Why ice cream still reigns as one of America's favorite desserts

Ample Hill’s new limited “The Eye Opener” ice cream flavor 

Ample Hills

Last Updated Aug 19, 2016 5:15 PM EDT

Ice cream is happiness served by the scoop, beloved by both children and adults. Today, brands are working to churn out more than your basic chocolate and vanilla flavors with more creative flavors, reports CBS Sports’ Dana Jacobson.

Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna loved it so much, they made it their full time job.

“I think in retrospect, it seems like a midlife crisis at this point to have opened up an ice cream shop,” Smith said, laughing.

Five years ago, they opened a corner ice cream shop in Brooklyn. While it may have been a mid-life decision, this husband and wife team say it’s rooted in childhood.

Ample Hills serves flavors like “Ooey Gooey” – yellow cake stuffed into sweet cream – and salted caramel – a mix of freshly baked cookies churned into caramel. 

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Ample Hill’s Ooey Gooey ice cream 

Ample Hills

 “We really believe more is more, not less is more,” Smith said. “You know, we want somebody to come and complain to us that there’s too many cookies in their cookies and cream.”

The exact origins of ice cream are unknown, but you can thank America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, for one of the first written recipes – an 18-step vanilla.

“Has that ever happened?” Jacobson asked.

“Yes,” Smith said. “We’ve gotten a couple of complaints. And we know we’re doing our job.”

The exact origins of ice cream are unknown, but you can thank America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, for one of the first written recipes – an 18-step vanilla.

At first, ice cream was a treat reserved for elites, until refrigeration and the scoop service sped up. Then, there was a boom in neighborhood ice cream parlors.

Nilou Motamed is the editor of Food and Wine magazine, which features ice cream in their August issue.

“As Americans, we look at ice cream and this about those days of yesteryear and our grandparents eating ice cream on boardwalks and sitting at soda fountains much like this one. And tt was a great moment of families coming together of simplicity of hearkening back to ideally a simpler time,” Motamed said. “The biggest common thread that we found across the country was innovation and creativity. And I think and really looking at ice cream as an artisanal product.”

Today’s trendier cones come in flavors like “Salted Blue Corn Honey,” “Olive Oil Strawberry” and “Carrot Cake” from Odd Fellows Ice Cream​.

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Ice & Vice’s Blue Corn Honey Cone 

Ice & Vice

“Just like with coffee, it turns out that $12 a pint or $15 a pint is a not a barrier to entry when you’re talking about ice cream,” Motamed said.

That innovation isn’t just for smaller brands. Häagen-Dazs started with just three flavors – vanilla, chocolate and coffee. Today, with more than 50 varieties, they sell more than $400 million of ice cream annually.

Last year, they went further, introducing “Artisan” flavors. 
 
“Are the larger brands competing with some of the smaller brands that we see out there now?” Jacobson asked Kerry Hopkins, Häagen-Dazs brand manager. 

“I wouldn’t say that we are competing with them -- we love to see new brands and new companies come up because what it tells us is that consumers are just excited about ice cream,” Hopkins said.

“Is there something you can learn from them?” Jacobson asked.

“Absolutely, I get flavor inspiration from them just as I would hope that they would get inspiration from us as well,” Hopkins said.

But for the team at Ample Hills, inspiration is still best served in small batches. 

“Had ice cream gotten too corporate?” Jacobson asked.

“Yeah, I think ice cream has, to some extent, become a little too commodified, less special,” Smith said. “I think by creating brick and mortar shops that people have to go to to get ice cream, it creates a sense of earning it and being part of something bigger than just an ice cream cone.”

Even with all the flavors out there, America still has a flavor of choice. Häagen-Dazs said between 15 and 17 percent of its sales are just plain old vanilla.

“CBS This Morning” asked Ample Hills to create our own flavor of ice cream, the “Eye Opener” -- coffee ice cream with coffee brownies and coffee toffee. A limited batch of the Eye Opener is available this weekend at AmpleHills stores​. 

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Ample Hill’s new limited “The Eye Opener” ice cream flavor 

Ample Hill
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Ample Hill’s new limited “The Eye Opener” ice cream flavor 

Ample Hills