Shikkoku no Cheesecake lives up to its name.

Cheesecake is one of those things that has a pretty standard color, a sort of creamy beige it shares with its primary ingredient of cream, cottage, or ricotta cheese. And sure enough, there’s a photo of a cheesecake with just that sort of color on the label of Japanese confectioner Akagi Nyugyo’s new cheesecake-flavor ice cream bars.

But there’s also a picture of the ice cream bar itself, and it looks nothing like you’d imagine it would.

OK, maybe you’d expect it to be that color if you read the label, and saw that this product is called Shikkoku no Cheesecake, which translates to “Pitch-Black Cheesecake.”

Shikkoku is written with the kanji characters 漆黒, and the first of those, by itself is the kanji for urushi, the type of lacquer that imparts that distinctively glossy black shine to traditional Japanese tableware, furnishings, and other crafts.

Still, we were skeptical as we opened the package. This lacquer-black cheesecake sweet couldn’t be that dark, could it?

Yes, yes it could.

Out of the wrapper, we saw that the Shikkoku no Cheesecake is as black as it can be. As patches of condensation formed on its surface from exposure to the room-temperature air, the sections of shine really did create a lacquer-like visual effect.

In order to give it more structural solidarity, the Shikkoku no Cheesecake has a harder cheesecake-flavor coating, and softer cheesecake ice cream inside. So maybe this darkness only exists on the surface, and inside it’s a more conventional cheesecake color?

Nope! It’s this same inky black all the way through. And we mean it when we say “inky.” Off the stick, it looks an awful lot like the rectangular ink blocks used to prepare the ink for traditional Japanese brush calligraphy.

The Shikkoku no Cheesecake gets this startling, and arguably terrifying, color from the use of bamboo charcoal in its recipe. Bamboo charcoal is entirely safe to eat (it was the key ingredient in Japan’s black hamburger boom from a while back), but it doesn’t have any discernable taste. Instead, the flavor for the Shikkoku no Cheesecake comes from Hokkaido cream cheese, which makes it rich, moist, and extremely delicious if you’re a cheesecake fan. Rather than biting into it right away, we found that exercising willpower and waiting for it to get just a little bit melty made it taste even better.

Of course, the question here is why make a pitch-black cheesecake? The obvious answer is to catch people’s eyes with its visual appeal. This is a new product that Akagi Nyugyo is bringing out, and if they’d released it as just a normal-looking beige bar, it would have had a hard time standing out from the competition, as cheesecake ice cream itself isn’t such a novel concept in Japan. The black color is a blatant ploy for attention, but it’s one we’ll completely forgive since Shikkoku no Cheesecake tastes so good, but we might never have tried it if it looked like all the others.

Ironically, that means that someday Shikkoku no Cheesecake might not need its gimmick anymore. Once enough people have tried it, it could very likely develop a reputation as “that really good cheesecake ice cream bar from Akagi Nyugyo” and be able to sell just as well regardless of what color it is, and if that happens, maybe the company will decide to get rid of the bamboo charcoal and rename it something like “Sunshine Cheesecake.”

For the time being, though, the Shikkoku no Cheesecake is deceptively delicious.

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