Spoilt for choice

  • Lifestyle
  • Sunday, 27 Jun 2010

The ambiance at this new Baskin Robbins outlet just screams 'fun!'

At this ice-cream chain, you will never run out of flavours to savour.

ABOUT three-quarters of a century ago, two brothers-in-law shared a dream to create an innovative ice cream store that would be a gathering place for families in the neighbourhood.

Both Burton “Burt” Baskin and Irvine “Irv” Robbins shared a mutual love of old-fashioned ice cream and the desire to give customers a variety of flavours made with ingredients of the highest quality, in an inviting atmosphere.

On the advice of Irv’s father, they started separate ventures. In 1945, Irv opened Snowbird Ice Cream in Glendale, California.

His store featured 21 flavours and emphasised high-quality ice cream sold in a fun, personalised atmosphere.

A year later, Burt opened Burton’s Ice Cream Shop in Pasadena, California. By 1948, the in-laws had six stores between them.

In 1953, they decided to drop the separate identities of Snowbird and Burton’s and became Baskin-Robbins. A local advertising agency, Carson/Roberts, advised a uniform identity and image under the name Baskin-Robbins 31 Ice Cream. Its recommendations was included adopting the “31®” logo to represent a flavour for every day of the month; having cherry (pink) and chocolate (brown) polka dots that are reminiscent of clowns, carnivals and fun, and using cartoons to bring their flavours “alive”, and highlight the name and delicious ingredients used.

With this over-arching branding, Baskin-Robbins’ iconic pink spoons were then created on the belief that people should be able to try any of its many flavours, free of charge.

The company expanded swiftly and by the mid-1960s, it had become an ice cream empire with more than 400 stores throughout the United States. In the 1970s the chain went international, opening outlets in Japan, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Australia.

The franchise model created by Burt and Irv decades ago is still in use today. Stores are 100% franchised, with each owner having a stake in the business, while product development and merchandising are handled at Baskin-Robbins’ headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts.

Using this franchise model, the company has become the world’s largest chain of ice cream speciality stores, with more than 2,800 outlets located throughout the United States and 5,800 around the globe.

In Malaysia, the first Baskin-Robbins store was opened in Subang Parade, Selangor, on Dec 24, 1988. Since then, the business has expanded significantly; there are now 54 stores (in West Malaysia only). The latest is in Bandar Puteri Puchong, Selangor.

Another outlet and is scheduled to open at Taylor’s University College’s Lakeside Campus in Subang Jaya in two months.

There are also four café concept stores located in The Gardens, Kuala Lumpur; Pavilion KL; Sunway Pyramid, Selangor, and City Square in Johor Baru.

The café’s were introduced as a revolutionary ice cream dessert destination, and they serve creations like “Ice Cream Fondue” & “Affogato” (a scoop of ice cream with a steaming shot of freshly brewed espresso).

With its catchy tagline – “What’s your flavour?” – there is never a boring day at Baskin-Robbins, which has 31 enticing options all laid out. Since 1945, the companyhas introduced more than 1,000 unique ice cream flavours. Its original, top-selling Mint Chocolate Chip and Pralines ‘n Cream still delights millions worldwide.

Total Eclipse, a bright and colourful trio of passion fruit, apricot and a blend of black-currant-raspberry sherbets, is the flavour of the month.

But Baskin-Robbins continues to be creative and has come up with exciting flavour combinations, mousse-textured ice creams, as well as innovations such as hand-packed ice cream quarts, and a unique flavour ribbon technique.

There are also the signature Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes, sundaes and ice cream milk shake, and a growing line of beverages, including the signature Cappuccino Blast.

To liven things up, the chain offers a flavour of the month; for June, it’s Total Eclipse, a bright and colourful trio of passion fruit, apricot and a blend of black-currant-raspberry sherbets.

What’s the flavour that is most popular with Malaysians?

The Jamoca Almond Fudge, which is the classic Jamoca (coffee) flavour blended with a chocolate fudge ribbon and roasted almonds for a combination that’s been a hit since 1959.

Other interesting flavours include the Very Berry Strawberry–a strawberry puree with chunks of strawberry in strawberry ice cream, and Mango Tango – which uses King Alfonso mangoes from India.

And as everyone who loves ice cream knows, Baskin-Robbins in Malaysia offers a 31% discount on its handpacked ice creams on every 31st day of the month.

Recently, it launched a fun Pink Day promotion, which requires the customer to just show its staff anything pink (be it socks, camera, lipstick, shirt, pen) to enjoy two junior scoops at RM7.50.

There’s also a tie-in with Maybank: The first offer entitles Maybank cardholders to a 50% discount on the second ice cream sundae purchased. (Fun Sundae is not included in this promotion, which ends on Aug 31.)

The second offer, till the end of July, gives cardholders a two-scoop junior ice cream free with every purchase of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake worth RM80 and above.

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