Turkey Hill Dairy samples its new flavor at an NFL game. Caramel Turtle Cheesecake ice cream is the latest from Blue Bell.

Summer historically brings out the best in ice cream innovations, and 2010 was no exception. The good news is that just because temperatures are dropping, marketers have not stopped creating frozen treats that tantalize the taste buds. 

At the beginning of September, Smith Dairy Products Co., Orrville, Ohio, debuted four new premium ice cream flavors. “We developed each of these four new delicious flavors based on recent research,” says Penny Baker, director of marketing. “We monitor trends closely so that we can tap into proven consumer preferences.”

Baker points out that cake-type ice cream flavors are third in popularity behind vanilla and chocolate, which makes new Ruggles Birthday Cake, a cake batter-flavored ice cream with a blue marshmallow swirl and multicolored sprinkles, likely to be a hit with consumers.

While chocolate is, of course, always a favorite, sales of ice cream incorporating chocolate flavors have actually risen in recent years, with a noticeable jump between 2008 and 2009. The other three new Ruggles flavors each address the increasing demand for more chocolate choices, although in different ways. Black Raspberry Chip, with a black raspberry ice cream base and chocolate chunks, is already a proven consumer favorite, since it has been a Ruggles Limited Edition flavor with sales exceeding expectations for two consecutive rotations. Double Fudge Brownie appeals to those consumers who want lots of chocolate, as it is chocolate ice cream with fudge brownie pieces and a fudge swirl. And finally, Peanut Butter Cup combines peanut butter ice cream with chocolate swirls and real miniature peanut butter cup candies. Not only does this flavor respond to the rising chocolate trend, it also talks to peanut butter cup fans, one of the top-five candy bars in consumer preference polls.

Pennsylvania’s number-one ice cream brand, Turkey Hill, produced by Lancaster County, Pa.-based Turkey Hill Dairy, kicked off football season with a brand new flavor in honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers called Blitzburgh Crunch. It features premium golden sweet cream vanilla ice cream loaded with smooth chocolate fudge swirl and chocolate cake crunchies.

Fans who left the September 2 pre-season game after halftime received a free sample. To further honor Steelers fans, the dairy is also holding a sweepstakes in which 30 lucky people will be selected to win free game tickets or Steelers merchandise, and one grand-prize winner will get a pair of season tickets for the 2011-2012 season.  The new flavor became available in grocery stores throughout Steelers’ country starting in September.

“There is something unique about Pittsburgh and Steelers fans,” says Turkey Hill President Quintin Frey. “Their spirit, drive and strength are legendary. We’re thrilled to now be an official part of that community and offer them a flavor all their own.”

And here’s a perfect autumn dessert: Caramel Turtle Cheesecake Ice Cream from Blue Bell, Brenham, Texas. This new limited edition flavor debuted September 1 and combines cheesecake-flavored ice cream with chocolate-coated caramel turtles, roasted pecans and cheesecake pieces with a chocolate cookie crust all surrounded by a smooth caramel sauce.      

“I’m not sure if there is anything else we could have squeezed into this half gallon,” says Paul Kruse, CEO and president. “We’ve taken all the flavorful ingredients in this popular cheesecake dessert and combined them with our ice cream. You’ll taste caramel, pecans and lots of cheesecake pieces in every bite. Dare I say our ice cream has an even richer flavor than the cheesecake itself?”