Call it the “Ben and Jerry’s effect.” Local ice cream lovers don’t order chocolate, vanilla or strawberry anymore. They’d rather have exotic blends like java berry.
When Roman and his friends took a work break at Frozen Freddie’s ice cream shop in Quincy Point, he didn’t order a traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. He went for a more adventuresome favorite - black raspberry chip.
That’s the sort of blended flavors that local ice cream lovers prefer these days - java berry, cappuccino chunk, cashew caramel chunk, combinations that no dairy-stand crew would have imagined in times past.
Call it the “Ben and Jerry’s effect.” The Vermont company made its name with such flavors as Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia. Now locally-owned shops are catering to regulars and tourists with their own multi-ingredient recipes.
“Our regulars come to get the flavors that other places don’t generally serve,” said a manager at the Peaceful Meadows shop in Plymouth, where the favorites range from the cappucino chunk to coconut chocolate almond.
Like most other shops, Peaceful Meadows sells a lot of plain chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, too, though more often as frappes.
At Far Far’s Danish Ice Cream in Duxbury, ice cream is made fresh daily, and new flavors, like Lemon Chiffon and Rocky Beach, are introduced each week. Although Far Far’s has these new flavors in addition to local favorites like Negative Chocolate and Bubblegum, Oreo Cookie is a consistent best seller.
Thomas Twetten, who is visiting the South Shore from Wisconsin, got a chocolate cone while at Far Far’s Thursday.
“I usually get chocolate, but I like to try the different kinds of chocolate wherever I go,” Twetten said.
Shorty’s Ice Cream in Kingston offers more than 40 flavors each day, but there are some standout favorites.
“We have vanilla and chocolate soft serve, which are both pretty popular, but Moose Tracks, Maine Black Bear, and Cake Batter are both really popular in the hard ice cream,” said Andrea Cataldo, 20, of Halifax, who has worked at Shorty’s for three summers.
At the Dairy Twist in Pembroke, owner Jack Nolet offers a variety of coffee flavors, from the black raspberry combo of java berry to a coffee-pistachio blend. At Hingham’s Cold Stone Creamery, the current favorite is birthday cake remix, which includes cake batter ice cream, fudge, brownies and rainbow sprinkles.
Perhaps those confections reflect the adventurous tastes of Massachusetts, a state that has one of America’s heartiest appetites for ice cream. They’re certainly at odds with national favorites.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the top five U.S. sellers continue to be vanilla, chocolate, triple-flavor neapolitan, strawberry and cookies n' cream, in that order.
At a time when Boston-area gourmet shops offer such varieties as pumpkin, ginger and cucumber ice creams, plain old vanilla is still king, with 26 percent of all sales - though that includes grocery-store purchases as well as ice cream shops.
Shops like Cold Stone Creamery get their share of traditional customers, too - mostly senior citizens who ask, “Can I just get a plain ice cream?”
“Sure you can,” owner Madhuri Coletti assures them.
Lane Lambert of The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.) may be reached at email@example.com.