According to NPD Group, during any two week period, 40% of all Americans will indulge in ice cream. With a population of 318.9 million as of 2014, that translates to roughly 127.56 million people eating ice cream every two weeks in the United States. With summer around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for the highest consumption season – – most of the 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream produced in the U.S. each year are produced in June. The question is, how are you going to set your frozen treat apart from the rest?
One option is to revamp the spoons and cups you use. Ever heard that adage “we eat with our eyes”? Food scientists have long since declared the appearance of our food affects how we perceive its taste; now they’re claiming the utensils and packaging we use do the same. From the frozen yogurt spoons we eat off of to the ice cream cups with lids we carry our frozen treat home in, what people indulge with is proving as important as what they indulge in when it comes to consumer satisfaction. Here’s why:
- The color of more than your ice cream affects its flavor
Food manufacturers everywhere know color plays a key role in how consumers perceive the taste of their food. This is why food die is such a common component in store-bought goods. Because who wants to eat a grey pickle? Or white bubble gum ice cream? But beyond the color of the food itself, research has shown that the color of the dishware we eat out of affects our taste perception. One study found desserts served on white plates tasted sweeter than those served on dark-colored dishware. Apparently dark colors cause us to focus on the bitter flavor in food – – who knew?
- Lifting weight is good for you even outside the gym
Want another sneaky way to upgrade the flavor perception of your frozen yogurt? Give consumers heavier cups and spoons. Simply by increasing the weight of even plastic tasting spoons, you’ll add instant flavor points to your frozen treat’s profile. Why? Because we perceive weight in our dishware and utensils as a signal of a more expensive product. When we think we’re eating off a finer spoon, we subconsciously perceive our food to be of higher quality, too. One researcher found that adding two and a half ounces to plastic yogurt cups made the yogurt itself feel 25% more filling.
- Goldilocks knew what she was talking about
Have you heard temperature affects taste? Turns out the tip of your tongue is more than just a taster or tool for snubbing your childhood bully: it’s a thermometer that sets the sweet and sour profile of your food. A cold tongue tip will register saltier, more sour flavors in food while a warmer tongue tip makes food taste sweeter. To enhance the sweet profile of your ice cream, let it warm just slightly before consuming.
Chances are your customers won’t have the willpower to wait a couple minutes before diving into their treat, so you can help them along by making sure your paper or plastic ice cream cups aren’t too well-insulated. Take care with to-go ice cream cups with lids, however. Ice cream recipes have been tweaked for cold consumption. Liquid or at room temperature, frozen treats often taste sickly sweet. So keep frozen treats transportable with ice cream cups with lids that have enough insulation to provide for optimum melting before consumption. Remember it’s about being not too cold and not too warm, but just right.
A final word of wisdom: If you are ready to up the flavor-enhancing aspects of your ice cream cups or packaging, you might want to make alterations gradually. As big food manufacturers will tell you, changing the appearance of a product’s packaging can cause consumers to come back to you demanding how you changed the recipe. Then again, as long as the “new” recipe is better than the old, they can ask for the secret all they want. No one has to tell them it’s all in the to-go ice cream cups with lids they carried it home in.