How Much Does America Love Ice Cream? Yahoo Food Has the Scoop

Kerry Diamond
·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Food

This week, Yahoo Food is celebrating America’s favorite dessert with a series of profiles, recipes and photo galleries all dedicated to the creamy, delicious dessert. Check out our Ice Cream page for complete coverage!

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PHOTO: Nicole Mlakar/Offset

Every day at Yahoo Food, we hear about another ice cream parlor opening its doors, or another ice cream brand hitting the shelves of supermarkets around the country. The Instagrammers we love regularly post the prettiest swirls of soft serve on their feeds, and ice cream fans happily tweet as they stand in line at the hottest new scoop shop. Ben & Jerry’s makes national headlines when they discontinue a flavor. Recalls also make the news, as so many Americans have a pint, or a quart, or two in their freezers at home for themselves and their families, and want to be sure it’s safe to enjoy.

It’s clear that America loves ice cream. Last year, we ate $8 billion worth of the dreamy, creamy, frozen stuff. But how much do we love it? Do we love it more than cake? It is America’s favorite dessert? We decided to find out.

The Yahoo Insights team conducted a survey with more than 1,000 people around the country to learn a few things about their ice cream consumption. What did we discover? Well, the ice cream obsession is stronger than we thought. America’s favorite flavor might surprise you too. Here are the results:

SORRY, CAKE. SORRY, CANDY.

Ice cream is America’s favorite dessert. When asked to choose a favorite dessert, ice cream is the obvious winner and is twice as popular as its closest competitor, cake.

Ice cream: 41%
Cake: 20%
Cookies: 11%
Pie: 11%
Fruit: 9%
Candy: 7%

While ice cream is everyone’s favorite, 13- to 17-year olds are particular fans. That age group is significantly more likely to say that ice cream is its preferred dessert relative to other age groups.

13-17 (centennials): 56% say ice cream is their favorite
18-34 (millennials): 38% say ice cream is their favorite
35+: 39% say ice cream is their favorite dessert

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PHOTO: Felicia Perretti/Offset

AND OUR FAVORITE FLAVOR IS…?

America, you still like the basics. Chocolate is ranked No. 1, followed by cookies & cream, and vanilla.

Chocolate: 16%
Cookies & Cream: 13%
Vanilla : 12%
Cookie Dough: 11%
Mint Chocolate Chip: 11%
Strawberry: 9%
Butter Pecan: 8%
Rocky Road: 6%
Coffee: 6%
Other: 7%

If you’re surprised that cookies & cream came in second, that might be a reflection of your age. Millennials (18 to 34 year olds) and Centennials (13 to 17 year olds) are twice as likely to choose cookies and cream as their favorite versus those 35 years old and up.

13-35: 15% say cookies and cream is their favorite
35+: 7% say cookies and cream is their favorite

ICE CREAM 365 DAYS A YEAR

Of course summer is the most popular time to indulge, but Americans like ice cream year round. Fifty-six percent say they enjoy ice cream any time of the year. Women (61 percent) are significantly more likely than men (51 percent) to say it’s always ice-cream season.

OUR WEEKLY HABIT

How often do we indulge? Well, 86% of Americans eat ice cream at least once a week, with the biggest consumption happening among youngsters and parents.

Millennials are most likely to eat ice cream daily, and are twice as likely to eat ice cream daily vs. older generations.

13-17 year olds: 20% eat ice cream daily
Non-Parents: 8% eat ice cream daily
18+: 11% eat ice cream daily
Parents are twice as likely to eat ice cream daily versus non-parents:
Parents: 15% eat ice cream daily

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PHOTO: Susan Brooks-Dammann/Westend61/Offset

AMERICAN’S BRAND STAND

The country’s favorite ice cream brand is one that’s been around since 1866: Breyers. The relatively younger Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs came in second and third. Blue Bell managed a fourth-place showing despite recent recalls.

Breyers: 16%
Ben & Jerry’s: 15%
Haagen-Dazs: 13%
Blue Bell: 10%
Cold Stone Creamery : 9%
Dairy Queen: 8%
Baskin-Robbins: 7%
Edy’s: 6%
Turkey Hill: 3%
Carvel: 2%

Blue Bell is especially popular down South. Ice-cream loving Southerners are significantly more likely to rank it as their favorite versus those in other regions.

South: 19% prefer Blue Bell
West: 8% prefer Blue Bell
Midwest: 5% prefer Blue Bell
Northeast: 2% prefer Blue Bell

THE PRICE OF A PINT

Just as Americans have gotten used to premium-priced pints, such as those from Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs, along comes super premium. Brands such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and Nancy’s Fancy (from celebrated Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton) are charging more than $10 per pint. (That’s not a typo.) But most in the country want to spend less than $5 for a pint of ice cream.

60% of Americans want to spend less than $5 for a pint
48% are willing to spend between $3 and $5
Only a third of Americans would be willing to spend more than $5, driven by 35+.

SCOOPS VERSUS SUNDAES VERSUS SOFT SERVE

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PHOTO: Mark Weinberg/Offset

Soft-serve, that mainstay of ice cream trucks, is certainly trend these days, thanks to the folks at Milk Bar, Big Gay Ice Cream, and Superiority Burger. But it gets the cold shoulder compared to good old-fashioned scoops. Here’s how America likes its ice cream.

Plain Scoop: 40%
Soft Serve: 22%
Ice Cream Sundae: 21%
Accompanying another dessert, like ice cream with pie or cake: 9%
Ice cream cake: 8%

Drill it down to just scoop and soft serve, and the vast majority of Americans prefer the former.

Scoop: 70%
Soft Serve: 30%

If you’re opening an ice cream parlor in the Northeast, you might want to take note. People in that part of the country are driving the interest in soft serve, as they are almost twice as likely to prefer it versus other regions.

Northeast: 45% prefer soft serve over scoop
West: 28%
South: 27%
Midwest: 25%

PARLOR GAMES: THE QUEEN REIGNS SUPREME

She’s not just queen for the day. Dairy Queen is America’s favorite ice cream shop.

Dairy Queen 28%
Cold Stone Creamery : 20%
Baskin-Robbins: 18%
Haagen-Dazs: 10%
Ben & Jerry’s: 9%
Other 9%
Carvel: 4%
Local drugstore/pharmacy: 3%

Again, it’s a millennial thing. The 13-17 year olds are driving DQ’s popularity, as they are nearly twice as likely to cite DQ as their favorite versus older generations.

13-17 year olds: 42% say DQ is their favorite
18+: 24% say DQ is their favorite
Among those 35+, Baskin-Robbins takes a bit of a lead.
Baskin Robins: 24% of 35+ feel Baskin-Robbins is their favorite
DQ: 21% of 35+ feel DQ is their favorite

WOULD YOU LIKE THAT IN A CUP OR A CONE?

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PHOTO: The Picture Pantry/Offset

It’s the age-old question. Cup or cone? When visiting an ice cream shop, most Americans prefer to get their ice cream in a cup.

Cup: 57%
Cone: 43%

For the coneheads out there, the preferred vehicle by far is the waffle cone.

Waffle cone: 67%
Sugar cone: 16%
Cake cone: 8%
Cookie cone: 6%
Pretzel cone: 2%

WELL, IT’S NOT HEALTH FOOD

Surprisingly, millennials are the most concerned about ice cream and their diets. (They should try the frozen bananas in a blender trick.) The millennials are the most likely to say: “I would eat more ice cream than I do now if it weren’t unhealthy.”

13-17 year olds (centennials): 34% agree with the above statement
18-35 year olds (millennials): 51% agree with the above statement)
35 year+: 41% agree with the above statement

ICE CREAM RECALLS

The recent high profile recalls from Blue Bell and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream have had an impact on the public’s ice cream consumption. But a large number of Americans aren’t even aware these recalls have occurred.

14% of Americans have been eating less ice cream since the latest recall
1 in 3 Americans didn’t even know about any recent recalls

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What do you think about the ice cream survey? Tell us what you agree with or don’t in the comments below. Or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and share your thoughts and favorite ice cream pictures!

More icy treats from Yahoo Food:

Raspberry and Banana Instant Ice Cream

Blackberry Blackout No-Churn Ice Cream Cake

Why Hot Fudge Doesn’t Belong on a Sundae