It’s ice cream tasting time again, when 21 new ice creams will vie between 1 and 7 p.m., Thursday, May 9, for a coveted place among The Ice Cream Store’s list of summer flavors - a list that includes some of the most unique award-winning flavors in the country.
Drawing nearly 1,000 people in 2012, The Ice Cream Store’s annual Ice Cream Social and Taste-Testing Contest is now a Rehoboth Beach spring tradition, and owner Chip Hearn is delighted.
With The Ice Cream Store praised as one of the top seven ice cream dipping stores in the country by Reader’s Digest, and named as home to one of the most inventive ice cream flavors in the country by Newsweek Magazine, Hearn - referred to as “ice cream maker extraordinaire” by the Associated Press - often finds he is competing against his own past victories as he keeps working to create the newest and most popular ice cream sensation. Still, year-to-year, his competitive spirit does not wane.
How does he do it?
Secreting himself away through the winter months - like a genius mad scientist - Hearn lets his imagination run wild, and concocts ice cream flavors.
“I think like a kid,” Hearn said. “I take every incredible combination I can imagine putting together, and I try it - because I can! And sometimes it works really well!”
After months of trial and error, with many promising ideas falling by the wayside for reasons as varied as bananas compromising the texture of the ice cream or exotic flavorings being too difficult to obtain on the international market, 21 new flavors made the final cut to the 2013 Taste-Testing list. The fate of those flavors now rests in the hands of the public.
“I let the people decide,” Hearn explained. “They come, they taste ice cream all afternoon for free, and they vote for their favorites. Those are the ones we’ll continue making and add to our ice cream list for summer 2013.”
Even more than their votes, Hearn says he enjoys people’s comments -and he listens. If the people say they wish a certain flavor had more chocolate ripples, he adds chocolate ripples; if they want nuts, he adds the nuts - a process that resulted in what Hearn believes will be two of this year’s most popular new flavors.
Taking 2012’s landslide first place winner, Crack - a Brown Shugah Vanilla ice cream base with pasteurized egg yolk, butter and sea salt, Hearn added a massive amount of cracked nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds and pecans) to create Crack These Big Nuts: and added mini chocolate chips, brownie pieces, pecans, crushed Oreo cookie and a caramel swirl to create This Ish Is Off The Hook.
The new taste-testing flavors of 2013
Youngsters can look forward to a great time, as they are finally allowed to eat Dirt - milk chocolate ice cream with crushed Oreo cookies and cut up gummi worms, topped with a real worm. Also expected to join the list of children’s favorites are Fruity Pebbles Ice Cream and Peeps Ice Cream.
For the adventuresome with a sense of humor, Hearn’s offerings include Breakfast in Bed - African vanilla ice cream with pasteurized egg yolks, real maple syrup, and bacon; Cornbread Ice Cream - cake batter ice cream with superfine sugar and cornbread mix; Chamomile Tea with Honey & Lemon Ice Cream - African Vanilla ice cream made with brewed chamomile tea; Stifler’s Mom Ice Cream - Brown Shugah vanilla ice cream with cayenne pepper powder, candied pecans and a caramel ribbon; and What Would Jimmy Buffett Do? It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere - African vanilla ice cream with cinnamon, Superfine sugar, salt, Nassau Valley red wine and Coca-Cola.
Offerings for fruit lovers include Blood Orange Mango Ice Cream, made with blood orange juice and mango; Sour Cherry Ice Cream, made with sour cherry flavoring, Oregon black cherry halves and raspberry; and The Fig’s Up, featuring fig preserves, orange blossom honey, cinnamon and small pieces of dates.
Mint cravers will want to sample Hearn’s new Mint Milano Ice Cream -spearmint ice cream with broken-up Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies and ribbons of chocolate fudge; Minty Python - milk chocolate with peppermint flavoring, pieces of York Peppermint Patties and mini chocolate chips; Peppermint Brownie Ice Cream - pink mint chocolate chip ice cream with brownie pieces, white chocolate chips and a fudge swirl; and Spearmint Ice Cream with mini chocolate chips.
Chocolate Rum Raisin Ice Cream will tempt traditionalists, who also can expect to be wowed by My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Store Ice Cream; Natural Oreo Cookie Ice Cream; and Philly Butter Cake Ice Cream.
“Every ice cream lover who comes to taste our new flavors is guaranteed to find two things at the Ice Cream Social and Taste-Testing Contest,” Hearn said. “Lots of fun and some great new ice cream.”