Will orange-cream combo challenge pumpkin spice for seasonal flavor champ? – Daily News

on Apr24
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Good Humor ice cream’s ad notes its Creamsicles are only a 100-calorie treat. (Courtesy: Unilever)

I have to admit to a certain weakness for creamsicles.

The curious mixing of orange and vanilla into an ice cream treat had long been a personal favorite, and it seems that a flock of product managers for noteworthy food brands have similar feelings. Various spins on orange and cream have made this classic combo a hot item again in 2022 on menu boards and grocery shelves.

Now, it’s a good bet this springtime splurge is simply a timely marketing play pushing a popular flavor. Food trend watchers at Innova found that 44% of consumers say what they eat is most influenced by traditional or nostalgic flavors.

I’ve long wondered what might compete with pumpkin spice as the king of seasonal flavors. So, let’s consider who’s going with orange cream – some big names.

Start with the Wendy’s burger chain. The early 2024 twist on its signature Frosty sweet treat is its Orange Dreamsicle. “Travel back in time with sweet, nostalgic flavors,” the announcement states.

The April special at the Baskin-Robbins ice cream chain is Marigold Dreamsicle, a “bold mix of marigold and vanilla bean ice creams paired with a refreshing orange swirl.”

The citrus/dairy combo also returned at Wienerschnitzel. The hot dog chain debuted an orange soda float last year and this year added an Orange Cream Shake and Orange Cream Dipped Cone to the menu.

Next, ponder the East Coast ice cream chain Carvel. It’s celebrating its 90th year by reviving a 1970s hit – the Orange Dreamy Creamy soft-serve flavor.

“The ultimate throwback to hot summers, ice cream truck jingles, and orange cream pops,” a Carvel statement says.

Then there’s yogurt maker Chobani’s new desserts – six flavors including Orange Cream Pop. And entertainer Snoop Dogg’s Dr. Bombay Ice Cream won space at Albertsons grocery stores with Iced Out Orange Cream as one flavor.

Or just wait until August 14. It’s “National Creamsicle Day” to celebrate.

Long story

Who knew that the lineage of this classic taste dates to a California entrepreneur?

In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson left a fruit-flavored drink on his Oakland porch overnight with a stirring stick in it. Freezing temperatures resulted in a frozen soda on a stick – inspiring what was first known as his “Epsicle” iced treat.

Yet the classic orange-and-cream combo wasn’t created until after a financially strapped Epperson sold his business – by then making what were called “Popsicles” – in the late 1920s. New owners, Joe Lowe Co., made the first Creamsicle in 1937.

And this history has had its share of corporate drama, too.

Joe Lowe’s Popsicle brand – making primarily fruit-juice treats – and Good Humor – producing largely milk-based ices – tangled in lengthy litigation over patents roughly a century ago in what was dubbed the “Frozen Sucker Wars”.

Ownership of the two competitors changed a few times in the past century, ending with today’s odd status – Popsicle and Good Humor are now sister companies owned by food giant Unilever.

Creamy questions

So why do businesses frequently come up with similar ideas at the same time? Do great minds think alike?

In 2024, orange cream has all the ingredients to be a grand “limited-time offer” flavor – a known taste with a seasonal summertime flair.

At Halloween last year, for example, Disneyland offered churros with orange cream dipping sauce. Walt Disney World’s new food offerings this spring include an Orange Cream Milk Shake.

Orange cream does have an old-school feel that can satisfy today’s widespread yearnings for yesteryear. Marketing gurus call this “newstalgia.”

There’s timing in play for springtime debuts. Citrus seems appealing as the weather warms out of winter.

Also, it can be a fresh, light taste. Not that orange-cream desserts are healthy, but Good Humor notes that Creamsicles are only a 100-calorie treat.

“A classic you can enjoy without guilt,” its website states.

Drink up

If orange cream could ever get near pumpkin spice status, it must morph beyond just desserts.

Hey, even the chain we all blame for pioneering the pumpkin spice mania are supposedly joining the orange wave. A soon-to-be-released Starbucks snack is rumored to be an orange cream cake pop.

Other new products are drinkable.

The Faygo line of sodas recently added Dreamin Orange Creme, which it said “is sure to evoke nostalgic memories”. And Ghost energy drink partnered with pro basketball’s Phoenix Suns to offer an “orange cream” flavor available only at the team’s arena.

This buzz includes adult beverages.

After MolsonCoors’ Vizzy Hard Seltzer had success last year with its Orange Cream Pop flavor, it teamed with Hardscoop to sell a frozen alcoholic treat with a citrus-milky taste.

Detroit City Distillery early this year released an orange-cream-flavored potato vodka. Last year, Ole Smoky Distillery debuted Orange Shinesicle Cream Moonshine. Sunshine Punch, a creamy orange rum and vodka cocktail in a bottle, also hit the market.

Finally, you know something’s hot when its absence is newsworthy.

Cadbury received some consumer pushback in Britain last holiday season when a popular candy collection was missing one flavor. Apparently, chocolates filled with “tangy orange creme” were unavailable due to supply chain issues.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

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