IFF Takes You Inside the Museum of Ice Cream – A Q&A with the Cofounders

6:00 AM

What if you could swan dive into a pool filled to the brim with ice cream sprinkles? What if you could meet and greet life-sized gummy bears? Or swing inside and sniff an entire room literally filled with banana split? Or get away from it all at a melted Popsicle jungle?

When Maryellis Bunn was a little girl, these are the sort of things she dreamed about. Today, those dreams have become reality.

The Partnership between IFF and the Museum of Ice Cream

Courtesy of MOIC by Katie Gibbs
We are excited to share details from our one of a kind partnership between IFF and the Museum of Ice Cream, a pop-up sensorial experience designed to bring people together and inspire imaginative fun.

The sold-out experience, launched in April in LA’s DTLA Arts District, runs through October 16, 2017. It features 10 ice-cream-centered installations with some incredible photo-ops and of course, plenty of curated ice cream tastings and complimentary ice cream to go. These installations include an interactive sprinkle swimming pool — filled with 100 million custom-designed sprinkles — a melted popsicle jungle and a fragrance room, which we created in collaboration with the Museum team.

The pop-up had its first run in New York City last year and sold out 30,000 tickets in a matter of days amassing a waiting list of over 200,000 people. At the intersection of art, science and ephemeral play, it’s the perfect fodder for buzzworthy social media, quickly becoming an instant phenomenon online; the #1 trending story on SnapChat, Facebook, through over 100,000 posts with a billion-plus social reach.  

Meet the Museum’s co-founders Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora

Museum of Ice Cream’s co-founders Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora. Photo courtesy of MOIC by Katie Gibbs
We had a chance to ask the Museum’s co-founders Maryellis Bunn and Manish Vora a few questions and take you inside the immersive and dream-like experience. Here’s what they shared:  

IFF: Maryellis, you were a creative strategist at Time, Inc. What made you and Manish, a former investment manager and CEO of Lightbox, leave that world behind? How did you end up creating the Museum of Ice Cream? Any notable visitors?  

MOIC Co-founders: We wanted to create a cultural experience that hasn't been done yet. We love ice cream. We love that ice cream is democratic, universal and delicious…there are no politics and no age restrictions, no limit to the imagination. The Kardashians, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Katy Perry, Nicole Richie and more have all visited the museum.  

IFF: In our space, partnerships and innovative collaborations are key to shared success for those involved. What has been your approach to working at the crossroads of science and art, where the creative masters are explorers and dreamers like yourselves? Can you share some of your takeaways?  
MOIC Co-founders: There is a lot of innovation in ice cream making itself and we are exploring everything from AI to robotics in the Museum.  

IFF: You have mentioned elsewhere that the Museum was built with social first and meant to capture all senses. Can you describe what went into designing and executing an experience to be highly engaging and sharable online and sensorial?  

MOIC Co-founders: Social Media is bigger than media. It is the way we communicate, connect, consume….people love ice cream and are desperate for experiences. “Experience” is cliché but we certainly believe that our millennial culture is changing the demands for everything from your eating, entertainment, retail and cultural experiences. We ensured that all five senses are met when visiting the museum as well as a memorable experience with the people you came with.  

IFF: Do you have a favorite room in the MOIC?

MOIC Co-founders: The Black Cone Room is my favorite, it features a dripping cone installation by Peruvian artist Abel Bentin complimented by edible black cookie dough cones. However, my favorite part of this whole thing is watching people experience it for the first time. This is a museum that I build out of my own childhood dream, I love when I hear that some of those dreams are shared with our visitors.  

IFF: What are some examples of foods, ingredients, and cultural ideas that have stood out as you’ve started to research and develop your concept?  

MOIC Co-founders: Everyone has an ice cream story, the subject matter resonates as it is loved by all. The Museum of Ice Cream provides visitors with an opportunity to create new memories while exploring all five senses. We have created a new platform that our visitors have never been exposed to - which is refreshing. 

Inside International Flavors & Fragrances 

“In the frantic pace of our lives, today, more than ever, consumers are looking for multi sensorial experiences – an opportunity to escape the chaos of life and constant connectedness and to experience something that indulges the senses and creates a new sense of discovery. No matter whether it is a gooey soft serve or a deliciously rich dessert, perfected by a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream, new flavors and experimentation with toppings and inclusions are the new normal, recognized by the inflow of ice cream pop-up stores, artisanal and hand-crafted pops and unexpected flavors designed to delight and create the perfect #foodporn opportunity.

Museum of Ice Cream Popsicle Room. Photo courtesy of MOIC by Katie Gibbs
Over 30 people within IFF were involved in the creation of the MOIC Blueberry French Toast flavor – from the Marketing team who track the trends and influence creative direction, to the Flavorists who made the initial creations to the quality control team who checked the product before it was shipped to the MOIC, the process of Taste Design ™ involves a skillful team of artists and scientists,” says Karen Stanton, Global Marketing & Branding Director, Flavors at IFF.

The Making of a Museum of Ice Cream Flavor 

Blueberry French Toast was chosen as it represented a truly unique ice cream flavor position but composed of familiar flavors which would not alienate the mainstream consumer.

Several factors led to Blueberry French Toast becoming a designated MOIC flavors. Our proprietary research has found that consumers’ emotional state to have ice cream is driven by a desire to relax and indulge. This desire to indulge has led to consumer demand for elevated food experiences.

These experiences have to be inventive in nature, and as such we have seen a blurring of established lines of food and beverage flavors. Since the launch of the Cronut back in 2013, a whole new category of hybrid desserts has emerged. Beverages and milk shakes in particular, are a common medium for a range of dessert-inspired flavors. “Upmarket, premium positioned desserts benefit from a consumer interest in indulgent experiences combined with their demand for quality ingredients and sophisticated flavors.”

Despite the desire for novel experiences, flavors must have a touch of familiarity to resonate and be accepted by consumers, as such Blueberry French Toast was chosen as it represented a truly unique ice cream positioning that suited all of these variables but was composed of familiar flavors which would not alienate the mainstream consumer.

Principal Flavorist, John Yurecko, who designed the original IFF Blueberry French Toast flavor for the Museum of Ice Cream, applying flavor to scent strips. He was part of the IFF team who on the flavors for the museum collaboration.
Three extracts from IFF LMR Naturals were used in the creation of this new flavor. The IFF LMR catalog contains over 400 natural extracts from 120 families of botanicals. To formulate Blueberry French Toast, Black Currant LMR was used to impart a sweet jammy, profile with deep fruity tones, Osmanthus LMR for a very smooth fruity taste and Sage Clary LMR for a carmelic, fruity taste.

Smell at the Museum of Ice Cream

We didn’t just create the flavors; we collaborated on the olfactory experience of the museum. We partnered with trusted partner, Caroline Fabrigas of Scent Marketing to create and diffuse the olfactory experience.

Perfumer Gregoire Hausson, in our laboratory in the Netherlands, was part of the team who worked on the fragrances featured in the museum collaboration.
Wading over to the MOIC’s Sprinkle Pool, might affect your “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin as the scent of our Vanilla and Sugar fragrance envelopes you. It’s a faceted fragrance, which evokes all the colorful complexity of candy. The blooming fruit notes are designed to make you feel happy while the sweet cotton candy aspect, enhanced by the floral ones, is crafted to cause a surge of positive emotions.

Inside their Dripping Cone Room, there’s a hidden memory to unlock: Perfumer Gregoire Hausson used his favorite food memory from childhood winter holidays as inspiration to create the waffle cone scent wafting through the room. He loved eating waffles. A warm waffle topped with dark chocolate was his favorite on a chilly day.

At the heart of our company, we are fueled by a sense of discovery, constantly asking “what if?” That passion for exploration drives us to create groundbreaking sensorial experiences. We are proud to have worked on the Museum of Ice and hope you enjoy it.

What flavor or scent would you want to experience in an immersive experience like the MOIC?

Tell us #MOIC @IFF on Twitter or @IFFinc on Instagram

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