A deep aroma of rich espresso notes, the fruity zing of mango paired with the delightful crunch of pistachios, or a chewy chunk of spiced brownie. What makes your mouth water? Flavor innovation is tasty business, and concocting delectable ice cream inclusions concepts to make taste buds sing is what we do best.
Exploring unique and enticing combinations to inspire our customers each year is a highly collaborative process at Rhino. We call it Rhinovation. We bring together team members across departments, and loop in partners and outside experts. This year, we’re doubling down on creativity with bold colors and enticing textures to tap into flavor experiences you’ll be craving.
Thinking Outside of the Box
One of our new flavors for 2020, Mango Lassi, re-imagines the bright fruity puree sweetness and yogurty tang of the popular Indian restaurant beverage. Sweet Potato Pie is a nostalgic nod to the buttery brown sugar and marshmallow-infused dish. Espresso dough packs everything you love about a milky, sweet, strong cup of coffee into an elevated experience.
“We really tried to push the envelope with this year’s concepts, expanding our capabilities and introducing some interesting, innovative flavors,” says Martin Cauchon, R&D Food Technologist at Rhino.
Transforming iconic flavors into something fresh and exciting is always a priority, but this year we also experimented with texture and color with a bright, sparkle-hued Mermaid dough, an earthy-spiced Baked Mole Brownie, and our Baked Mango Turmeric Cheesecake.
A Flavored Collaboration
Our initial brainstorming session for 2020 flavor concepts generated over 150 ideas, and left nothing off the table. We were guided by hot market trends and inspired by inventive ingredient combinations.
How do we go about narrowing down the massive pool of ideas? It involves a lot of open conversations, post-it notes (good ol’ reliable paper and pencil), rounds of voting, in-depth research, and developing a keen eye for predicting what’s going to resonate in the coming year.
For Rhino R&D Manager and Research Chef Dale Conoscenti, keeping a finger on the pulse of the food world is vital for making key decisions throughout this process. “I’m driven by new products, by development,” he says. “I’m looking through a microscope at what’s happening in the aisle of a grocery store and a macro look at what’s behind those trends.” From there, it’s a blend of art and science to bring each concept from the page, to the palate and then the production floor.
Developing a top-notch inclusion takes months—sourcing ingredients, finding the right combination to achieve the desired flavor, and iterating on numerous test batches to deliver the magic.
“You have to get to the bench and really start whittling away at each concept,” says Dale. “It’s one thing to have an exciting idea, but the ultimate challenge is to get the best flavor, the right texture, and a product that you can repeat in production.”
After polished flavor concepts have been thoroughly vetted internally, it’s time for the most important step in the feedback process—presenting to our customers. This opens up creative conversations on how these flavors could be adapted or incorporated into existing and new products, and an opportunity to test the technical side of production.
This engagement is the essential ingredient to finding the next best flavor combination to captivate your taste buds. Our partnerships make the ice cream world go round. They also make life a little tastier for everyone. Keep an eye out for that sparkly mermaid cookie dough, or spiced mole brownie in your grocery aisle.