Chocolate, right? Yeah, me too.
When it comes to ice cream, there’s a good chance you’re choosing chocolate over vanilla. Okay, maybe not with a slice of apple pie, but when it comes to a cone, two scoops of chocolate rules.
Turns out, statistically speaking, more people prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla. What’s more? This flavour preference may be entirely beyond our control. That’s right: chocolate lovers, you were born this way.
The DNA testing company, 23andMe, did some field work on the crucially important subject of which flavour dominates in the ice cream cone line-up. They analyzed the responses of almost a million people – really! – on the question of which flavour they preferred, chocolate or vanilla. Turns out, there are 739 genetic markers that are associated with your flavour preference. Age, sex and ancestry also play a role, but it’s your nose that will cast the deciding vote. A batch of the genetic markers that dictate ice cream flavour preference are located close to the olfactory receptor genes which contain instruction for proteins that help detect odours. The appreciation of flavours is a combination of what your nose smells and what your taste buds taste. The findings suggest that genetic variations in olfactory receptor genes may affect the perception of these flavours.
The research participants in a 980,000 person study contributed their genetic data and survey responses on the subject of ice cream flavours. The study yadders on about statistical models, neural mechanisms of gustation, and factoring in and out various data, but the findings indicate that 47 percent of 23andMe research participants have an innate preference for chocolate over vanilla.
Be that as it may.
According to Baskin-Robbins, the world’s biggest – and oldest – ice cream chain, we Canadians are just as likely to choose mint chocolate chip as our cone of choice; it’s Baskin-Robbins’ biggest seller in Canada. I’d have thought something maple would have shown its sticky face, but second and third place go to vanilla then pralines and cream.
And pity the poor ice cream scooper. Ice cream season lays bare personality types: those who know, unwaveringly, what flavour they’re going to order when they go out for a cone, and those who are thrown into wrenching self-examination by the many options available. Growing up, we had a family ritual of going for ice cream on the last day of school. My dad, an accountant, would select vanilla from the flavour ledger. My mom, a woman who at any moment might run away with the circus, could be counted on to order rum raisin. My older brother chose strawberry, a choice that confounded me. My younger brother would go for something different each time. My little sister would wait to see what I was ordering. And I was ordering chocolate – no two ways about it. Life may be uncertain but chocolate ice cream has never failed me.
Given that many of us console ourselves with a pint of ice cream, it’s surprising you don’t see vague flavours like, You Deserve Better, or Brighter Days Ahead. It’s chocolate or a chocolate variation, however, that takes first place in the ice cream sweepstakes. Vanilla, however, is never the bride and always the bridesmaid. Third place? Third place is a toss up. The science on all this is about as perishable as an ice cream cone on a July day. Some stats declare that strawberry ice cream takes third place. Nevertheless, the top five always seem to include chocolate mint, butter pecan, and strawberry. Who really cares? It’s ice cream!! Any summer day is immeasurably improved by an ice cream cone. In a pinch, I’ll take whatever is in fifth place. And make it three scoops, will ya?
Would you like to take the family out for ice cream cones courtesy of The Bookless Club? I’ll send a $20 Baskin-Robbins gift certificate to the first 15 people to sign up at janemacdougall.com.