Ice Cream addict invited to taste 48 flavors, choose favorite

My curiosity, such as it is, was piqued the other day as I glanced at a flyer in the Sunday paper.  Our own local Darigold was on a quest for a new ice cream flavor.  

If you want to see a flagrant and spectacular violation of the known laws of physics, watch how fast a half-gallon of ice cream can disappear when I am near.

So being the ice cream hound that I am, I immediately sat down and sent them 23 flavors.  

I thought I had been clever with fun names and whimsical ingredients:  Maui Waui, Shanna Banana, Seattle Grunge, and was counting the days until September 20 when the finalist would be notified.  

But as the countdown continued, the complacency gave way to the grim, clear-eyed reality that I lost.

Whipped into an emotional frenzy, I had almost succeeded in driving the thought of doing two of my favorite things–eating and eating ice cream Good-Bye, when I received this letter:

“Dear Darigold Concoction Contest Entrant:

Congratulations!  While your ‘flavor’ was not one of the winning entries, your letter convinced us that you deserve a seat on Darigold’s Feature Flavors Selection Panel as a VIP guest taster.  You will be sampling 48 different flavors of ice cream to help us select the flavors that will be included in next year’s Darigold Feature Flavors program.”

I naturally was delighted, yet I became delirious when Jan Roberts, Consumer Scientist for Darigold, informed me there were over 10,000 entries!

“They had all been very clever,” she explained.  “Some went as far as sending ingredients with their recipe.  Out of all the entries, there seems to be a trend towards coconut, pretzel, lemon, and mint flavors.”  

And she continued chuckling as it was quite a challenge to narrow 10,000 entries down to four flavors, one for each category of fruit, nut, chocolate, and candy.

How long did it take to compose one of the four winning flavors?  Four weeks.  

The flavor was sent to the manufacturer, who took about a week with special instructions from Darigold.  A quart would then return to the consumer science lab, where the staff would taste and approve the flavor. When approved, the design for the box would start, and ample ice cream would be made for the VIP taste testers who would choose the winners.

First, we started with fruit and used the two-spoon method.

I was ready for the big one spoon method, but rules are rules.  

We had 20 minutes to take ice cream from a big metal spoon and put a scoop of ice cream on a little tiny pink plastic spoon.  Savor the flavor (as many times as we wanted), then rate it on a scale of 1-5 for the overall reaction to the flavor, name, and carton design.

I will not here or anywhere describe what I remember of eating 48 flavors of ice cream in 2-1/2 hours, which is almost everything.  

Enough to say that having not eaten 48 flavors of ice cream in one sitting before, I was surprised that by the time we had reached the fourth category (candy), I wanted to shout, “Enough already! My teeth are getting fuzzy!”  

But I did not because the four finalists and the 17 invited guests would have turned on me, and my lifeless body would have been found later in a butter vat, covered with tiny pink plastic spoons.

I was incredibly full.  

Me–an ice cream addict who in a million years would never have thought ice cream could be filling.  But each taste was better than the last. Every bite burst with creamy, rich flavor, with wonderful ingredients and surprising names, such as Mud Puddle, Cloudy With a Chance of Cookies, Chocolate Freckles, Muddy Snowshoes, and Cluster’s Last Stand.

The winning flavors for the four categories were: Mad About Chew (chocolate category) with chunks of brownies, mini candy-coated chocolates, ribbons of peanut butter, and chocolate-flavored ice cream; Red Hot Java (candy category) with cinnamon red hot candies, and cinnamon-coffee-flavored ice cream; Internut (nut category)with roasted almonds, white chocolate chunks, webs of chocolate fudge, and pistachio-flavored ice cream; and English Lemon Meringue Custard (fruit category) with lemon meringue swirl, pie pieces, and lemon-custard flavored ice cream.

They were all delicious.  My favorite, even though I am a chocolaholic, was the English Lemon Meringue Custard.  It was delightfully different.

As a parting gift, Darigold each gave us a talking Ice Cream Man scoop.  

It yells, “Ice Cream,” and then you hear bells ringing from an old-fashioned ice cream truck.  Unfortunately, we ice cream addicts do not like a lot of noise when we are sneaking the last bites out of the box, so I think I will keep that hidden in the drawer.

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