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Vanilla beats chocolate to rank as the top-selling ice cream flavor in US

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Mary Ellen Shoup

By Mary Ellen Shoup+

Last updated on 10-Jul-2017 at 10:37 GMT2017-07-10T10:37:13Z

Vanilla ice cream is the top flavor
Vanilla ice cream is the top flavor "because of its ability to enhance so many other desserts,” IDFA VP of regulatory and scientific affairs said. ©iStock/AnnaPustynnikova

Despite the desire to experience multiple flavors, a majority of consumers buy ice cream products featuring one flavor, according to a survey of ice cream manufacturers and retailers conducted by IDFA.

The US ice cream industry is valued at $39bn, with nine in 10 consumers having purchased the frozen dessert in the past six months, according to Mintel.

The IDFA survey found the top five best-selling flavors in the US are: vanilla, chocolate, cookies n’ cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Falling in line with this flavor preference, Ben & Jerry’s, which has a broad line of ice cream flavors, found its top five best-selling products had a vanilla or chocolate ice cream as its base, including chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate fudge brownie.

Mintel also found that while preference for single-flavor ice cream products accounted for more unit sales, 41% of consumers have purchased ice cream with mix-in ingredients.

When asked about ingredients added to ice cream, the majority of those surveyed said that pecans are the most popular nut or nut flavoring, while strawberries are the most popular fruit added to ice cream. 

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

The respondents also listed some less-traditional flavors including lemon poppyseed muffin, black sesame and a bourbon- and caffeine-spiked ice cream.

Ice cream sandwiches were the respondents’ favorite novelty product, the survey found.

Regional sales

The US Great Lakes region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, registered the highest amount of sales of regional ice cream brands, IDFA’s survey revealed. Respondents also ranked the Southwest, Plains and the Mideast regions of the US as their next most successful markets.

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