Extreme Ice Cream

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Ice cream isn't just kid stuff. More ice cream is consumed in July than at any other time of the year, and if the new flavor trends are any indication, more of this year's consumers will be adults. Tish Boyle, food editor of Chocolatier Magazine, says she is seeing a huge influx of creative and luxury ice cream. "This year the ice cream industry is expanding and transforming to fit the changing palates of ice cream consumers," she says. Get ready for flavors like Cinnamon Basil.

Manufacturers have also launched a push to make ice cream as accessible as soda and snacks by rolling out vending machines in convenience stores, gas stations and video stores that serve up frozen treats.

At the extreme end of the grownup-taste spectrum, a Dutch company has introduced Freaky Ice, pops that come in three alcohol-fueled flavors: tequila, vodka and a cocktail blend. The pops, which are 4.8% real alcohol, are already a hit with international clubgoers. Meanwhile, an English company has launched a beer ice cream with the nutty, caramelized taste of Newcastle Brown Ale.

As Americans' ice cream palates go gourmet, even traditional formulations are taking on a more sophisticated edge. Neuhaus, the Belgian chocolatier, has brought its superpremium ice cream to the U.S. for the first time, in the form of Snobinettes Glace, which are chocolate shells filled with ultrarich vanilla, coffee or chocolate ice cream. An ice cream and sorbet maker in Dallas called Out of a Flower uses herbs, teas and edible flowers to create its exotic flavors, which include Tequila & Cilantro, Rosemary & Black Peppercorn and Texas Goat Fromage Blanc & Roasted Hazelnuts.

French food emporium Fauchon also relies on herbal and floral notes for its Rose Petal, Toulouse Violet, Raspberry Chili Pepper and Mandarin Orange-Ginger ice creams. At New York City's Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Jon F. Snyder, who grew up working in his grandmother's Carvel franchise, makes 75 rotating varieties of intensely flavored ice creams and sorbets with selections like Lavender, Rice, Green Grape and a Black Plum that tastes fruitier than the actual fruit.