My colleague Claire Phoenix (editor of 'Beverage Innovation') drew my attention to a story on the BBC website from a correspondent in Venezuela.
The piece was about an ice cream parlour that offered 860 different flavours. As the reporter Will Grant observed, you might imagine that such an establishment would be in Italy or the US, but it's actually in the Venezuelan city of Merida.
The mind boggles at the thought of making a choice from 860 flavours, although apparently only about 60 a day are on show. But even 60 may need a fair bit of consideration before the choice is made.
It reminded me of a story I heard from a guy who ran an ice cream parlour in a seaside town in the northeast of England. Having been to a number of events organised by the UK trade body, the Ice Cream Alliance, our ice cream maker decided to be bold and increase the range of flavours beyond the standard strawberry, vanilla and chocolate. I think he ended up with a range between 20-30. A good choice for any potential customer, you would think.
Now, out of the main school holiday season, a lot of his customers were pensioners who visited the seaside resort as members of a coach party. So, every so often, a coach load of 40-50 of these visitors would descend on his ice cream parlour. They marvelled at the wonderful choice of ice cream flavours on offer, commenting that they had never seen such a variety before. And wasn't it great to have more than the usual offerings.
It led to lots of discussion and fierce debate about which flavour to choose. No one seemed brave enough to make the first choice. Eventually, one person stepped forward and makes a decision, announcing that they'll have 'strawberry please'.
"And guess what?" said the ice cream parlour man. "The whole bus load then chose strawberry."
I hope the man in Merida has plenty of strawberry ice cream.
Geoff Platt is editor of Dairy Innovation magazine. He’s also active on LinkedIn.
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