Las Vegas, known for its dazzling lights and vibrant entertainment, played host to a unique and delicious event recently – NICA's ConeCon. This convention, organized by the National Ice Cream Association (NICA), brought together ice cream enthusiasts from around the world for a delightful celebration of frozen treats. NICA, a prominent organization dedicated to the ice cream industry, aimed to create a space where professionals, ice crdam lovers, and those curious about the craft could come together to share their passion and knowledge. And what better place to do it than in the heart of Las Vegas? The event spanned several days and featured a range of exciting activities, discussions, and, of course, plenty of ice cream! Here's a glimpse of what ConeCon attendees experienced:
Scooping Showdown: One of the highlights of ConeCon was the Golden Scoop contest, a friendly competition where ice cream scoopers competed to scoop the most 4 oz scoops in 1 minute. That sounds easy until you find out the scoop cannot vary more than .2 of an ounce.
Conversations with Industry Insiders: Over 100 vendors were on hand to share their expertise and products. Everything from cups to toppings was represented. Whether you were in the market for a new batch freezer, delicious new flavors, or custom cups, there were experts to assist.
Ice Cream Tastings: ConeCon wouldn't be complete without a wide array of ice cream tastings. Attendees sampled unique, mouthwatering flavors and discovered the secrets behind perfect ice cream texture and taste. The Ice Cream Clinic allows member shops to submit their chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams for testing. Each ice cream is scored for flavor, texture, appearance, and other categories and awarded blue, red, or white ribbons. Each ice cream also undergoes microbial testing. There was also a Non-Dairy contest for Flavor of the Year. Some favorites were the Bomb Pop Sorbet and Cucumber Sorbet. Chocolate Shoppe took home the honors for their delicious Strawberry-Hibiscus Sorbet. Ice Cream Flavor of the year saw more entries than ever before. Interesting flavors like World's Hottest Chocolate and Fluffernutter filled four freezers in the tasting area. Clementine's Creamery took home the honors for their Smokey Italian Fig. Other regional winners, Grand Masters, and Triple Scoop of Excellence awards were also earned by several ice cream shops.
Business Insights: For those looking to break into the ice cream industry or improve their existing ice cream business, ConeCon offered valuable business insights and networking opportunities. If there's something a shop owner wants to know about, there's certainly another shop owner who is willing to share their knowledge.
The Science of Ice Cream: Ice cream-making is a science, and at ConeCon, experts dived into the chemistry behind creating that perfect scoop, sharing secrets for achieving that creamy, dreamy consistency. Food safety was also discussed in depth, ensuring that ice cream producers deliver delicious results with safety in mind.
Sweet Socials: Attendees had the chance to network and socialize with like-minded individuals, all brought together by their shared love for ice cream. Since 2023 is the 90th Anniversary of NICA, the Great Gatsby theme provided an elegant theme for the Supplier party.
Scholarship Auction: Each year, NICA awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to employees of member stores. This year, NICA awarded $40,000 in scholarships, funded by the live and silent auctions.
NICA's ConeCon successfully combined education, entertainment, and indulgence, creating an unforgettable experience for all who attended. It's an event where you can learn about the art of making ice cream, stay updated on industry trends, and savor delicious frozen treats.
As the sun set over the Las Vegas Strip, attendees left ConeCon with their hearts (and bellies) full, inspired to continue their ice cream adventures and bring the joy of frozen treats to the world. Whether you're an ice cream professional or simply someone with a dream of opening a shop, NICA's ConeCon in Vegas is an event that should not be missed. So, mark your calendars and prepare your taste buds for next year's ConeCon in Savannah– it's bound to be a sweet experience!