Unfortunately, this ice cream isn’t a replacement for your daily iron supplements, but it sure tastes good!

When it comes to ice cream, it seems like Japan has it all. From ice cream fit for royalty to ice cream made with Japan’s stinkiest fish, fans of the sweet and chilly treat can taste test a wide variety of flavors, and recently, to the joy of ice cream lovers, another one-of-a-kind ice cream flavor has made its debut: iron ice cream!

Dubbed “Tsubame-Sanjo Iron Ice Cream,” the intriguing ice cream is made in Niigata prefecture’s Tsubame-Sanjo, which is a locality saddled between Tsubame city and Sanjo city that’s well-known for its metalworking. The cap is illustrated with an assortment of tools and cutlery manufactured in the same area, and overall, we were rather charmed by its homage to one of Tsubame-Sanjo’s traditional industries.

Of course, with any novel ice cream flavor, it’s a must to check the ingredients. Our eyes scanned the ingredients label, and among familiar words such as “milk” and “cream,” we found it: iron! There was bonafide iron in this ice cream! But as our initial excitement passed, we finally reckoned with ourselves. Should we really be eating this?

There was only one solution to our dilemma and it was to devour the ice cream, naturally. After a small, slightly nervous, tussle with the lid, we were met with a surprising sight. Generously ladled onto the top of the ice cream was a mix of edible bamboo charcoal powder and iron, and while the novelty of it all was delightful, we were slightly dissatisfied by how weak the iron’s scent was.

We next dipped our spoon into the ice cream, and found its texture was pleasantly gelato-esque, though we were further disappointed that the smell of iron didn’t grow stronger despite mixing the powder and the ice cream together. Was there really iron in this? Or had we been tricked with false advertising and an inaccurate ingredients label?

Taking our first bite, we were immediately met with a powerful milk flavor. Regardless of the bamboo charcoal and iron-to-ice-cream ratio, the taste of milk was consistent. Even though its sweetness was on the lighter side, its overall profile was robust… or that was what we thought until the iron hit.

The more ice cream we ate, the stronger a metallic taste followed. A perfect balance was struck between the iron and the ice cream’s distinct milk flavor, and as an extra bonus, we found that the bamboo charcoal and iron rendered the ice cream crunchy. It was a fun texture, and we could imagine folks who like a little extra pizazz to their sweets would appreciate it.

Overall, we found the iron ice cream to be a delicious dessert, and would highly recommend it to ice cream fans and foodies who want to try something new. Tsubame-Sanjo Iron Ice Cream is currently available for 400 yen (US$3.71) a pop at Sanjo city’s Gelateria Coco, and this special treat will also be available online within early to mid-summer. And if you happen to be craving ice cream now, no worries as Godiva as well as Haagen-Dazs has you covered.

Store Information
Gelateria Coco / ジェラテリア・ココ
Address: Niigata-ken, Sanjo-shi, Fukushima Shiden Cho 634
Open 9:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

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