And who eats the most of the frozen treat.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated July 05, 2017
best ice cream flavors in the usa
Credit: Tetra Images / Getty Images

When choosing an ice cream flavor, the possibilities may seem more far-out than ever before, but when selling ice cream flavors, two old standbys still move the most volume: vanilla and chocolate. Those classics are the two best-selling ice cream flavors, in that order, according to the results of an International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) survey released in recognition of July being National Ice Cream Month.

To conduct its survey, the IDFA reached out to both its members who make and market ice cream as well as members of the National Ice Cream Retailers Association. After crunching the numbers, vanilla and chocolate came in one and two, followed by Cookies N’ Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. But as IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs Cary Frye explained, vanilla’s dominance may stem less from consumer’s love of the flavor, and more from its versatility. “Vanilla has long been the best-selling ice cream flavor not only because it is creamy and delicious, but also because of its ability to enhance so many other desserts and treats,” said Frye. “It tastes great topped by whipped cream and fudge sauce in a sundae, with root beer in a float or atop a warm slice of apple pie.”

Beyond uncovering the top five flavors, the IDFA’s survey also revealed that, when it comes to ingredients, pecans are the most popular nut and strawberries are the most popular fruit. Waffle cones and sugar cones were the equally popular places for consumers to shove their icy treats. And ice cream sandwiches beat out ice cream cups, pops, cones and bars respectively as the most popular ice cream novelty items.

As far as where people eat the most ice cream, the Great Lakes region – composed of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin – was designated as the most successful and most served market in the US. The Southwest, Plains and Mideast regions were the next biggest ice cream regions. They’re all part of an ice cream industry that the IDFA says contributed $39 billion to the US economy and provides jobs for a mind-boggling 188,000 people across the country.

Meanwhile, for those looking for a broader portrait of popular flavors, last week, Ben & Jerry’s – whose parent company Unilever is an IDFA member – also revealed its top selling flavors in honor of National Ice Cream Month. Turns out fans of the hippie Vermont duo are a bit more experimental. That brand’s top flavor was Half Baked – described as “Chocolate & Vanilla Ice Creams mixed with Gobs of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & Fudge Brownies.” Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and The Tonight Dough rounded out Ben & Jerry’s top five. And before you ask, yes, Ben & Jerry’s does make plain old vanilla.