A Scoop on the State of Flavor

Paying attention in history class paid off last week for one Southern California fourth-grader. Elysa Hill, 10, of Woodland Hills, was one of two winners selected out of 10 semifinalists in Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream's Flavor of California contest.

"We panned for gold as part of a lesson on the Gold Rush," Elysa said of how she got the idea for her award-winning ice cream flavor, Gold Miner's Dream. "Then I just combined my favorite flavors [chocolate and vanilla] with bits of toffee, Ghirardelli chocolate and caramel swirl."

Twelve-year-old Jessica Lack of Pleasant Hill came up with the second winning flavor--Hooray for Hollywood! (made from vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel, nuts and star-shaped chocolate bits).

Both flavors will compete to become an official flavor of Dreyer's in 2000.

Although nearly half of the semifinalists were under age 12, creating ice cream flavors is hardly child's play, said John Harrison, official taster for Dreyer's. The contest, which was being held in honor of California's 150th birthday, drew 8,000 submissions from ice cream enthusiasts all over the Golden State.

Last Thursday, semifinalists were flown to the company's manufacturing facility in Union City, Calif. There, they waited anxiously as their inventions were developed by a team of Dreyer's researchers and taste-tested by a panel of judges.

Entries were rated on name, ingredients and taste, said Harrison, who might have the most valuable taste buds around: They're insured for $1 million, said Dreyer's spokesperson, Jenifer Howard.

Flavors ran the gamut from fresh spins on old favorites, like Mother Lode a la Mode (chocolate ice cream with brownies and caramel) and California Poppy (a vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet combo, sprinkled with chocolate shavings). Other icy creations that got scooped: I Wish They All Could Be California Swirls, Shakey Quakey, Diggin' for Gold, California CheeseQuake and Eureka.

If you're one of the many who scream at the thought of ice cream, it's not too late to join the fun. Californians can cast a ballot for either Gold Miner's Dream or Hooray for Hollywood! by purchasing either flavor (both will be available in grocery stores statewide from August to November) and then voting on Dreyer's Web site (http://www.dreyers.com) or by calling (877) 358-7225. The prevailing flavor will be marketed next year as the official flavor of California's Sesquicentennial.

A portion of the proceeds from these new flavors will be donated to support education and literacy programs in California schools. And, while it may not be a star on Hollywood Boulevard, the winners will have their names printed on each of the California-themed ice cream cartons.

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