Food & Drink

The Problem With ‘Mystery Flavors’

I just love brilliant marketing ideas.

I respect them and in many cases, they make me jealous I didn’t think of them! And then there are those that make me shudder. Remember in the early 2000s when Heinz came up with their green ketchup. It was an overnight sensation and bumped up sales. But the brand was greedy so they introduced blue, then purple which floundered – after all how much ketchup does one family need?

No question kids just love brightly colored everything – including foods, but then as a last resort, a brand manager decided to try one more – a mystery bottle – where you had no idea what color the ketchup was. It could be orange, teal or purple. This brand manager, I suppose, just didn’t realize that parents were becoming more concerned about artificial colors – especially those that looked like they can glow in the dark – and these products proved to be a disaster.

Turkey Hill, in my opinion one of the best ice creams on the market, has decided to follow the Heinz debacle – or maybe they just hired that same brand manager? (Only kidding!) Starting in January their limited-edition Mystery Flavor is hitting supermarket shelves. They are also running a contest for what they call ‘flavor detectives’, who may win free ice cream for life. The contest launches tomorrow on December 31 and runs through March 14, 2022. Hold on a minute – if I can go to my supermarket and buy the Mystery Flavor starting in a couple of days from now – how much of a flavor detective do I need to be? I don’t get it. It the flavor is that obscure, that after trying it I can’t figure out what the flavor is what does that say about my taste buds (or the ice cream recipe itself)?

The real question in today’s world of scores of ice cream flavors from the likes of Ben Jerry’s and Hagen Dazs with consumers being more particular about their foods than ever, and more kids these days with food allergies, why would someone buy a mystery flavor? The package image that Turkey Hill’s PR folks sent me does not include any statements on the package for no artificial colors or ingredients – and their information did not include ingredient statement or nutritional facts label. The most shocking revelation is that the package states that it is a “frozen dairy desert” so it isn’t even ice cream.

Ice cream is one of America’s favorite foods and has been for generations, a marketing scheme like this is doomed for failure.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll stick to a flavor that I enjoy and know for 2022; and one that I know what’s inside the package. What about you? Would you buy it? Are you willing to take the chance on a ‘mystery flavor’ when it comes to your ice cream?


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