The local bakery has once again proven to be a place of inspiration for ice cream makers, as a concoction called Sticky Buns was chosen as the Most Innovative Ice Cream Flavor at IDFA’s Ice Cream Technology Conference.

The ice cream flavor contest, sponsored by Dairy Foods, also recognized Purity Dairy’s Purity 98% Fat Free Chocolate as the winner of the Best Lowfat Chocolate category.

Sticky Buns is a limited edition premium flavor from Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.  The company describes it as sticky bun flavored ice cream with a cinnamon streusel variegate sauce, sticky bun dough pieces, and praline midget pecans.

Laura Johnson, R&D mgr. at Publix, says the Sticky Buns flavor has a lot going for it.

“It’s a very identifiable flavor,” she says. “It really speaks cinnamon and the dough pieces are great. Doughy flavors have been very popular, and it’s nostalgic, with nice flavors and aromas.”

The flavor comes in a half-gal squround, with bright, colorful graphics.

“We introduce three new flavors every quarter and they are in special packaging with a unique design that reflects the flavor concept,” Johnson says.  

Publix took the top prize from a slate of 13 entries. The company was thrilled to receive the award, says Jay Jaskiewicz, dir. of dairy manufacturing. 

“We really appreciate it,” Jaskiewicz says.  “It makes the ice cream people feel real good about the job they are doing and it gives us great national exposure.”

Purity Dairy, a Dean Foods Co., based in Nashville, Tenn., has just “Churned” its light line, using a stabilizer system from a major ingredient supplier. The chocolate is one of four flavors in the line that are doing well in Purity’s midsouth market, says Plant Mgr. Ronnie Gaw.

“We knew we had a good product,” Gaw says. “But given the level of competition we were surprised to come out on top. There were some strong national brands, and regional brands, so we’re very honored.”

Gaw said the stabilizer system works very well, and that Purity uses the best ingredients available for all its products, but it was really a commitment to excellence from the R&D and production personnel that made 98% Fat Free Chocolate a winner.

“We have an R&D team here that watches the national brands and knows what the hottest trends are. All of our folks are committed to the product and the process,” Gaw says. “If a recipe calls for 23.4 lbs of stabilizer in a batch, that technician is not going to use 23 lbs or 24 lbs, he’s going to use 23.4 lbs, so we consistently have a good quality batch.”

In fact, Gaw says the sample that won out over five competitors came straight from a lot in storage. 

This year’s Ice Cream Technology Conference drew more than 120 attendees, which is one of the largest groups ever, says IDFA’s Cary Frye, the event’s chief organizer. 

“Every year the attendance continues to grow,” Frye said. “The ice cream processors  were well represented, from large companies like Dreyers/Nestle and Wells Blue Bunny to smaller companies like Perry’s and Yarnell’s.”

This year’s programming was also cutting edge, Frye said, with lots of discussion of adding a nutritional component to ice cream with things like Omega-3s and whey. There was an outstanding taste-and-talk program on flavor trends by Donna Berry, and a presentation by renowned dairy proteins expert Phil Tong. Bruce Tharp and Steve Young discussed their system for formulating sugar-free frozen desserts.

The conference took place Feb. 28-March 2 in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix, and included a mountain trail hike.