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Leafly’s 2018 Strain of the Year

December 28, 2018
The cannabis landscape continues to expand at a staggering rate. New brands, products, genetics, and all sorts of other exciting innovations and investments came out in 2018. This rise of cannabis into the global mainstream makes staking a claim like “Strain of the Year” all the more difficult.

Thankfully we have hard data to help sift through the vast diversity of modern cannabis strains. So to determine which strain made the biggest splash in 2018, I looked at a number of different indicators from the way people engage with strains on Leafly.

Of course data isn’t the whole picture. For a strain to really live up to the hype it has to be a complete package. Aesthetic, flavor, and experience all must be on point. Even its cultural impact comes into play.

So without further ado, I give you 2018’s Strain of the Year…




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Feast your eyes on the deep purple hues of Gelato, an #indica dominant hybrid of Sunset Sherbet and Thin Mint GSC. Once you smell it, you’ll never forget its big grassy nose. #Trichome covered nugs and robust effects keep this bud in high demand. #cannabis #hyperzoom (📹 by @bentleyrolling / 🎵”Blushes” by @djquads / 🌱 by @cannaforniafarms)

A post shared by Leafly – All Things Cannabis (@leafly) on

This is not a new strain. Gelato wasn’t created or released in 2018, but it gained an exceptional amount of popularity and proliferated far and wide throughout the cannabis industry this past year. This is the year Gelato burst into the mainstream, and the wake it has left is too powerful to ignore!

Everyone is looking for Gelato. In 2018 the word “Gelato” has been a top search term on Leafly, sitting right next to other well-established powerhouses like Blue Dream and GG4.

Find Gelato Near You

In November alone, Leafly visitors spent nearly 435,000 hours looking at the strain details and availability of Gelato at dispensaries near them, more than any other strain.

Everyone is finding Gelato, too! Thousands of different cannabis products on dispensaries menus across the nation feature Gelato, and the amount of Gelato flower, pre-rolls, vape cartridges, etc., has changed rapidly as dispensaries shuffle through their inventories.

As far as available strains in 2018 go, Gelato has been more prevalent than classic strains like Northern Lights and Dutch Treat. It even edged out one of its parent strains, Sunset Sherbert, which has had its own wave of success.

Once you find Gelato, you like Gelato. It has overwhelmingly exceptional reviews, receiving more 5-stars reviews on Leafly than any other strain. To date, not a single reviewer has said that they wouldn’t recommend it to others.


Why Do People Love Gelato So Much?

Gelato is a hybrid with an empire of its own, but it was built from the foundation of its parent strains: A cross between Sherbinski’s Sunset Sherbert and Cookie Fam’s Thin Mint GSC, it continues to ride the wave of its potent, compelling, and hyped lineage.

Following in the footsteps of Sherbert and Thin Mint, Gelato first sprouted in the Bay Area a few years ago. It has slowly picked up steam as more and more people look for the next cultivar that will impact the scene the same way its parents have.

True to its Cookies heritage, Gelato blooms into tight bulbous buds, tinged with purple hues and dripping with a frosty coat of crystal resin. The flower’s sweet, creamy mix of flavors live up to the Gelato name and continues the dessert-naming conventions of its ancestors, a craze that has swept the West Coast and beyond.

Like both of its parent strains, Gelato is appreciated for its potent suite of effects. It’s a forceful experience of blissful euphoria and physical relaxation that can be quite the ride. I enjoy the Gelato experience because it puts me in a good mood and doesn’t distract me from staying productive. It gives me just enough focus, but allows me a slightly different perspective if I’m working on something creative or challenging.

Gelato also has a number of well known phenotypes, each capturing their own hyper-niche market of Gelato connoisseurs with nicknames like Larry Bird (Gelato #33) and Michael Jordan (Gelato #45). Gelato #41 and Gelato #25 are two other popular phenotypes you might find.

The original breeder, Mr. Sherbinski, has developed a whole line of Gelato strains that showcase the variety of flavors and characteristics of the lineage. His Bacio Gelato skews higher in THC and is known for its heavy-handed relaxation, whereas Mochi Gelato is much more bright and uplifting, its fruity flavors coming with a minty finish and a soothing, creative buzz.

Gello Gelato finds some common ground with its two sisters, Bacio and Mochi, and Acaiberry Gelato puts a bit of a tropical twist on things thanks to some influence from Sherbinski’s Pink Panties strain.

With so many different flavors, forms, and offshoots, it’s easy to find a Gelato that you’ll like. Its variety, coupled with mass popularity and an exceptional genetic pedigree, make Gelato an easy win for 2018.

Will Hyde's Bio Image

Will Hyde

Will is a cannabis expert and former co-host of Leafly's "What Are you Smoking" podcast. He's a cultivator and former budtender who loves complex hybrids with piney and gassy terpene profiles. Follow him on Instagram at @the.avid.dabber

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  • Hep Yo

    It’s all about the marketing – especially the use of desserts as the names – which already have the visceral connotation that you want to associate with the cannabis – delicious, satisfying, pleasurable. Then they marry this with pot that is mostly about the flavor – one of the odder aspects of modern cannabis culture, since this is not wine where the flavor is the point (no one would smoke pot with no effect). So, the flavor emphasis and the dessert names go together. Since most people don’t really know what they want, such marketing is effective, and the pot is fine as indica-dominant flower, so no one is getting ripped off. But it isn’t any better than GG4 or various indica-dominant OG Kush variants that do pretty much the same thing – but without delicious names.

    • This is very true. We usually think its the packaging that sells the product – no matter whats inside. Coupled with the aggressive advertising that some companies use – it really is a gamble.

    • Gen.Stewart

      And the truth will set you free !

    • holmesmmd

      I disagree a bit. Your point about effect is well taken. Flavor, mouth feel, psychoactive experience is completely unique to each user. Every human being has a unique endo-cannibinoid profile and thus, are impacted by each varietal differently. Your point about desserts & flavor marketing are indeed an old page taken from Big Tobacco’s playboook for sure. The difference is that their strategy was aimed at young users, not adults. I would argue that flowers are a lot more like wine than not. Just my perspective.

    • Michael

      I love it when someone tells it like it is… You are so right.

    • Susie Mmpatient

      You are so right. And thanks for the informative comparison with other, very similar strains.

    • Banana-OG

      You’re absolutely right man! Take a look at the “scoop” collection of DNA Genetics. LoL!
      I don’t want to grow american biscuits and cakes.

  • Cindy

    I was not influenced by marketing, the name, or the flavor. This is my all-time favorite strain, and I have been spreading the word since I tried it (in a disposable vape pen). I know everyone wants different effects, but this one is perfect for me. I have written a review about it on Leafly, and even asked how I can locate it, since my usual dispensary rotates its strains. Good choice, Leafly!

  • Snix32

    Don’t you think a review of the strain of the year ought to list its terpine profile?

    • Rasmus Madsen

      Terpine profile nauuww!

    • Michael

      Why? If Leafly says its good, its good. You need not to know anything else!

  • Rockweed

    Is there some place I can purchase seeds of Gelato?

    • Michael

      Yes, check out I Love Growing Marijuana. They have it in a fem. seed. I’m picking some up myself, just to see if its as good as said.

  • I love GSC, but Trulieve is having inventory problems with their oil. I would like this on their menu.

    Make America High

  • TweetyBird

    I’ve never had gelato flower, but do have it in a vape cartridge. It’s fine, but really no better than other hybrids like Cookies, or my favorite, Granddaddy Purp.

  • briteleaf

    Many of us live where it is legal to grow. How is it cultivated? What are the flower terpenes?

    • Michael

      Check out I Love Growing Marijuana. They give you a little more info. there, and you can buy the seeds.

  • farmerlion

    Hype and quality are not the same thing. That said our youth want the latest greatest now! Growers pump out a hybrid of a hybrid and name it after something selling well at the time. Dispensaries have changed the name of existing genetics to make them sale faster.
    Oaxaca, Panama, Durban, Nepalese and Lebanese are superior in all aspects.

  • ImKindaCooler

    It’s mos def a A grade strain!

  • Rick Reeves

    II trust 2 facts on quality and the first is a true thc measurement. The others smoking it. All this other stuff is like believing Trump

  • Rick Reeves

    not sure why my first post was not accepted. I believe in 2 thing thc content and me smoking it. Everything else is like believing what a president says

  • tomblank

    Any discussion of a strain without its terpene profile is lightweight cannabis science or just marketing. Its especially true when there is variability in that terpene profile as there is due to multiple phenotypes(chemotypes). Leafly is a good initial source for a coarse view of a strain but until strains come with terpene profiles you don’t even know what is in it. By the way Gelato terpenes are quite nice and no its not like OG Kush variants or GG4, the profiles are different and Gelato effects are certainly unique among those three.

  • GeneCali

    Marketing or not, when cultivated correctly this strain does earn it’s props!