Frozen Dessert

This Is, Surprisingly, the Most Popular Ice Cream Flavor in America

Plus, the breakdown across all 50 states.

by:
May 31, 2019
Photo by Mark Weinberg

Now that it’s officially ice cream season, punctuated joyfully by the siren song of neighborhood ice cream trucks in neighborhoods all across America, it’s time to dig in whether you’re a neat eater (with an ice cream cone that never drips) or a dyed-in-the-wool mess maker who needs a cone and a backup cup (like me).

As it turns out, across this frozen treat–seeking country, our taste profiles are pretty diverse! According to a revealing new study from Workwise—a company that develops sales and customer relations software—Americans are fairly divided when it comes to their ice cream of choice.

For instance, in California, the most-Googled and presumably most-purchased flavor was tutti frutti, while Arizona, with which it shares a border, is devoted to mango. D.C., our nation’s capital, favors the elegant stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate strips), and Michigan prefers a flavor of its own making: a red, blue, and yellow number called Superman.

But there is one flavor that comes out on top, as the most popular flavor in America, by virtue of the fact that it’s the top-searched flavor across 14 of our 50 states. At the risk of sounding clickbait-y, the answer may surprise you:

It’s cookies and cream!

This surprised me, even though my own favorite flavor is technically a variation: Ben & Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I assure you that Tutti Frutti is not the most popular ice cream in California, in fact it's not easy to find, and I doubt beer ice cream is actually consumed in any quantity anywhere. Vanilla is the most consumed pretty much everywhere, partly because it appears in a lot of combinations and ice cream bars and such, but what's to google?”
— Smaug
Comment

What is it about cookies and cream that makes it so popular, even though the rest of the data is so spread out? Maybe it’s the flavor that ice cream shops truly excel at, or maybe we’re suckers for alliteration. If you’re reading this from behind an ice cream shop counter, I’d love to know! Do you notice more people ordering cookies and cream than any other flavor?

Second place, with just five states’ worth of votes, was vanilla, followed by a tie between chocolate, peppermint, and strawberry (four states).

But it's the state-to-state differences that really stand out. Did you know that Connecticut flocks to beer ice cream, while Pennsylvania digs something called teaberry? It "looks like Pepto-Bismol and tastes like wintergreen," according to one source, and is again, native to its state. And if you thought the Northeast was weird, you might be interested to know that the most popular flavor in Ohio is pumpkin.

Outside of the continental U.S., Alaska prefers chocolate, while Hawaii is all about strawberry. Overall, we’re more of a chocolate ice cream nation than a vanilla one, with chocolate preferred by ice cream lovers across 33 states.

I’ll close by saying that I’m pleasantly surprised by our national variety and loyalty to state-made ice cream flavors. I'd love to know if this list is missing any secret locals-only flavors, and if you agree with this study's appointment of America's most popular ice cream flavor.

Is cookies and cream your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Joanie922
    Joanie922
  • Beth
    Beth
  • judy
    judy
  • NuMystic
    NuMystic
  • Bob Bahr
    Bob Bahr
Comment
Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady

70 Comments

Joanie922 June 7, 2019
Based upon the feedback, I'm surprised that Food52 doesn't poll its readers on favorite ice cream. Seriously, this article proves that what you read on the Internet is not always factual.
 
Beth June 7, 2019
My home state, Missouri, was left off the list & the genius from Workwise who created the list thinks DC is a state. Makes me question data used.
 
judy June 7, 2019
The survey is a phony for sure. I purchase ice cream at least once a week in the winter and 3-4 x week otherwise. Cherry ice cream is not the favorite of Massachusetts devotees! A typical supermarket offers multiple varieties of Vanilla and maybe 1 or 2 variations of black cherry. I don't see it often in independent ice cream shops. The only possibility is if the survey focused on Ben & Jerry's and possibly Cherry Garcia might make the top 10.
 
NuMystic June 6, 2019
The study cited is about Google search volume which in no way “presumably” represents actual popularity or sales.

The people who put this “study” together and the editor who approved this piece should be ashamed of themselves.
 
Bob B. June 6, 2019
i don't believe anything about this story. Sounds like it just came off the top of the writer's head.
 
Mary June 6, 2019
I have lived I California my whole life , never had tutti Frutti, I think something is wrong with that so called survey
 
Jennifer W. June 6, 2019
I’ve lived in MA for 45 years and have never even seen cherry ice cream?

 
Briana June 6, 2019
Really?! I have lived in California my entire life and have NEVER seen Tutti Frutti on any ice cream menu. I had to google it just to find out what it was. Nope.
 
Lisa H. June 6, 2019
I'm from California, and my favorite is chocolate. What is TUTTI FRUTTI?
 
Smaug June 6, 2019
Asked and answered- it is a song by Little Richard, a chain of ice cream parlors, a frozen yogurt store, a type of baby food, a market farm, and an old school Italian ice cream with various preserved fruits in it. Between them they've apparently generated a lot of Google searches between them.
 
Nance June 6, 2019
What you describe, I remember as spumoni. The most popular in CA? I really doubt it.
 
Smaug June 7, 2019
Spumoni is something different- it is a three layer ice cream (not to be confused with Neapolitan); one of the layers typically contains some fruit and nuts. Dreyer's has a pretty good version.
 
lbgirl June 6, 2019
Something is wrong here. I've never heard of Tutti Frutti ice cream being sold here in California, let alone it being the most popular. I most recently lived in Vermont, and the only ice cream I remember anyone getting excited about was maple, not chocolate chip cookie dough. And unless things have changed very dramatically, the other two states I've lived in are also misrepresented. Teaberry in Pennsylvania? Really? And mango in Illinois? I don't think so!
 
Patti B. June 5, 2019
Um, no. CT does not favor beer ice cream. There is, however, a beer called "Ice Cream Man" from Backeast Brewery, which is located in Connecticut. As many others have said, just because someone googles something does not mean it's their favorite--or that the context is accurate.
 
Jess B. June 3, 2019
I'm from VA and have never once seen or heard about tiger tail ice cream. I think googled =/= purchased.
 
Kate K. June 4, 2019
Yeah. I've also never seen tiger tail ice cream in VA, despite eating most of my life's ice cream there. (Sno to Go in Williamsburg has tiger's blood shaved ice, but that's pretty different.)
 
Joanie922 June 3, 2019
I'm from Connecticut and have never come across Beer flavored ice cream. I know of an ice cream truck that promotes alcohol flavored ice creams, but I don't think Beer flavored is on menu.
 
Smaug June 2, 2019
If nothing else this article did two things for me; it got me to make a batch of pumpkin ice cream, which I hadn't done for a long time, and it got me to google (actually Bing) tutti Frutti; the first page of results included a Wikipedia article on the ice cream, various references to the song by Little Richard, an ice cream parlor chain, a frozen yoghurt chain that may or may not be the same, a baby food and a market farm. Maybe I'll try page 2 tomorrow.
 
creamtea June 2, 2019
hmmm, "most googled" therefore "most purchased"? Sounds like a logical fallacy to me.
 
Brian L. June 2, 2019
Somebody’s pulling your leg. Beer ice cream? 63 years old, 63 years in CT. No one I know has ever heard of beer ice cream, never tasted it, never searched it. Google search results are not a reliable source of anything. But this article will have tens of people searching ‘beer ice cream’, and hoping they never have to eat it. Now maybe bacon ice cream, lol.
 
Sarah June 1, 2019
Tutti Frutti isn’t a flavor, it’s a chain where you can get ice cream in California lol. It’s might be googled in correlation to ice cream but it itself is not ice cream
 
Smaug June 1, 2019
It certainly is a flavor, been around forever. I suppose the chain took it's name from that, but all of those Google searches may have been theirs.
 
Tara V. June 2, 2019
Sure tutti fruitti is a flavor however the other comment shows the fatal flaw of this article- what people google does not equal what their favorite flavor is.
 
Smaug June 2, 2019
A point that has been made consistently from the first comment on the article- evidently people do know it, but these articles keep appearing. Writers in search of subjects can get pretty desperate, the sports page being an extreme example.
 
local G. June 1, 2019
I live in PA and have never heard of teaberry ice cream! Black raspberry is popular, also chocolate peanut butter. There used to be teaberry chewing gum a long time ago, but ice cream? Somebody is pulling your leg!
 
Stephanie B. June 1, 2019
No leg pulling here! I lived in PA for 6 years and came across teaberry - it was a seasonal thing and not available for very long, but it came around every year. I think it's more common the closer you get to Amish country. But I agree black raspberry is a more popular flavor.
 
Matt H. June 1, 2019
I googled teaberry, and the first suggestion google made for me was "teaberry ice cream". The first google search result was for Penn State's creamery, and the first targeted ad was for yuengling's creamery. It definitely sounds like something deeply ingrained in PA culture.
 
local G. June 1, 2019
Hmmm. Not doubting your truthfulness, but I'm kind of surprised that I've lived here for all but 19 years of my life and have never heard of it. Gonna check with my nephew and my great-nephew (Penn State alum and current student) and see if they've experienced this flavor!
 
Stephanie B. June 1, 2019
I didn't see it at Penn State's creamery, but to be honest I didn't like their creamery much so I didn't go often enough to keep track. If you're ever in the area go to Meyer Dairy instead of Penn State's creamery - they're more likely to have teaberry and the ice cream is better all around. I can imagine teaberry is a pain in the ass to harvest enough of to yield quantities for anything even remotely large scale, so I'm not surprised it's so uncommon.
 
Tara V. June 2, 2019
Is it a thing? Yes. Is it deeply ingrained in PA culture? No. It is searched here more than elsewhere because when people see or here about it no one knows what it is and need to look it up. It may not be available in other states or might have originated here but very few places serve it and those that do only have it occasionally. So no. Most people in PA that you ask about tea berry ice cream are going to never have heard of it.
 
Bevi June 2, 2019
As a side story, Ben and Jerry took an ice cream course at Penn State.
 
Peony June 3, 2019
I used to get it at our local mall in NW PA in the late 80s and I LOVED it
 
kate June 3, 2019
Teaberry is amazing!! They serve it seasonally at a local dairy in Lancaster called Pine View.
 
Kate K. June 4, 2019
My sister and I lived for teaberry ice cream whenever we visited our grandparents in the nineties (they lived near Lock Haven). We used to get Sunset's version at the fair and Weiss's brand for home. Incidentally, black raspberry and chocolate peanut butter were our next favorites. (They're hard to find, but there are tiny, red nonpareil-like candies flavored with teaberry. They're perfect for decorating sugar cookies.)
 
Angela M. June 1, 2019
Everyone in Michigan SAYS Superman or Blue Moon, but that's really just because we know it's a local thing.
 
Valerie S. June 1, 2019
I still love superman but my fav really is hudsonville's grand traverse bay cherry fudge
 
Angela M. June 1, 2019
Hudsonville Deer Traxx for me ;)
 
BerryBaby June 1, 2019
Coconut milk....ice cream? Doubtful.
People drink coconut milk and use it in cooking quite a bit here in Oregon, but have never seen the ice cream. Berry ice cream in the summer is very popular...chocolate peanut is a big favorite, as are a zillion other combinations. I've seen many lists stating Oregon's favorites and they vary from Coffee to strawberry to cookie dough. The favorite is whatever you like!
 
Fred C. June 1, 2019
Just a thought, do they have a dairy free ice cream option around there? The base would be coconut to freeze and can flavor it anything u desire..