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Ice Cream Comp
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The National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) holds several ice cream competitions at its annual convention and trade show each November.

This event is a great opportunity to prepare and enter your ice cream products to be judged by a national collegiate accredited facility (University of Minnesota) and also have your products sampled by the national ice cream retailer community as a whole.

Each year, we receive hundreds of ice cream samples and flavors from across the country. Many of our award winners use these accolades to promote their business locally, regionally and nationally.

We invite you to consider entering your ice cream and frozen desserts into the NICRA ice cream competitions.


The purpose of the Ice Cream Clinic conducted at NICRA’s Annual Meeting is to assure a reliable, consistent and credible process of evaluation for its entries. NICRA’s Clinics are based on an understanding that the members who attend the tasting sessions will participate in a safe and healthful atmosphere.

NICRA is further mindful that the judging of the entries has to meet specific stringent quality standards and encourages its members to accept good manufacturing procedures and act on the information provided by the clinic.

In summary, the NICRA Ice Cream Clinic will provide a credible evaluation in a safe environment and disseminate information that can be used for member education, self-improvement and business promotion.


The NICRA competition has two main elements, The Ice Cream Clinic and the Best New Flavor Awards. Please find the following information of these two events:

The Ice Cream Clinic

This year NICRA will analyze, and rank vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream flavors submitted by our contestants. Standard Plate Count and Coliform tests will be conducted by University of Minnesota personnel. Your product must meet microbiology standards. Sensory tests will also be conducted and scored to determine your final score.

The fee is $79 for each ice cream clinic sample submitted, which covers the cost of laboratory analysis and sensory testing.

Awards will be presented for the following categories:

Blue Ribbon;  40.5 - 43

Red Ribbon;   38 - 40

White Ribbon;  35.5 - 37.5

An example of the Score Card is available at this link so that you will know how your ice cream is scored.


The Perfect Score Award will be given to those that receive a perfect judging score as determined by the University performing the evaluations. A pin stating, “My Ice Cream is Perfect” with the NICRA logo will be presented to the winning companies.

Currently a perfect score would mean receiving 43 out of 43 possible points for vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.

The Grand Master Ice Cream Maker Award started at the 2012 convention. In order to qualify for this prestigious award, a company must win blue ribbons at three different conventions within a five-year period, starting in 2012. A plaque commemorating this award, with the company name, will be presented at the appropriate convention.

Your Best New Flavor Contests

NICRA provides members two opportunities to win additional awards at the annual convention. 

“Your Best New Flavor” and “Your Best New Non-Dairy Flavor” provide members a chance to showcase new, innovative flavor concepts.  Winning flavors are selected by secret ballot by the membership during the Annual Meeting.  Flavors are judged for originality, quality, flavor and marketability.

In order to qualify for tasting at the Annual Meeting, entries are submitted for Standard Plate Count and Coliform tests to be conducted by the University of Minnesota personnel.  Entries must meet microbiology standards.

The fee is $39 for each entry to cover the cost of laboratory analysis. Awards will be presented for first, second and third place flavors, along with honorable mention certificates.


The 2019 sensory judging for the vanilla, chocolate and strawberry samples will be conducted under the direction of Dr. Tonya Schoenfuss, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, a trained and experienced dairy scientist. 

You may submit ice cream, frozen custard, gelato, soft serve, or frozen yogurt, however, the sensory testing and scoring for all samples will be judged using the standards for hard ice cream, since there are no standards for judging these other products.



Before you select the “entry form” links, you will need to have some information at your fingertips:

·         A credit/debit card to pay for the entries

·         Contact details for three of your local media contacts

·         A short description of your Best New Flavor entries


1. Complete the general application form at the bottom of the page including your business name and contacts, who made the sample and from where the sample will be shipping from.

2. Click on the link to input your Ice Cream Clinic Flavors (Vanilla, Chocolate and/or Strawberry)

3. Clink on the link in input your Best New Flavor & Best New Non-Dairy Flavors

4. You will be directed to pay your entry fee upon submitting the form.

5. Your competition fees do not include shipping supplies and shipping.

6. On the week of the 9th of September, NICRA will send you 2 cartons for each flavor, the Federal Express Airbill and dry ice stickers for you to ship your entries.

7. The cartons will have a label on them to identify your sample. Do not use any other cartons. Your ice cream will be disqualified if you ship in cartons other than those provided.

8. All entrants agree to the terms and conditions of the competition by virtue of their completing the entry forms. FOR FULL TERMS, CONDITIONS AND COMPETITION RULES, CLICK HERE


All samples MUST be shipped on Monday the 30th of September 2019 to arrive at the University of Minnesota by October 1 2019.

For those who received their boxes late, a second ship date of 8th of October 2019 to arrive at the University of Minnesota by October 9 2019 has also been granted.


All samples will be shipped to Dr. Tonya Schoenfuss at the University of Minnesota, Dept. of Food Science & Nutrition.


Please complete the general entry from below and then select either or both of the category link to submit your flavor entry's

Fedex Dry Ice Shipping Job Aid below - Click on the FEDEX Logo