Some people say ranch goes with everything: carrots, fries, pizza. But Van Leeuwen just proved those people wrong (with the help of Hidden Valley Ranch).
However, the latest Ranch ice cream has the internet stirring. (If you haven’t tried it, it’s essentially the sticky, savory-sweet consequence of a childhood “ice cream for dinner” dream run amok.)
And it’s testing even the most devout foodies and ice cream enthusiasts alike. Some folks noted that the flavor is “very garlic powder forward;” others simply said “no” to trying it.
But did a fast-growing ice cream brand really think Ranch would be the next Rocky Road? Of course not!
“When I first heard about Hidden Valley, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s crazy. We’re not doing that,'” Ben Van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, told Marketing Brew.
“Then 2 minutes later, I was like, ‘Wait, my reaction is exactly why we should do this.'”
Thanks to today’s meme culture, these off-the-wall collaborations generate buzz for the brand “which doesn’t have a budget for paid advertising.” Meaning, these ‘weird flavors’ pay for themselves and then some.
Van Leeuwen then reinvests the newfound capital into its product (specifically, sourcing ingredients from small, typically more expensive producers), launching new products (yep, like Ranch) and expansion (via wholesale deals and new locations).
But the brand doesn’t bank on shock-factor alone.
Van Leeuwen’s rotating seasonal roster ensures loyal customers return to see what they can try next. For instance, the spring line-up features 6 more traditional seasonals like Honey Graham Cracker and Blood Orange Chocolate Chip alongside Ranch.
The creamery, of course, also offers freezer aisle staples like Chocolate and Vanilla for the less adventurous.
Ben explains: “Our hope is that people try the Hidden Valley Ranch [flavor], but when they’re picking it up, they see Honeycomb next to that, and they say, ‘Hmm, I want to try the Honeycomb, too.'”