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Cone or Cup? Have Ice Cream Your Way


A classic image of youthful summer is an ice cream cone, a waffle cone stacked high with strawberry, vanilla, or mint scoops of ice cream, maybe with sprinkles or pecans. It’s a visual marvel of food, to be sure, but this frozen dessert can literally get out of hand, since there’s no actual dessert cup or plate to contain it. Melting is an actual issue, with a mess to match. Businesses selling ice cream, big or small, may want to weight their options between classic cones and selling their product in an ice cream cup instead, or take another route with gelato.

Ice Cream is King of Dessert

There is no doubt that the classic image of ice cream in the summer is backed up by statistics and money. Americans eat these frozen treats with zeal, with the average American having an ice cream treat 28.5 times every single year, and in any given two-week period, about 40% of Americans will have a serving of ice cream. In fact, of all milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers, 9% of it goes toward ice cream production, and that amounts to one and a half billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts every year. There’s plenty of places to buy ice cream and frozen yogurt: by the end of 2013, around 2,582 frozen yogurt stores were in operation. It is clear, then, that ice cream is big, and it is here to stay. So, new or expanding businesses have a few factors to consider when getting into this market.

Ways to Serve

The classic image of a stacked ice cream cone is one option. Although the mess factor is real (such as soiled clothes or an entire scoop falling off), the cone has a timeless appeal, and the waffle cones themselves are flavorful, and their crunchiness contrasts with and compliments the soft ice cream itself. But for today’s fussier and neater eaters, there are other routes.

An ice cream cup is a strong competitor to the classic cone. With spoons and to go cups offering convenience and portability, these frozen treats are ideal for kids and adults alike. In fact, a spoon allows the consumer to mix different flavored ice cream in the bowl, and a bowl can be placed in the freezer at home to store leftovers, while a cone would require separate equipment to store. A cup doesn’t offer the flashy, vintage look of a cone, but it also won’t get on the eater’s fingers or sleeves.

Ice cream cups are clearly favorable, but gelato is another popular route. According to NPR, gelato is ice cream’s Italian cousin, and with an emphasis on milk instead of buttery cream, and having less air mixed in, gelato offers a smoother, richer dessert option with less fat. It is also served a bit warmer than ice cream, at 7 to 12 degrees, while American ice cream is served colder. This means that gelato will not numb the mouth with cold as easily as ice cream will, and like an ice cream cup, it is best eaten with a spoon, or spade to prevent messes. It is also popular; sales of gelato brought in $214 million in 2014, a huge increase over 2009’s 414 million.

Whether a classic cone, an ice cream cup, or the novelty of gelato, businesses have several options for serving customers in the warmer months. Having the right mixers, freezers, cups and spoons, and a cash register can open any small business for ice cream sales to beat the heat.

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