The loss of the Ikea soft-serve ice cream cone left a hole in our hearts…but can we fill it with something else? 

The other day, our Japanese-language reporter and Saizeriya wine specialist Ahiruneko learned a shocking truth. Ikea Japan is no longer selling soft serve ice cream cones!

“Na….Nanniiiiiiiii?!” cried Ahiruneko, giving his best dramatic rendition of “wha….whaaaat?!” as an anime scream of shock. “No way!!!!”

Ahiruneko, a major Ikea Ice Cream Cone fan, rushed to his nearest store as soon as he could–which luckily happened to be the next day–to verify the terrible news. How could it be true? How could they remove the best item on the menu? It would be almost as devastating if they stopped serving Swedish meatballs. The ice cream was a staple of any Ikea visit, at least to Ahiruneko. And it was only 50 yen (US$0.33)!

“This can’t be happening,” Ahiruneko grumbled as he marched up the sidewalk to the familiar blue-and-yellow building.

“This is unacceptable!”

The rage swirled in his chest, ready to burst out in a roar until…

He realized it was still there on the menu.

Ahiruneko could not mask his confusion. “What? It’s still there? Who lied to me? Is this some kind of joke?!”

But then he looked closely and realized what the menu really said:

“Plant based soft ice.”

Apparently, all of the Ikea stores in Japan switched to serving only a plant-based soft-serve ice cream on October 19, 2023, which means they no longer serve the milk-based, milky flavored ice cream Ahiruneko loves so much. “Oh, so that’s what happened,” Ahiruneko mused to himself, ignoring the concerned looks of the person working behind the counter.

Ikea Japan has, in the past, offered limited-edition flavors of plant-based ice cream, including Lemon and Ramune Soda, but the ever-present milk-flavored soft serve had always been a product of cow’s milk. The decision to change their recipe and instead offer a plant-based version that still tastes like the milky soft-serve is unique to Japanese stores. Given that Ikea Japan has gradually been expanding its vegetarian menu over the last few years, including veggie dogs and entirely plant-based katsu curry, the move isn’t that surprising.

▼ The Ikea Ahiruneko visited was also serving a pear-flavored plant-based ice cream.

The new ice cream was developed over two years and is made with soy milk instead of cow’s milk. “So…isn’t that just cold tofu?!” Ahiruneko whined. “What’s so good about that?”

Like it or not, as a reputable journalist, he had to give it a try, of course. It was the same price of just 50 yen. Unlike the snowy white color of the cow milk soft serve, this one was more of an off-white color, though Ahiruneko guessed he probably wouldn’t have noticed the difference if he hadn’t already known.

When he gave it a taste, he paused in surprise.

It tasted like a regular vanilla cone. It was a perfectly natural flavor, a flavor you’d expect from soft-serve. Though it might make you pause and think, “Is this what Ikea’s ice cream always tastes like?” it certainly doesn’t point itself out as plant-based.

According to Ikea, they deliberately used a soy milk that doesn’t have a strong flavor or aroma of soy to create a soft-serve ice cream with almost the same richness and flavor as the original milk-based recipe. Ahiruneko had to agree that the ice cream was delightfully refreshing while also keeping the soy milk flavor really light. Well, the ice cold temperature might have helped…but regardless, it was much less “soy” than he’d expected.

The texture was on point too. Normally when you trade cow’s milk out for soy milk in ice cream products, it produces something a little more icy, with almost a crunchy texture, but Ikea apparently combined the soy milk with other ingredients to give it the same smooth, creamy feel. Ikea’s soft-serve ice cream wasn’t the thick, rich kind, so Ahiruneko supposed that changing the milk wouldn’t alter its texture too much anyway.

More than anything, though, he really appreciated that the price was still just 50 yen, even for a plant-based alternative. Fans of the original ice cream cone might have different opinions of the flavor, but at least the price could garner no complaints. He’d love to bring friends of family to Ikea and order them an ice cream cone, just to see if they’d notice a difference.

Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]