Girl enjoying ice cream

Here in Washington State, we have a running joke that summer doesn’t actually start until July 5th. And while our Independence Day cookouts are often chilly and cloudy, it doesn’t stop us from enjoying summery foods. And now that the weather matches our spirits, we’ve got ice cream on the brain — as do most Americans, it turns out.  

According to Instacart’s internal sales data, the shopping service delivers 22% more ice cream per customer in July (which happens to be National Ice Cream Month) compared to the yearly average.1 Traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan and cookie dough remain top favorites,2 but there’s no shortage of innovative flavors hitting cold cases this summer.  

Some brands are leaning into cultural trends via collaborations. Van Leeuwen — known for its premium, simple ingredients and stunt flavors — had a major moment with the release of its Sabrina Carpenter Espresso flavor, named after the pop star’s hit single that many are calling the “song of summer.”3 However, you may recall from our recent podcast that celebrity collaborations can be a double-edged sword…and it’s not Sabrina’s “spicy” lyrics that are making waves here. While many consumers loved the flavor and were delighted by the natural brand alignment, others expressed frustration around the $60 minimum online purchase to qualify for shipping.  

Still, premium brands like Van Leeuwen are well-suited for low-stakes discovery and novel products that surprise and delight. According to our Future of Snacking 2024 study, 62% of consumers say they have “premium-quality snacks” at least once a week,4 and specific retailers have caught on. As noted in Ideas in Food 2024, Walmart continues to position itself as a destination for exploration and premium products by partnering with brands like Van Leeuwen on flavors exclusive to the retailer.   

While it may not be viral per se, the “swicy” trend continues to dominate the snack space — and ice cream is a natural fit for the expression. Marco Sweets & Spices is a prominent player, with flavors like Spicy Peanut Butter Caramel, Aztec Chocolate and Vanilla Chai featuring spices like cinnamon, aleppo pepper, chile de arbol and ancho chile. However, a precautionary recall due to a listeria outbreak at their manufacturing partner’s plant is certainly unfortunate timing heading into peak ice cream season.  

In terms of specific flavors, cardamom is popping up on more pints as global flavors gain popularity. Alec’s Ice Cream — a brand dialed into other consumer priorities like regenerative agriculture and gut health — just launched its Maple Cardamom Candied Pecan flavor. We also see brands like Adirondak Creamery playing with global spices: their Kashmiri Kahwa flavor is flavored with cinnamon, cardamom and saffron. 

Some brands are even inspiring consumers make their own homemade swicy ice cream at home. Mike’s Hot Honey has a recipe for homemade “Extra Hot Ice Cream,” and Frank’s RedHot is promoting “Sweet & Spicy RedHot Ice Cream” — both featuring a vanilla ice cream base and flavored with their signature sauces.  

We could go on forever about all the innovative brands heating up the cold case, but we need a snack break. So join us in grabbing a bowl (or cone…or pint…) of ice cream and consider what ideas these flavorful trends could spark for your business.  


1. “Instacart Scoops Up America’s Favorite Ice Cream Picks in Every State,”  Instacart, July 2023  

2. “Ice Cream & Frozen Novelty Trends Survey,” International Dairy Foods Association, May 2024  

3. “Sabrina Carpenter's 'Espresso' makes an early run at 'song of the summer' status,” NBC News, May 2024  

4. Future of Snacking 2024: Balancing Intent with Indulgence, Hartman Group