Fresh Food

The Holiday Ice Creams of Shoppers' Dreams

Publix, Walmart, Meijer and more put out their holiday-best frozen treats
Publix 2021 holiday ice creams
Photograph courtesy of Publix

For those ready to ditch the pumpkin spice for peppermint and gingerbread, grocers and creameries across the country are eager to embrace shoppers' holiday flavor cravings in indulgent new ice creams and frozen desserts.

Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix last week rolled out its 2021 lineup of own-brand holiday ice creams, featuring six returning flavors and two new additions. Making their debut this year are salted caramel toffee crunch, with salted-caramel ice cream, toffee-flavored swirls and pieces of cocoa pretzel bark; andpraline pecan bread pudding, with the same salted-caramel base plus bread-pudding pieces, salted-caramel ribbons and bourbon-flavored praline pecans. Among the returning favorites are deep-dish apple pie, snickerdoodle and marshmallow, candy cane and cookie blast. All of the holiday flavors are available in Publix stores now through January.

Walmart stores in Michigan are the exclusive place to find new Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes icecream, produced by Holland, Mich.-based Hudsonville Ice Cream. The pints, which retail for $2.50, have a base of white-cake-flavored ice cream and feature pound-cake pieces, green sprinkles and red-frosting swirls in a nod to Little Debbie's seasonal snack cakes. Hudsonville's peppermint-stick ice cream is returning to Meijer and Kroger grocery stores in Michigan. 

Columbus, Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, available at the company's scoop shops as well as independent grocers and large-chain retailersincluding Target, Meijer, Jewel-Osco (an Alberstons banner) and Mariano's (a Kroger banner)—will debut its holiday lineup in stores on Nov. 4, Chicago Food Magazine reported. New offerings are pistachio macaron andMexican hot chocolate; making a repeat appearance are cognac with gingerbread, white-chocolate peppermint and sugar plum (with amaretti cookies, plum jam and plum-wine sweet cream).

Perry's Ice Cream, which debuted Doughing, Doughing, Gone! in partnership with MLB's Cleveland Indians in Giant Eagle stores this spring, announced the return of Friendsgiving ice cream at retailers including Tops and Save A Lot stores near the company's Akron, N.Y., hometown. The limited-edition offering, inspired by thumbprint cookies, features almond ice cream, blackberry swirls and sugar-cookie-flavored cookie-dough pieces. Also, after a five-year hiatus, the coconut-rum-flavored Zero Visibility is back for the holiday 2021 season.

Ice-cream fans keen on nostalgic holiday-table tastes have tempting choices, too, in two seasonally appropriatebut available year-roundflavors from Creamalicious. Founded by chef Liz Rogers the flavors include Thick as Thieves Pecan Pie (butter pecan with praline pecans, pie-crust chunks and caramel swirls) and Grandma Gigi's Sweet Potato Pie (with pie-crust chunks and brown-sugar swirls). Creamalicious, the company's website notes, is the only Black-owned national ice cream brand with placement in Walmart, Target, Schnucks, Meijer, Rouses and other large grocery retailers throughout the Midwest, South and Southern California.

For those whose treat tastes run not as cold, Trader Joe's recently introduced Cranberry Orange Bars, available in the frozen case and featuring a shortbread crust topped with cranberry-orange purée. The precut, kosher bars are sold 12 to a box for $4.99 and are meant to thaw at room temperature for one hour before serving.

As many consumers get ready for still-smaller-than-pre-COVID holiday gatherings, convenient and seasonally inspired frozen fare, including frozen desserts, can help fill in the blanks for more-intimate holiday meals, 210 Analytics President Anne Marie Roerink suggests. As of September, just more than half (51%) of grocery shoppers surveyed by IRI and 210 Analytics said they expected COVID-19 to have some impact on their holiday plans, and this holiday season is likely to see something of a repeat of 2020's COVID-shifted holiday shopping, with consumers making more grocery purchases online and making fewer but larger grocery trips. That phenomenon, Roerink wrote in September, favors frozen foods—including, maybe, creative seasonal ice cream flavors to share with close friends and family (the ones who don't judge store-bought potluck contributions).



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