Consumers Scream for Ice Cream as Treat Gains Snack Status

NATIONAL REPORT — Ice cream is now more than just a dessert treat, new research shows. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say that ice cream is their favorite food to eat in the summer, according to a new online survey from Mars Ice Cream conducted by Harris Poll. Millennials are the age group most likely to name it their favorite.

Additionally, Americans are twice as likely to name ice cream over pie (27 percent), and prefer ice cream over savory favorites like burgers (63 percent), hot dogs/brats (52 percent) and ribs (45 percent). The perfect location for eating ice cream varies widely. Nearly half (48 percent) of millennials say "in bed watching TV" is where they choose to enjoy ice cream, while 18 percent of Americans eat it on the go in their cars.

More than 2,000 adults in the United States took part in the June poll.

"Summer is synonymous with ice cream. Whether you prefer your ice cream on a stick, in a bowl or as a handheld bar, National Ice Cream Month is the perfect time to enjoy familiar favorites like Snickers Ice Cream Bars, M&M's Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches and Dove Ice Cream Bars," said Flip Block, marketing director, Mars Chocolate North America. "It's a perfect time to celebrate by enjoying a frozen treat that pairs delicious, real ice cream with the delectable Mars chocolate taste that consumers know and love."

Additionally, a new Packaged Facts survey shows that frozen dessert consumption is so common that 86 percent of the population reports eating ice cream all year round. Additionally, the proportion of American households and individuals who eat it is so high that there is little "spiking" of consumption, either above or below the norm, among any segments by age, ethnicity, income, education or region, according to Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts in the U.S.: Opportunities in Retail and Foodservice, 8th Edition.

Even in an increasingly health-conscious climate, ice cream has transcended the confines traditionally placed on desserts for many consumers. Not only will consumers eat ice cream any time of the year, they will eat it any time of the day, changing its status from dessert to snack food.

"Far more respondents to Packaged Facts' survey eat ice cream as a snack rather than as a dessert, and they enjoy it throughout the day," stated David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. "More than half consider ice cream an evening snack, about one-quarter consume it as a late-night snack, and another one-quarter as an afternoon snack. Some even snack on ice cream in the morning. Of course, ice cream also serves as dessert, with nearly half eating it after dinner and 13 percent after lunch."

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