Warmer weather brings promises of loosening restrictions and growing demand for satisfying treats.

This year, diners are ready for summer, not only because of the promise of warmer weather, but also because they hope they might soon see a loosening of pandemic restrictions as vaccinations rollout nationwide. However, while consumers plan for the end of school, travel, and beach vacations, restaurants are also adapting their summer menus.

“Since we kind of missed the summer of 2020, there will definitely be pent-up cravings for going out and about and satisfying our sweet tooth that ice cream and topping pairings can satisfy,” says Mark Harm, vice president of food sales for Ferrero USA, Inc. “Now is the perfect time for ice cream shops and restaurants to review their ice cream and topping offerings and find pairings that go together, like Nutella and toast.”

In order to prepare for this higher-than-normal demand, Harm says restaurants should plan their summer treat offerings with variety in mind.

“Most people don’t go out to the same place and have the same meal or treat every time,” Harm says. “That favorite spot is a favorite because of the variety it offers. Consumers want the variety, both at home and even more so when they go out. Having interesting toppings—whether your old favorites or something brand new—to go with your favorite ice cream are the kind of little indulgences consumers love.”

Providing a wide array of ice cream toppings is an easy way to introduce that much-craved variety to a restaurant menu without significantly increasing operational costs or complexity. Additionally, a good mix of toppings can not only give guests the power to customize their treats, but also draw in customers, too. This is especially true of ingredients from established household brands, which Harm notes “have a great track-record of providing the consumer a pleasant eating experience. Think of your favorite candy bar, like Butterfinger®, and add it to your favorite ice cream—this is a great marriage.”

To help brands more effectively increase their ice cream menu variety, Ferrero USA, Inc., is now offering three topping selections from iconic candy brands: Butterfinger, BabyRuth®, and CRUNCH®. With just these three selections, restaurants can add a wide array of flavor and textural experiences to their dessert offerings, as well as a range of innovative new combinations.

“We have seen some restaurants do their own crazy—and I use crazy here in a very positive way—mashups,” Harm says. “For example, Butterfinger with white chocolate brownie pieces for a sundae creates a unique crunchy and soft brownie mouth feel that can ignite all the senses for customers.”

Though the pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the restaurant industry and to consumers, this coming summer brings the promise of a return to the new normal, and, with that, a return to more traditional summer dining occasions.

“It is going to be a great summer season, and many families will be reconnecting with life. Of course, this includes going out for ice cream with their favorite toppings,” Harm says. “Restaurants should check with their local distributors to ensure they are stocking these items for the coming season.”

To learn more about how to improve dessert menu variety for summer, visit the Ferrero USA, Inc., website.

By Peggy Carouthers

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