Our reporter didn’t know about it either!

Japan has a lot of delicious ice cream brands, but apparently there are even some our Japanese-language reporters have never heard of before. Take Viennetta, for example, which is a British multi-layered ice cream cake sold around the world. In Japan, it’s sold by popular sweets, dairy, and drink brand Morinaga Milk. Imagine our Japanese-language reporter Daiki Nishimoto’s surprise when he learned that, as of October this year, it’s been around for forty years, and this is the first time he’s ever heard of it!

As it turns out, he isn’t the only one. Earlier this year, Morinaga Milk did a survey of 10,000 people aged 15 to 69 across Japan and learned that only 12.7 percent of respondents had ever heard of the product. This was totally bizarre to Daiki. How does a major company like Morinaga Milk have a product that’s 40 years old that no one has ever heard about? And it’s a popular brand in many other countries. He decided he had to try it and see if there was a reason.

The first time he learned about Viennetta was actually from Morinaga Milk’s official Twitter account. Viennetta appeared to “borrow” the account from Morinaga Milk and posted a series of photos relaying facts from the survey like, “Only 4 percent of Generation Z know about Viennetta.”

“People think I’m a type of scrubbing sponge,” the photos lamented. “Don’t call me nostalgic anymore. I’m right here.” (“Here” is spelled with Viennetta boxes.)

When Daiki thought about it, even these photos didn’t kindle any memories of seeing Viennetta in person before. He didn’t even know where to get one. He ended up ordering it online, but that made it more expensive than usual.

The suggested retail price is 630 yen (US$4.21), which means it’s originally a pretty pricey–and thereby luxury?–product. This might be a clue as to why it isn’t very well-known, since there are plenty of really tasty ice creams and sweets out there at much cheaper prices. Still, Daiki wanted to take a deep dive into the mystery, so he opened the package.

What waited inside was a fairly large ice cream cake. It was probably about 13.5 centimeters (5.3 inches) long, 7 centimeters (2.7 inches) wide, and maybe 5 or 6 centimeters (2 or 2.3 inches) tall. The ripple layout is probably what makes it look like a sponge. It was made up of three layers of piped ice cream covered in chocolate.

It was a resplendent, elegant ice cream cake, and calling it a “scrubbing sponge” doesn’t do it justice. The many rippling layers looked more like expensive velvet drapes. While words like “scrubbing sponge” and “drapes” probably aren’t the best ways to describe an ice cream cake, it does describe the unique impression it makes when you first look at it. Undoubtedly this is something you could never forget about once you’ve seen it.

Its highly simple flavor was actually a contrast to its elegant appearance. Though it’s called a cake, there’s no actual cake sponge inside. Instead, it’s a rich, thick vanilla ice cream with chocolate layers periodically woven in. The sweetness of each continually fights for dominance.

It was really good! Daiki couldn’t get over the way the smooth creaminess and crispy texture of the chocolate resonated with each other. The fact that it was so simple and that it slowly oozed out of shape was irrelevant. The feeling of sheer joy he experienced was both straightforward and exciting, making his palate sing.

Though the price might put some people off, it isn’t actually so bad when you actually look at the product offered. Daiki would say you get more than enough for what you’re paying. And he didn’t get tired of eating it, so it’s not like it would go to waste. Considering how much food you get and how good it is, it’s well worth the price.

Honestly, it surpassed his expectations. He’d prepared for some kind of bomb to be hidden inside, but this was really delicious. A luxury product expected of Morinaga Milk.

But if it’s this good, why does no one know about it? As Daiki was eating his, he came up with several reasons. The first is, admittedly, the price. While Viennetta has excellent cost performance, it is quite expensive compared to other ice cream products on the shelf.

And again, while the cost performance is excellent, you do get a lot of food. It’s not really the kind of ice cream dessert you can eat on your own. If he were to buy this again–especially with the price–it would only be if he had a strong craving for it, or if he was having a party or something.

The last issue he found is that it’s not the kind of sweet you can just eat on a whim. It requires care, since it’ll melt quickly, and if you’re serving it to others, you’ll need a lot of utensils. It isn’t the most convenient dessert out there.

Competition in the Japanese sweets industry is getting intense these days, with really high-quality ice creams, dessert drinks, and pastries available at highly accessible prices in convenient locations like convenience stores and supermarkets. With that in mind, it’s not really surprising that Viennetta, which has none of those qualities, gets buried by the competition.

Well, if Daiki had to sum up his feelings about Viennetta after trying it, he’d say, “I’m glad I found it.” He highly doubts that anyone could resist it after trying it even once, which is why he’d love to see it appreciated by more people.

Images © SoraNews24
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