We all have ice creams and popsicles that we are familiar with, that we have had since childhood, whose TV commercial jingles bring back fond memories. Growing up with those sweet treats made it way more fun, and having it again makes you feel tinges of nostalgia as if you’re being transported back in time to when you were a guileless, carefree kid on perpetual sugar highs… Here are some ice creams and popsicles commonly found throughout Japan!
Additionally, they are all very wallet-friendly and cost only about 100+ yen each.
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Made by Glico, Papico is a sherbet that comes in 2 easy-to-squeeze soft “bottles” that are attached. They are ideal for sharing; there is a ring on either bottle where two people may hold to pull them apart. The original flavor is café au lait, but there are more than 10 seasonal flavours such as cherry, matcha, lemon, grape, apple, peach, Calpis, and even an energy drink flavor!
Gari gari is onomatopoeia for the “crunch crunch” sound. It is a frozen ice confectionary created in 1980 by Akagi, and is known for having a standard low price at only 74 yen at any retail location. The mascot is a boy (kun refers to boy), and the signature flavor is soda, or ramune ラムネ, in signature blue. There is a long running campaign where if you are lucky to uncover an “Atari 当たり” ice cream stick, you get another one on the house! There are other seasonal flavours such as watermelon, wanashi 和梨 or Japanese pear, grape and cola, as well as a higher end range which has richer flavors like chocolate chip and tropical sherbet.
Made by Lotte, Coolish is an ice milk with milkshake-like consistency that comes in aluminum pouches. The label at the bottom says 飲むアイス, which literally translates to “ice cream for drinking”. The classic flavor is vanilla, but there are also other flavors like chocolate, kiwi, yoghurt, cappuccino, and many more! It makes for a handy ice pack as well.
A vanilla bar coated with chocolate and tiny rice crispies. There are equivalents in almost every other country so this one is probably the most relatable of the lot! It has one summer variant, Choco Mint.
Ice cream in a cup, simple as that. Launched in 1994, Meiji has managed to keep this simple concept running strong. It may also be found in other Asian countries. The original flavor is vanilla, but there are also other flavors such as cookie vanilla, chocolate mint, matcha, cheesecake, blueberry yoghurt, chestnut, and many more!
Started in 1972 by Morinaga, this is a classic ice cream sandwich that has seen several revamps. It has a crisp wafer cover, with vanilla milk ice cream and a wedge of chocolate down the middle. It is amazing how the wafer remains so crisp! It has rectangular grooves in the wafer, which may be easily broken and shared with your friends.
Daifuku is a mochi dessert that is wrapped in skins made of glutinous rice, and usually has fillings such as azuki bean paste. Yukimi means “viewing snow”, and the name hails from the dusting of flour on the mochi to keep it from sticking. Made in 1981 by Lotte, one pack has 2 daifukus and a little pick, and is filled with vanilla ice cream and a bit of jam. Common flavors are chocolate, strawberry, sakura and azuki bean.
Shirokuma, literally meaning white bear, is an ice cream parfait that has a cute polar bear on the front. Made by Marunaga, it is a product of Kyushu and has condensed milk in the ice confection, along with toppings such as frozen fruit or azuki bean. There are tropical bar versions available only during spring and summer.
In stores since 1976, Pino is another classic by Morinaga. Each box has 6 dainty pudding shaped orbs of vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate, and a pick to eat them with (with your pinky finger held up, mind you). There are some other flavors such as chestnut, matcha, and rum and raisin, but nothing fruity.
Started in 1999 by Lotte, this icy sherbet in a box has got to be the most innovative and well thought out. Besides, the design of the box is simplistic, and is also made of cardboard and hence easily combustible. The big 爽character means “refreshing!” and has an upbeat connotation of “feels good!”. Besides the classic vanilla, there are flavors like mikan (tangerine), matcha, yoghurt, soda float and coke float (which taste so much like the real deal and has pretty swirls!) as well as a personal favorite: the watermelon flavor! It is light, refreshing, and has little ramune “seeds” to boot!
Suika means watermelon in Japanese, and this ice confectionary not only tastes but also looks like a slice of watermelon! It comes in red and yellow, and has little chocolate crispies for seeds. It is relatively bigger than the other popsicles, and is really fun to eat. The red part tastes like sweet watermelon of course, but the green rind part tastes like lime. Oishii!