A New Flavor to the Mix

Third-year UCI student Kelsey Lien was recently named the winner of Baskin-Robbins’ Second Annual Online Flavor Creation contest for her original concoction called “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie.”


After beating a reported 40,000 applicants across the United States, Lien was awarded with a cash prize of $1,000, a year’s supply of ice cream, an all-expense paid trip to Massachusetts to visit the Baskin-Robbins corporate headquarters and a debut of her creation in all Baskin-Robbins stores as the November 2012 “Flavor of the Month.”


When Lien received an email from the Baskin-Robbins mailing list in October 2011 announcing the contest, she thought that it was “just a fun idea” and didn’t expect anything to happen. Regardless, she entered the online contest since cooking and baking are two of her favorite hobbies.


The flavor contest asked participants to choose from 31 base flavors and a variety of mix-ins such as cookie or candy pieces. Creators could also add in components like fudge or peanut butter ribbons.


Lien selected her ingredients and ice cream flavor name in about five minutes while sitting in the Francisco J. Ayala Science Library at UCI one day last October.


A month later, she was notified that she had placed as a contest finalist, and she was later named as the grand prize winner on Dec. 13, 2011.


“On behalf of everyone at Baskin-Robbins, we are happy to congratulate Kelsey Lien on creating such a fun and delicious new ice cream flavor,” said Dan Wheeler, Baskin-Robbins U.S. Vice President of Brand and Field Marketing in a recent press release.


Upon hearing this news, Lien was completely surprised.


“I didn’t expect this at all,” said Lien. “Everything just happened in my favor … it was so cool.”


Ice cream specialists from Baskin-Robbins judged all of the applications and presented a list of  ten finalists online. Judges based their selection off criteria such as how marketable the ice cream could be and how well the ingredients went together.


Once the finalists were chosen, people voted online for their favorite flavors. After meeting all of the judges’ criteria and accumulating the largest number of votes, Lien was crowned the overall winner.


Lien was competing against flavors such as “Lemon Icebox Pie” or “Snap, Crackle, and Caramel,” but in the end, “Nutty Cream Cheese Brownie” came out on top.


This past January, Lien traveled to Canton, Mass. with her mother in order to visit the Baskin-Robbins corporate headquarters.


While there, she worked alongside the Baskin-Robbins culinary team to create the first batch of her innovative flavor, which comprises of chocolate fudge ice cream, a cream cheese ribbon, walnuts and fudge brownie pieces. This experience gave her the opportunity to step inside the test kitchen, an area that is normally top-secret and off-limits to the majority of people.


“Just learning about the company and everything they do was so interesting, and everyone was so nice and friendly too,” said Lien.


This experience made Lien even more interested in pursuing a career in the business side of the food industry.


Lien is currently an economics and public health double-major, so she hopes to apply these skills to her future endeavors.


Since winning the contest, Lien has been working with public relations representatives from Baskin-Robbins to help spread the word about her achievements.


“It all just spread really fast,” said Lien when speaking of her new-found recognition and accomplishment.


“So many people ended up asking if I won, and I’d never even met them before.”


When Lien is not winning national contests or creating brand new ice cream flavors, she can be found pursuing her dreams at UCI or in her hometown of Santa Clarita, Calif.