Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Has Fallen Out of Favor

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Has Fallen Out of Favor

Reported from ice-cream shops and frozen-food aisles in Boulder, Colo.

Banana pudding, chocolate fudge brownie, salted caramel, Cherry Garcia, Dr Pepper Float and dozens of other flavors packed the ice-cream freezer at a local Safeway. Robin Sawyer, one recent Sunday afternoon, hunted for her personal favorite, black raspberry chocolate chunk.

Her husband, Mark, 68, has long been a fan of chocolate chip, but he doesn’t see it around much anymore.

“Here it is!” Ms. Sawyer, 66, said to him, kneeling in front of the Haagen-Dazs section. “In the small container.” Then she corrected herself: “Oh, that’s chocolate chocolate chip.”

Vanilla chocolate chip ice cream, once a staple of the ice cream world and one of the top sellers of all time, has fallen out of favor. The flavor can still be found (a closer inspection of the Safeway aisle in this university mountain town revealed pints of Baskin Robbins’s chocolate chip), but it has been losing ground to flavors with more stuff, like cookies and cream and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Those two flavors are among the nation’s top five best sellers, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, while chocolate chip no longer makes the top 10. It is now sold only in selected markets or at certain times of the year, according to major manufacturers.

“Chocolate chip used to be a flavor we produced constantly,” said Caroline Crowley, communications specialist for Babcock Dairy Plant, which has 75 years of ice-cream making under its belt, in Madison, Wis. Chocolate chip hasn’t been a staple for a decade, she said: “Now it’s seasonal.”

Meaning, made for summer only. Even then, chocolate chip is not such a hot seller. Last summer, Babcock took four and a half months to sell through the 110 gallons of chocolate chip it had made, compared to three months for the same amount of chocolate chip cookie dough. “It’s kind of not fair,” Ms. Crowley said of the comparison. “We stock chocolate chip cookie dough all year,” giving it such an edge that it’s “creeping up on vanilla” in popularity.