Nothing, I think, sums up the exuberant hopefulness of childhood quite as well as the ice-cream man's jingle. Almost as anticipated as the last school bell, kids line their streets having, by mid-summer, already figured out at what point of the day he will round their corner and shower them with his coveted frozen confections. This Pavlovian response has to be about more than just the ice cream inside? doesn't it? After all, those rocket pops and drumsticks are all fine and dandy, but are they really any good to anyone over the age of ten? The Good Humor man ultimately serves an age-old purpose, luring in a new generation of ice-cream consumer with a cheery jungle and a brightly colored truck. By the time they are in their mid-twenties these kids are just the type of conditioned mass to shell out big bucks for the next gourmet ice-cream phenomenon (Coldstone Creamery anyone?)
Now with that being said, I LOVE ice-cream. Coldstone Creamery was actually the first place of food business to hire me at the ripe young age of fourteen. To this day I still maintain that working at Coldstone was the most fun job I have ever had. Even though I was making minimum wage and came home smelling like waffle cones, I got to play with food all day! Making ice-cream, decorating ice-cream cakes, dipping waffle cones in molten chocolate, and yes, singing Coldstone jingles I was tipped.
I think that there is nothing better than a perfectly creamy bowl of ice cream. And oh! the choices we have now when it comes to flavor! The big ice cream companies have given a serious face lift to the boring trifecta of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream flavors of yesteryear.
Some of my very favorite new flavors come from a brand that has been taking the world by storm with their creative American take on classic Italian gelato. Ciao Bella Gelato started in New York City's Little Italy in the early 1980's and has since exploded onto the ice-cream scene. With creative flavors like Key Lime graham, Matcha Green Tea, Malted Milk Ball, Banana Mango, Maple Ginger Snap, and Blackberry Cabernet (a personal favorite), it is no wonder why this company continues to grow. All of their flavors are bold, clean, and surprisingly perfect frozen versions of their culinary inspirations.
Also worth noting about Ciao Bella Gelato is that all of their products are Kosher as well as gluten free, making their gelato accessible to a larger audience than most ice-creams. There is no other company that can compare to Ciao Bella at the moment, they have the gelato market on its knees and aren't ready to give up supremacy any time soon. Personally I can't wait to try whatever new and exciting flavors they come up with next.
There is certainly an exploding market for specialty or 'gourmet' flavors in the ice-cream world, and everyone is getting in on it. Häagen-Dazs, a company that has been producing ice cream since 1961 has recently revamped their marketing approach and come out with a new line of ice-creams called '5' (a nod to the fact that they claim to use only five all-natural ingredients in the line's production). They have also taken a note from the advertising book of health-food giant Kaashi with a powerful new commercial showcasing a naturalistic approach to creating flavor and a commitment to quality. This has to be one of the best new image campaigns in the food world I have seen. The first time I saw it I thought it had to be a health food commercial. I was pleasantly shocked when, at the end, it was good-ol' Haagen-Dazs, a company I had never looked at as particularly progressive. They were just an ice-cream company! A great one that made tasty ice-cream, yes, but a role model for the new food revolution? Alice Waters be proud, you've got another one.
Here's the commercial that started it all: