Used to be just chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.   Now,  you might do a double take after you see the newest flavors of  ice cream this summer.

ice cream

There's  french toast ice cream, buttered popcorn,  strawberry basil. And a sundae with bacon bits.

Summer is when ice cream eateries notch up to 70% of their sales. Even with the economy on the rebound, the $25 billion domestic ice cream market is locked in an ultra-competitive tussle.

The purpose of all the offbeat flavors at Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone, MaggieMoo's and Ben & Jerry's: to lure folks into the store, even though most will sample the new but buy the old.

Seven in 10 consumers buy vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, says Howard Waxman, editor of Ice Cream Reporter, but the remaining three in 10 are "where the real battle for profitability is fought."

Some summer ice cream odd balls:

French Toast:  later this summer, Baskin-Robbins will roll out the ice cream with bits of French toast and maple. "Customers love knowing they can get a sample, then get their favorites," executive chef Stan Frankenthaler says.

Buttered Popcorn:  In August, MaggieMoo's debuts a flavor with butter pecan and caramel popcorn. "This gets people in the door," says Hilliard Creath, R&D manager.

Srawberry Basil:  It's the first time Cold Stone has put an herb into an ice cream, taste master Ray Karam says.

Late Night Snack:  The Late Night With Jimmy Fallon host helped develop Ben & Jerry's flavor made with chocolate-covered potato chips and caramel. "He suggested pizza, but we thought that sounded gross," says Alison Gilbert, brand manager.

Mojito Sorbet: There's no rum in it, but the new Cold Stone flavor, due in August, is made with mint and lime.

Firehouse 31: anyone who has felt the heat of an Atomic Fireball will appreciate this Baskin-Robbins flavor that crushes a fiery candy into its ice cream.

Creole Cream Cheese: Made with a cream-cheese-like base and a spicy kick, it hits Baskin-Robbins this summer.

Maple Bacon Sundae:  Denny's is selling the sundae made with vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and bacon bits. Alas, a side of pancakes doesn't come with it.

More From 1130 The Tiger