dipping spoons into paper cups, making comments like "Verrr-ry good" and "A caramel lover's dream."
"Since 9-11, ice cream sales have gone up," says Harrison, noting that national sales have risen about 12 percent since the day of the tragedy. "The country had a crisis and families pulled together.
Ice cream is used to comfort one another," he says, then explained further, "You know-you have a bad day and there's nothing like a bowl of ice cream."
Eric Johnson, owner of Cold Stone Creamery in Woodinville agrees that ice cream sales are up. "Our store sales have been up 30 percent since 9-11," he says. He adds that his store scoops up ice cream for 800 to a 1,000 customers on a busy day.
Taste Tester Harrison knows a lot about ice cream customers, especially the ones who eat the most. "Boys between the ages of 9 and 16 consume more ice cream in one sitting than any other age group," he says, stating that the boys will inhale 9 oz. as compared to the girls their age who will consume a mere 8.3 oz. in one sitting.
All other age groups, says Harrison, eat about 4 to 6 oz. And what flavor is most popular with all age groups? Is it Peanut Butter Cup, Mocha Almond Fudge or Old Fashioned Butter Pecan? Well, none of those. Says Harrison, "Vanilla is still the most popular flavor in America. It goes with everything ... pies, cakes, sodas."
He mentions that vanilla can have wild variations. There's Vanilla Bean, French Vanilla, even a Tahitian Vanilla made with vanilla beans from Tahiti.
Good ol' chocolate ranks second with Americans in favorite flavors and Neopolitan — the ice cream that shows up at every kid's birthday party — comes in third.
There are also least favorites, ice cream flavors that only a slight minority enjoy, like spumoni, pistachio and bubblegum.
There are about 225 ice cream flavors for Americans to choose from, with 125 of those flavors developed by the Dreyer's Company. Also, there are odd flavors, such as garlic ice cream served every year at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California.
Lobster-flavored ice cream seems to delight the palettes of New Englanders on the eastern seaboard. According to Harrison, different regions of the country tend to prefer one flavor above others.
Though some New Englanders find lobster ice cream lip-smacking good, the majority of Easterners go for the coffee ice creams.
Says Harrison, "Starbucks ice creams are popular nationally, but New England especially likes it." He says that the Pacific Northwest, known for its love of coffee, prefers berry-flavored ice creams like raspberry.
The Midwest prefers strawberry. And the South hankers for chocolate. (No one knows if that is with, or without, grits.)
Harrison says he's never met a man or woman who doesn't like ice cream. "It's un-American," he quips with a laugh,
What he has discovered, though, is that Americans seek solace in anxious times and ice cream has served as one of the comforts. "We all have a positive feeling about ice cream," says Harrison. "Ice cream is a part of our growing up. It's always been a family affair."
He points out that everyone has a special childhood memory when it comes to ice cream, such as recalling the time grandma and grandpa hand-cranked homemade ice cream down on the farm.
Of course, anyone can eat too much ice cream and end up increasing their level of anxiety—not to mention weight.
But since 9-11, many Americans have begun to focus on what's right in the world. By the increase of ice cream sales, it appears Cookies and Cream, Rocky Road, Real Strawberry and Mint Chocolate Chips are part of what's right.
For those ice cream lovers who want to vote for their favorite "Rookie of the Year" flavor, call 1-888-766-5430. (Not to sway you, but French Vanilla Fudge Pie won the WW staff over as their number one pick.)
To learn about "The Rookie Moments" contest that will grant ten ice cream enthusiasts once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and a year's supply of Dreyer's ice cream, visit www.Dreyersrookies.com.