Gifford’s, L.L. Bean team up on ‘Muddy Bean Boots’ ice cream

Gifford’s Ice Cream offers Moose Tracks, Deer Tracks and Lobster Tracks. Now they also offer people tracks – after a fashion.

The Skowhegan-based company is teaming up with iconic Maine retailer L.L. Bean to offer a new flavor: “Muddy Bean Boots.” The partnership comes as Bean celebrates its 100th anniversary, and has been teaming up with other Maine companies to celebrate.

Muddy Bean Boots is made with Gifford’s “Old-Fashioned Vanilla” ice cream, criss-crossed with sweet caramel ripple and tossed with rich chocolate brownie bites. The caramel hearkens to the dark-brown leather Bean boots, said Lindsay Gifford-Skilling, Gifford’s vice president of sales.

And the brownie bits, of course, represent the mud.

“When L.L.Bean asked us to help them celebrate 100 years, we quickly realized that this flavor should pay tribute to the company’s iconic product — L.L.Bean boots,” said Gifford-Skilling. “My entire family has grown up wearing Bean boots; focusing on them was the only way to go.

“We’re very excited, and humbled that they thought to call us,” she said.

Gifford-Skilling said this was the first time the company has partnered with another company or brand to make a special-edition flavor, though it did work on a Girl Scout’s flavor years ago. It’s not unheard of in the industry – Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s has had a number of flavors touting a person or brand, from Cherry Garcia to Late Night Snack (honoring late-night host Jimmy Fallon).

Gifford-Skilling said Giffords created a half-dozen flavor concepts for Bean to consider, including such themes as “gone fishing” and “trail mix.” They narrowed it down to a few, with Bean executives trying the flavors, and bringing the top ones to the board for consideration.

“L.L.Bean and Gifford’s share many of the same qualities.  They are both family owned, Maine companies, that take pride in producing a quality product right here in Maine,” said Kelly Warsky, L.L.Bean’s partnership marketing manager.  “They both give back to their communities and are beloved by generations of fans across the country.”

Bean has partnered with other Maine companies this year, including Shaw & Tenney of Orono, which is making special canoe paddles; bamboo fly rods handcrafted by Steve Campbell of the Thomas Rod Company in Brewer; and a special-edition canoe made by Old Town Canoe.

Gifford-Skilling said the deal with Bean is a cross-marketing promotion; Bean didn’t pay for the flavor, nor is the ice cream company paying to use the Bean name.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for the state of Maine as a whole, to see two family businesses, Maine businesses, working together in an economy that’s trying to turn around,” she said.

Recommended serving size: 1 bootful?

Gifford’s employs 30 year-round, and about 100 during the warmer months, when it opens its ice cream stands.

L.L.Bean and Gifford’s will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Muddy Bean Boots ice cream to support Healthy Hometowns, a non-profit Maine based program that engages young people and their families in active, healthy, lifestyles through outdoor recreation.

Muddy Bean Boots will be available this Friday, when Gifford’s five family-owned ice cream stands open for the season at noon. Starting next week, the flavor will be available next week, starting March 19, at 1,500 independent stands, restaurants, colleges, universities, hospitals and hotels throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia.

L.L. Bean is giving away free samples to the public Saturday March 17, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the flagship store in Freeport. And  Bean employees are getting free samples at all its locations (even stores outside of Maine) all week.