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7-Eleven Stirs Up the Freezer Case

DALLAS, TEXAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. has teamed up with Wells' Dairy Inc., the maker of Blue Bunny ice cream, to create Stir Crazy, the first stir-able, soft-serve treat available in the freezer case.

Each cup of the creamy, soft-serve-style vanilla dairy product comes with one of two mix-ins -- chocolate chip cookie dough or Oreo cookie pieces -- separated by a thin layer of soft milk chocolate. Available in an 11-ounce cup with a suggested retail price of $1.99, Stir Crazy will be offered exclusively at participating 7-Eleven stores.

7-Eleven approached Wells' Dairy three years ago about creating a product that could be sold as a frozen novelty in its stores in response to the popularity of frozen blender treats and made-to-order cold surface-blended ice creams.

“Soft-serve frozen desserts typically have been exclusively available through foodservice establishments,” said Jessica Strauss, 7-Eleven's category manager overseeing the product's development. “We wanted to offer our customers a similar type of product in a convenient way.”

After three years of trial and error attempts, the Wells team finally reached success with the concept. “We had two huge challenges,” said Matt Wolkow, assistant vice president of research and development for Wells' Dairy. “First, soft-serve is typically dispensed from a machine at between 19 and 23 degrees while retail freezer case temperatures stay between 0 and minus 10 degrees. How could we get soft-serve to behave like soft-serve at 0 degrees? And, if we could accomplish that, could we make it taste good?”

The Wells' R&D team then added a thin layer of milk chocolate to separate the soft-serve from the mix-ins, a step that required the addition of new technology and equipment in the production phase.

Response to Stir Crazy in taste tests was very positive, although some participants were skeptical at first. “Our tasters didn't believe you could have true soft-serve right out of the freezer,” said Ken Reuter, marketing director for the Wells' Dairy foodservice and impulse category. “But tasting is believing. Once they tried Stir Crazy, mixed it and ate it, they were sold.”
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