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Tampa's Datz Dough has a doughnut ice cream cone that's big, messy and delicious

Tina Contes, general manager at Datz Dough in South Tampa, uses a cherry to top off doughnut ice cream cones that feature handmade ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, a chocolate-dipped potato chip and, of course, a doughnut.
Published Apr. 4, 2016

You've heard of the cronut.

What about the rainbow bagel? The waffle taco? Or the bacon sundae?

Some food trends go viral on the Internet in a matter of days. People waited in line to try the croissant-doughnut hybrid pastry in bakeries across the globe back in 2013. But can you find one now? I'm not so sure.

So when Datz Dough in South Tampa announced it was going to sell a doughnut ice cream cone dessert last month, the staff there wasn't sure it was going to take off. But it did.

I had to try it for myself.

A doughnut ice cream cone is exactly what it sounds like: a cone made of baked dough, flavored with cinnamon and sugar. The inside of the cone is lined with chocolate ganache or Nutella. Ice cream and sweet toppings, such as whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry, are piled on top.

It was delicious. But beware: the dessert is enormous (for $10 a pop, I'd hope so) and it can be pretty messy.

The doughnut ice cream cone first made an appearance at Datz Dough, 2606 S MacDill Ave., on March 24. There was a line of nearly 70 people waiting to try it. The bakery sold out of its 200-cone supply in less than two hours.

By March 31, the bakery announced that the doughnut ice cream cone would become a staple on the menu, with the flavor changing every week. First it was a cone with jelly doughnut-flavored ice cream inside. This week it was Boston cream, with chocolate whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, a chocolate-covered potato chip and a cherry on top.

So why a doughnut ice cream cone? And why now? A Datz Dough employee found a photo from Instagram of a doughnut ice cream cone from a bakery in Prague, Czech Republic, a few weeks ago.

The image started a text conversation among bakery staffers, and they decided to make one, said Tina Contes, Datz Dough general manager and confectionist.

"We wanted to make one that you could find in Tampa. We're the only one making them right now," Contes said. "You see these viral food trends in cities like New York or Los Angeles or Paris. We wanted to bring some of that right here to Tampa."

It had to happen fast. Viral food trends don't last long. (See the cronut, Burger King's discontinued bacon sundae or Taco Bell's eliminated waffle taco.)

"These mashups seem to be another innovative way for operators to showcase their creativity. They seem to have some level of sustainability, but are often replicated by other restaurants," said Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, a Chicago food research firm. For example, Krispy Kreme offers doughnut sundaes. "The mashup can create short-term interest driving customers to promote the product on social media and drive awareness of the brand. This can often provide some short-term guest traffic, which helps them initially but ultimately, they will need to continue to provide interesting options for customers to keep them coming back."

Contes and her team spent a week perfecting the doughnut ice cream cone before they decided to debut it in the store. Every night after the shop closed, they'd make another test batch. The dough couldn't be too sweet. They needed to find a way to keep the cones from falling apart or becoming soggy as the ice cream melted. They tested the cone with different ice cream flavors.

Now Datz Dough sells about 60 cones a day, said Tony Pullaro, spokesman for the bakery.

"As long as customers keep ordering them, we'll keep selling them," he said.

It's easy to look at a doughnut ice cream cone and think this dessert is totally over the top. It is.

It's sweet, and filling, and within a matter of minutes it becomes a sticky, melted mess. But it's just so Instagram-worthy. A group of four women ordered one each after they saw me dig into mine.

I recommend it as something that's worth trying once. After that, I'm happy to buy a standard ice cream cone. Or a doughnut. Just not the two at the same time.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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