CHICAGO — Pints are a powerful package size in the world of ice cream. By definition a pint is 16 fluid ozs of product, but some “pint” packs contain a little less.

Regardless of how much is inside, pints cost more – often a lot more – on a per-oz-base than larger-size ice cream containers. In fact, numerous artisan, hand-crafted brands command as much as $10 per pint at retail. Such smaller-size containers, though more expensive, invite consumers to try something new. There is less product, and thus less risk of waste in case you don’t like it.

Pints help ice cream manufacturers overcome formulation challenges associated with adding inclusions, especially variegates and fruit sauces that impact freezing temperature and product integrity over shelf life. This is something Ben & Jerry’s taught the ice cream industry when the brand started packing in chunks, chips, swirls and all types of flavorful ingredients that could cause the aerated ice cream mixture to collapse in a larger-size container that would go in and out of the home freezer for multiple eating occasions. 


Pints also allow for unique formulations, such as layers. For example, Häagen-Dazs Trio is a line of ice cream pints that contain multiple layers of ice cream and crispy Belgian chocolate. To get a taste of all the layers, you have to dig in. Such layering is challenging to achieve, as well as maintain over a product’s shelf-life, in a half-gallon package.

Ben & Jerry’s “Core” product line also requires a pint-size container. The concept includes a core center down the middle. The flavor of the core complements the super-premium ice cream flavors on either side of the core. For example, Hazed & Confused is chocolate and hazelnut ice creams with fudge chips and a hazelnut fudge core.

Pints also make sense for limited-edition, special-batch and seasonal concepts. Short-time offerings create an urgency to purchase. When they come in a smaller-size package, the consumer is often more willing to buy and bring home. There is less of a commitment. In the consumer’s mind, it’s a tasting, a sampling event.

Ben & Jerry's One Love ice cream
Ben & Jerry’s One Love features banana ice cream, caramel and cookie swirls, and chocolatey peace signs.

A forerunner in the limited-edition segment is Ben & Jerry’s, a brand that has partnered with musicians and philanthropies to raise awareness and create excitement. Most recently, the brand has teamed up with Jamaica’s One Love Youth Camp, a program run by The Bob Marley Foundation and Partners for Youth Empowerment, to roll out its latest limited-batch flavor: One Love.

One Love features banana ice cream, caramel and cookie swirls, and chocolatey peace signs. Bob Marley’s memorable one love, one heart refrain is a call for global compassion, with the new flavor concoction paying homage to the legendary performer and his vision for a better world. A portion of the proceeds from each One Love pint sold will benefit Jamaica’s One Love Youth Camp.

The latest rage in pints, however, is protein-enriched ice cream innovations, some going by the descriptor frozen dairy dessert because of standards of identity. Most of the products are low in calories, fat and sugar. They promise shoppers the indulgence of ice cream without the guilt or empty calories. And consumers are eating it up, one pint at a time.