“What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?” is probably one of the most popular ice-breakers in conversations right after star signs. If you know a thing or two about frozen desserts, you probably assume that chocolate lovers tend to be flirtatious, vanilla enthusiasts, idealists and those who prefer mint chocolate chip, argumentative—while strawberry is linked to having an introverted personality trait. But what if someone with an iron stomach walked up to you one fine day and admitted that their favourite ice cream flavour is ‘squid ink’?
Apart from red flags, this claim is bound to raise eyebrows. Does squid ink-flavoured ice cream actually exist? Who even likes this crazy flavour? Well, buckle up fellow humans. Here are 20 ice cream flavours that will make you kiss your tastebuds goodbye forever.
Spoiler alert: some of these even require you to sign a waiver before purchasing them!
Japan seems like a good place to start for bizarre food trends. In 2013, Torimi Cafe—a peculiar place where customers can enjoy meals while being surrounded by birds—hatched a new recipe: pet bird-flavoured ice cream. Dubbed ‘Cockatiel’, ‘Java Sparrow’ and ‘Parakeet’, the three flavours are made with all-natural ingredients which merely imitate a bird’s flavour. No fowl play here, folks.
But in case you’re wondering what pet-bird flavours taste like, the cafe has got you covered. For ‘Java Sparrow’, imagine “the feeling of pressing the breast of a java sparrow into your mouth,” while ‘Cockatiel’ tastes like the moment “when you’re sleeping with your mouth open and your cockatiel runs over your face and gets its leg in your mouth.” Thanks for the mental image, Torimi Cafe.
If you ever find yourself stranded in a desert with nothing to eat but a cactus, you know what to do. At Fenocchio in Nice, France, this dessert from the desert actually sells. One of the reviews left on Tripadvisor for the ice cream parlour reads: “For years we have seen that they serve a cactus flavour… this trip we went for a single scoop. Unusual gingery taste to it. We won’t be having cactus ice cream again but we’ll definitely be back.”
Meanwhile, cactus-flavoured ice cream can also be found across Japan—with many claiming that it tastes like “drawing water from a cactus after being parched in a desert for days.” Now, that sounds tempting.
It looks like corn. It tastes like corn. Behold, the majestic corn-flavoured ice cream! Available at places including the Sweet Rose Creamery in California and the Korean Lotte Confectionery in South Korea, the flavour in question combines the sweet taste of corn and the creamy relish of ice cream. But according to food blogger Daniel Gray, it tastes more like “soggy popcorn that fell on a pile of yellow snow.” Yikes!
You know what they say: when in Tokyo, eat beef tongue ice cream! At the Yokohama Ice Cream Expo held in Japan, the flavour in question was, in fact, the bestseller—attracting thousands of fans back in 2008. “We have ice cream from all over Japan—from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south—but beef tongue has been the one that people keep coming back for,” organiser Manabu Matsumoto once admitted in an interview. If you’re wondering what it tastes like, imagine tiny chunks of a cow’s tongue folded into a base vanilla flavour. Maybe visualising a tub of frozen milky beef stew will help too.
If you’ve always wanted to taste a freshly-mowed lawn with a creamy texture, this is it. Available in places including Max and Mina’s in New York City and Chin Chin Ice Cream in North London, the ingredients of grass-flavoured ice cream include parsley, violet, lavender, lime leaves and lemongrass. At Chin Chin Ice Cream, you can even get your hands on ‘Chin Chin Freshly Cut Green Grass’ at a steal of £4.45 ($5.85) for a 200 ml serving.
Okay, who woke up and thought it’d be a good idea to infuse a dessert with something from the depths of the ocean? Those who have tasted squid ink-flavoured ice cream describe the odd combination as “sweet, salty, fishy and metallic” all at once. And if those claims failed to raise your eyebrows, note that the one available at the Soft Ice Cream Shop in Japan apparently leaves your tongue black after consumption.
Sorry, we’re still digesting the fact that garlic-flavoured ice cream exists on this planet. ‘Nuff said really.
Forget the black and blue dress, a major debate polarising the internet for the past year is Jeni’s bagel-flavoured ice cream. To date, there have been threats to call the police, offers to trade their first-born child and reactions from “pretty damn good” and “not at all gross” to “the worst thing I have seen in my life” for this one. And guess what? Including sesame, poppy seed, onion and garlic streusel, the cream cheese ice cream in question is re-releasing on 21 March 2022.
What if the creature that we scream at and run away from on beaches could be turned into a frozen delicacy? Well, that’s exactly what Charlie Harry Francis, award-winning inventor and owner of the company Lick Me I’m Delicious, thought while inventing jellyfish-flavoured dessert. While the protein extracted from the sea animal is its main ingredient, Harry Francis additionally worked with a scientist to synthesise the luminance of jellyfishes.
Simply put, the ice cream glows in the dark when you lick it. But to witness this neon green glow, you’ll have to invest £152 ($200) for a single scoop. So, here’s an image of the creation instead:
I scream, you scream, it’s craft beer ice cream! Carefully crafted to maximise the potential of a brew and bring out its best attributes, beer ice cream is available in flavours including ‘Honey IPA’ and ‘Brown Ale Chip’ at Atlanta-based ice creamery Frozen Pints. “We were having a barbecue, and a friend of mine happened to bring over an ice cream maker,” founder Ari Fleischer said in an interview. “One thing led to another, and my buddy actually spilled his beer right next to the ice cream maker. I saw it happen, and it just kind of clicked—why not pour it in and see how it turns out?” Well, thanks to Fleischer and his friend, you can now eat your beer.
American fast food chain McDonald’s is not far behind in crazy ice cream adventures. In 2018, some McDonald’s locations in Hong Kong started offering sweet potato ice cream—served in Oreo waffle cones. While the lilac soft serves packed quite an aesthetic punch contrasted by dark cones, those who tried the flavour have described it as “a mellow, gentle sweet taste” which was anything but bland.
“The taste requires a bit more time to settle on your palette, and requires a little more searching and identifying on your taste buds, but the effort is worth it, as the taste is incredible,” a food blogger wrote while sampling sweet potato-flavoured ice cream in Kamakura, Japan.
You might want to grab onto your churning stomachs for this one. In 2011, Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia, Missouri, triggered health officials when it whipped up an ice-cream infused with cicadas. Literally. To prepare the batch, employees collected the insects from their backyards. After removing most of their wings and legs (some of which were used to garnish the top layer), the bugs were boiled and coated in brown sugar and milk chocolate. They were then mixed with a base ice cream flavour and sold to customers—who reportedly loved it and compared the zest to the taste of peanuts. Turns out anything can be an ice cream flavour if you add milk, cream and sugar to it, huh?
If you still believe pizza-flavoured ice cream is a sin, McDonald’s China is here to rewrite that narrative once and for all. Last month, the fast food chain took the internet by storm with the debut of a limited-edition McFlurry sundae—with vanilla ice cream (so far, so good), coriander sauce and a topping of crispy coriander flakes. Say what now? Costing ¥6.60 (roughly £1), the bizarre creation was immediately branded as a “crime against humanity.”
In Japan, the locals call this savoury-sweet flavour a combination of “milk from the land” and “milk from the sea.” Available for ¥300 (roughly £2), the Mickey Mouse-looking dessert consists of two deep-fried breaded oysters embedded into a soft serve on either side with salty oyster sauce. Many enthusiasts who have tried this flavour admit that it sounds terrible but is surprisingly delicious. I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Another questionable dessert invented by mankind is lobster-infused ice cream. Created in 1988 by Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine, the flavour includes real chunks of local lobster folded into each bite of vanilla ice cream. While many patrons have left positive reviews of the combination—by stating that the creamy vanilla matches the buttery lobster pretty well—there’s just something about mixing seafood with dairy that makes our stomachs churn.
Well well well, if it isn’t the food crime of the century!
Erm… maybe broccoli doesn’t actually sound like a bad idea after all. Bet hey, what doesn’t kill you makes a great ice cream flavour, right? At least that must be the motto behind Tokyo’s mamushi ice cream. For the uninitiated, mamushi is one of the most venomous snakes in Japan and is the main ingredient of the ice cream infused with the animal. An iron-stomached enthusiast who tried the flavour described their experience as: “My taste buds were fully aware of three parts—garlic, a bit of almond, but the third standout, well, I’ve never had viper before in any form (solid and liquid included) so that must’ve been it.” You’ve hit the jackpot, my friend!
Have you ever sat down for a Thanksgiving dinner and wanted to gobble up the entire table at once? Enter The Ice Cream Store in Delaware, known for its ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’ flavour made of mashed potatoes, green beans and tomatoes with vanilla ice cream.
In 2011, Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers 4 Justice and author of The Icecreamists, gained notoriety for making ‘Baby Gaga’ ice cream from donated breast milk. At the time, the flavour was launched with the help of Victoria Hiley, a breastfeeding mother and advocate who answered an advertisement asking for breast milk on Mumsnet. According to reports, Hiley donated 850 ml of breast milk which helped make the first 50 servings of the ice cream. It was then relaunched as ‘Royal Baby Gaga’ in 2015—following the birth of Princess Charlotte and to remind the Duchess of Cambridge and mothers around the UK of the benefits of breastfeeding.
As for the flavour, in this case, breast milk is apparently blended with Madagascan vanilla pods and lemon zest.
It’s another normal day at the Sweet Spot Ice Cream in the Philippines, where employees make dessert with nothing but milk, cream, sugar and… crocodile eggs. Yes, you read that right. Claiming that they’re healthier than chicken eggs, the flavour combines crocodile eggs with sweet Durian fruits. At least the ice cream won’t bite back, I guess?
It’s almost 2023, and you know what that means. Be it a dry Christmas, an embarrassing Spotify Wrapped, or a failure in securing a partner for the cuffing season, it’s that time of the year when we all collectively chant and manifest the affirmation: “What happens in 2022, stays in 2022.”
For some, New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean more than ticking another night off their calendars. However, others need an extra push to remind themselves about the clean slate that the time brings—along with the opportunity to turn over a new leaf promising a healthier and more productive life. From wearing colourful underwear to smashing plates on your neighbour’s door, here are some of the weirdest New Year’s traditions that take place around the world to reign in the ‘next chapter’.
In some parts of Italy, such as Naples (or Napoli), Italians really take the ‘new year, new me’ approach very seriously. Following the motto of ‘out with the old’, the annual tradition is to throw away old or unwanted furniture—including toasters and refrigerators—from balconies to symbolise a fresh start for the year ahead.
Word of caution: let’s hope the locals stick to smaller and lighter objects. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to watch your head in case you’re planning to travel to Naples (or Johannesburg and South Africa, where this custom is also practised).
Scotland has the tradition of something called a first-footing (‘quaaltagh’ or ‘qualtagh’), which believes the first foot (a person) that crosses the threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve will bring the best luck for the house.
In many areas, the first foot should bestow symbolic gifts such as coal, coins, bread, salt, or whisky. Generally, the tradition requires the first foot to be a tall, dark-haired male who is not already in the house when midnight strikes. I wouldn’t object to a tall, dark-haired man walking through my front door purely for good luck, that’s for sure.
In a bid to usher in new beginnings, people in Germany traditionally enjoy a meal of Silvesterkarpfen, which translates to ‘New Year’s carp’. The fish can either be steamed, fried, or smoked. Given how carps are quite expensive and hard to find, it has hence become a superstitious belief to pluck a scale from the fish and keep it in your wallet for the entire year—with the hopes of it bringing abundance and money. Stanky, if you ask me.
On a side note, people in the country also melt small pieces of lead in a spoon over a candle and pour the liquid into cold water. Dubbed Bleigießen, or ‘lead pouring’, the bizarre shapes that are formed by the liquid are supposed to reveal what the new year has in store for you.
For instance, if the lead forms a ball, it means that luck will roll your way. While the shape of a crown means wealth, a cross signifies death and a star will bring happiness.
In the Philippines, the new year is all about money, honey! With hopes of bringing prosperity and wealth for the year to come—just like the Germans—Filipinos believe that, by surrounding themselves with round things (derived from the shape of coins), they will ultimately entice more money into their lives.
So, expect a lot of polka-dot clothing and round-shaped food being passed around this time of the year. To really cement their wishes for good fortune, people in the country also carry coins in their pockets and constantly jangle them. This is believed to keep the money flowing.
With a less spherical context in mind, Japanese new year (or ‘Oshogatsu’) is welcomed at midnight with 108 bells being rung in Buddhist temples all over the country in order to banish the 108 worldly desires that humans have.
These desires are believed to cause pain and suffering to the human heart, and the ringing of bells (called ‘Joya no Kane’) is believed to cleanse our sins from the previous year. Traditionally, 107 bells are rung on the last day of the year and the 108th strike is carried out during New Year’s Eve. People in the country also eat buckwheat noodles (called ‘toshikoshi soba’) at this time to symbolise their hopes for a long life.
In Latin American countries, especially Mexico, Bolivia, and Brazil, your year ahead is determined by the colour of your undergarments on New Year’s Eve. Yes, you read that right.
Traditionally, red undies will bring love and romance, yellow leads to wealth and success, white stands for peace and harmony, and green signifies well-being and nature. In Turkey, red undergarments are also handed out as gifts for good luck and the promise of a fruitful new year. Now my question is, does it still count if I layer them all up for the night?
In Ecuador, locals build scarecrow dolls of people—including pop stars, politicians, and other notable figures—using old clothes stuffed with newspaper or sawdust. The figures are then adorned with a mask and bonfired up at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This essentially symbolises the cleansing of any ill fortune that has happened in the previous year.
The tradition, called ‘año viejo’ (old year), can hold extra cleansing credit for those who jump over the flames that their scarecrows burn in for a sum total of 12 times, representing each month of the year.
Danish people carry the tradition of smashing plates and dishes against the doors of their neighbours, friends, and family to wish them good luck for the year ahead. Do you love someone and want to wish them well? Hurl a plate at their apartment door as hard as you can! Makes sense, right?
All year round, unused plates are saved up for 31 December and it is believed that the bigger the pile of broken plates, the more friends and luck you’ll have in the coming year. Another custom in Denmark witnesses people jumping off chairs at midnight, symbolising the literal leap into the new year when the clock strikes 12.
In Spain, if you eat 12 grapes (known as ‘las doce uvas de la suerte’ or the twelve grapes of luck) at every strike starting 12 seconds before midnight, you will be bestowed with good luck and wealth for the entire year to come—if you finish them in time, that is. Here, the favoured way is to take a bite, then swallow the two grape halves whole.
The taste of the grape, be it sweet or sour, also determines the type of prosperity waiting for you in the new year. Sounds easy enough, right? But I can assure you that it is anything but. Heck, you can wish a romantic New Year’s Eve snog goodbye too. I’m talking drool, everywhere.
In Finland, with every New Year’s Eve comes fortune telling. Around this time of the year, you would traditionally be given a small piece of tin that is shaped like a horse shoe—the symbol of good luck in many places of the world. The miniature horse shoe is then melted to form a liquid and quickly tossed into a bucket of cold water (similar to the German tradition of melting lead in a spoon) which immediately hardens it into an irregular shape. They are later examined and interpreted to predict the events to come in the next year. If the cast breaks into pieces, well… I don’t need to tell you what that means.
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you’ve completed your crash course in the numerous weird and wonderful New Year’s traditions around the world, why don’t you try your own hand at a few of them? Or you can go ahead and showcase your wealth of fresh knowledge at that house party you’re invited to. The choice is yours, and the future is too.