Why should ice cream only come in sweet flavors?
That’s not a question anyone should ask but it’s clearly one that someone has asked because all sorts of companies have tried a variety of savory flavors. It’s a big leap, however, from using bacon as an ice cream accent to offering spaghetti and meatball as an ice cream cone.
One company, however, has made creating odd ice cream flavors a core part of its business. It might be weirder than McDonald’s cilantro ice cream or the taco-flavored jelly beans sold by one pharmacy chain because now Walmart (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report has pizza and mac-and-cheese ice cream.
While such incompatible food pairings were once the domain of out-there food bloggers and niche restaurants, the trend is now being picked up by most fast-food chains and big-box retailers.
Pizza And Mac And Cheese? On Ice Cream?
A few weeks after competitor Walgreens (WBA) – Get Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc Report started selling jelly beans in flavors such as beef taco and guacamole, Walmart has begun selling its own strange-flavor product: the big-box retailer is partnering with Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to launch ice cream in flavors like Kraft Macaroni And Cheese and Pizza (two separate flavors).
The ice cream company that started as New York City food truck had, last summer, inadvertently created a hit when the mac-and-cheese ice cream it released as a limited-edition product sold out within days.
Walmart clearly latched on to its success and moved quickly to bring it over to its shelves. The other new flavors, which will also be available exclusively at Walmart, include Pizza, Hot Honey, Bourbon Cherries Jubilee, Wild Blueberry Shortcake, and Royal Wedding Cake.
“We have created a collection of classic flavors using thoughtfully sourced ingredients, from local jam makers to wild blueberries from Maine, to cookie bakers with a social mission,” chief executive Ben Van Leeuwen said in a statement. “There are also unique and surprisingly delicious flavors that you would never expect to love as an ice cream (mac and cheese, and pizza!).”
The flavors will be available at all U.S. Walmart locations and online (flavor availability will rotate) from March 14.
Why Are Drugstores Doing This?
As they offer a very similar core base of goods, drugstores and big-box chains like Walmart have long been trying to outdo each other by bringing in unique products. Both Walmart and Walgreens have recently been struggling to keep up the momentum that arose as people stocked up during the pandemic. Walmart shares are down 1.4% since the start of the year while Walgreens is down 9.40%.
Given the recent craze for these types of “you paired what?!” flavors, big-box retailers seem to be jumping over themselves to get them on their shelves. For the smaller brands, meanwhile, a partnership with Walmart is particularly lucrative for the exposure and wider customer base it can offer.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have Van Leeuwen available at Walmart locations nationwide, especially with Walmart’s proven track record of providing reputable brands a national platform for its consumers to fall in love with its products,” Van Leeuwen said.