The Not Food Network Challenge: Ice Cream Edition

As I’ve mentioned before, my boys are totally obsessed with food competitions. The food component comes from me, and the competitive nature comes from their daddy. I think. Or is that the other way around?

From time to time, they propose a food competition that doesn’t sound too terrible (read: a colossal mess) so I relent.  This time, the boys wanted to stage an Ice Cream Challenge.

Fact: No Ice Cream Challenge is complete without Pink Velvet Cake.

How can I say no to ice cream? Not only did the kids want to make homemade ice cream, but they wanted to make three different varieties. Since ice cream is one of my Achilles’ heels, I cracked the whip agreed to get them started.

Having learned from the interesting ingredient combinations that I choked down encountered in The Pretzel Challenge, I outlined a few more guidelines before approving their new ideas.

Yes, Virginia. There is a learning curve.

We took our time with this challenge–about a week. This time around, I took the opportunity to have the Sons get in a little extra thinking during the process. I made them come up with a marketing plan for their ice cream flavors.

Yes. I really did.

We brainstormed the types of flavors that they like in their ice cream:

  • Smooth or chunky?
  • Fruity or candy-laden?
  • Vanilla or chocolate base?

We also talked about target markets, retailers, and packaging. We took a field trip to a few different stores to look at product placement and packaging. We discussed what it was about the ice cream labels that drew them to a specific package in the freezer case. All of that served as a spring board to compare packaging with pricing models–they were shocked to discover that they could buy a giant bucket o’ lower quality ice cream for the same price as a pint of boutique ice cream.

Later, I helped the boys develop their Marketing Proposals. I know it sounds like an arduous process to put kids through just to make ice cream, but they really enjoyed learning more about some of the things that are involved with bringing a product to market. Once they had a plan, they were able to design a label for their ice cream.

Son #1’s Strawberry Chocolate Chunk

Son #1 is most attracted to simple flavors with elegant packaging. He prefers a black background so as to highlight the picture of the product. He also thought it important to include 100% Homemade on the package so that “people can see it was made with love.”

For the record: Son #1’s vision for his product label didn’t include markers on paper. He wanted an all-out, stylized photo shoot of the actual product. He didn’t feel that his “rudimentary drawings accurately portrayed the quality of the product.”

Son #1’s Strawberry Chocolate Chunk was made with a vanilla bean base, strawberry syrup, and loads of chopped dark chocolate.

Son #2’s Homemade Bear Tracks

Son #2 has been laughing at flatulence/belching/bodily functions since before he could sit up on his own, so it should come as no surprise that the kid is drawn to humorous advertising. He loves Ben & Jerry’s for coming up with such flavor names as Phish Food, Chunky MonkeyChubby Hubby, and Americone Dream.

Since he wanted to come up with a nut-free version of Moose Tracks, I find it very appropriate that he named his “safe” version after his favorite animal. The tagline on his package reads, “A Bear’s favorite treat and it’s so brown that two bears would fight for it.”

Apparently in Bear World, two bears will fight over really brown stuff. And chocolate. I can totally relate to the fighting for chocolate part.

Son #2’s Bear Tracks was made with a vanilla extract base, milk chocolate chips, and dark chocolate and caramel syrups drizzled both into the base, and then layered with the ice cream in the container. The top of the ice cream was then drizzled with more caramel syrup and Magic Shell.

Son #3’s Monster Cookie Vanilla You Won’t Even Believe It

Son #3 had only one thing in mind when making his ice cream–he wanted it to have a whole mess o’ cookies inside. He’s a cookies & cream kind of guy, and his ice cream didn’t stray from his favorite. Now to understand the name of his ice cream, you have to understand a few things:

  1. The Baby calls Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster Monster Cookie. We think it’s so dang cute that we wouldn’t dream of correcting him.
  2. The Ever-Exuberant Son #3 would only say the name of his ice cream flavor while jumping up & down with his hands in the air. Every. Single. Time.
  3. Read the title again with that image in mind.

Son #3’s Monster Cookie Vanilla You Won’t Even Believe It is a vanilla bean base with both broken chocolate oreos and broken vanilla oreos. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the kid packed so many cookies into his ice cream that it could have been eaten with a fork.

That’s my boy!

With all the good stuff going into the ice cream flavors, you might think that it be too hard to pick a winner–and you’d be right. We voted for a three-way tie for First Place in the Ice Cream Challenge. After all–you really can’t go wrong with ice cream because even when it’s bad, it’s still good. Amiright?

If you happen to have a nifty ice cream maker at home and would like to have an Ice Cream Challenge of your own, head over to Inside NanaBread’s Head and check out her recipe for Ben & Jerry’s The Complete Package’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream Base–it’s my new favorite starting point for all frozen confections. Whip up a batch, and let your imagination run wild coming up with new flavor combinations!

Not feeling that inspired? Well, Jeanne was kind enough to include variations for coffee, fruity, peanut butter, and mint-chip flavors as well. She does the thinking for you! I love that in a friend.


Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Makers

In case you are interested, I have this Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. It’s reasonably priced and works like a champ. You go from ice cream base to soft serve ice cream in just 20 minutes. (Although, I prefer to freeze my ice cream overnight for a firmer texture.) I bought my Cuisinart from my BFF Janis, but you can easily find them on ebay or amazon. It also makes great fruit juice slushies and granitas.

Not-So-Fineprint: the folks at Cuisinart, Ben & Jerry’s, and Magic Shell have no idea who the heck I am. They did not in any way compensate me for this post, although if any of them want to market their ice cream flavors, the Sons are entertaining offers. 😉


And while I’m in full-on sharing mode, if you ever have a group of kiddos in need of a marketing lesson, here’s the proposal that I created for the basis of this project:

Marketing Proposals

What would you like to market?

What/who is your target audience?

Describe the product in detail:

Where/how would you sell this product? What kind of packaging is required?

What are some challenges involved in selling your product?

What is your target pricing model? (Think about: How much do all the ingredients cost? How much time/effort is involved in manufacturing the product?  What costs are required to sell the product?)

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  1. says

    I love these food challenges you have with your kids. It’s certainly a fun time for the entire family and a wonderful learning opportunity. All the flavours they came up with look great as does their *marketing* strategies. Love the *100% Homemade* (smart)

  2. says

    Um, the brown-ice cream-bear thing left me in tears at work this AM. I DIE.

    See also: Son #3 can make his ice cream for me any day, I’m pretty sure I order something vaguely similar and 99% less satisfying from McDonalds when I get a McFlurry with extra Oreos.

  3. says

    Frankly, I’d sit down and eat a bowl of all three. They did an excellent job, and I love that each of their creations was totally different. As for marketing, I’d buy anything that said it was ‘so brown two bears would fight over it.’ It’s a pretty convincing pitch. Thanks for the linky love on TCP’s ice cream base. His head will never fit into the pantry to retrieve our ice cream maker ever again.

  4. says

    What a great mom you are! Your boys are learning about preparing food, but also about budgeting, marketing and sales. What a great learning experience – and a terrific outcome.


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