Häagen-Dazs Unveils New Veggie Ice Cream

Alas, if you get a hankering for tomato cherry, you have to go to Japan to get it.
Apr 22, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Jason Best is a regular contributor to TakePart who has worked for Gourmet and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Daffodils and tulips are nice and all, but for a lot of us, one of the first sure signs spring has really sprung is that first evening walk up to the local ice cream shop for a double scoop. How about satisfying your sweet tooth with some of Häagen-Dazs’ new veggie-flavored ice cream? That’s a thing now, but you’ve gotta go all the way to Japan to get it.

The ice cream maker announced via its Japanese Facebook page that it’s launching two new “Spoon Vege” flavors that seem plucked right out of your local farmers market: tomato cherry and carrot orange. (They hit store shelves on May 12, so book your airfare now!) As Newsday reports, the inclusion of tomatoes and carrots in the mix isn’t the only thing that makes the "Spoon Vege" flavors supposedly “healthier.” With 8.5 percent milk fat, they contain about half of what most of Häagen-Dazs’ regular flavors have.

What may be odder than Häagen-Dazs’ unveiling of its veggie ice creams is the (faux?) bewilderment with which the announcement has been greeted stateside. “One might ask: Why would anyone use the words ice cream and vegetables in the same sentence—let alone combine them in freezer-ready matrimony?” a seemingly appalled BuzzFeed asks alongside a GIF of Michael Scott blech-ing. Clearly the writer is oblivious of the age-old enticement: “Eat your vegetables, and you can have ice cream for dessert,” which does, after all, combine ice cream and vegetables in the same sentence.

Compared with some other ice cream flavors in Japan, mingling tomatoes with cherries or blending carrots with oranges sounds a bit like child’s play. Tokyo’s Ice Cream City, located in the Namja Town entertainment complex, has featured such stomach-churning flavors as cow tongue, garlic, snake, octopus, and (yikes!) “raw horse flesh.” That’s gotta sound better in Japanese, right? But it’s not like Americans are strictly vanilla when it comes to their ice cream tastes, what with a bevy of artisanal parlors across the country churning out mixes that could make Ben and Jerry blush.

At Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon, you can sample pear with blue cheese or chimichurro. Los Angeles’ Neveux Artisan Creamery features flavors of tamarind peanut butter, coconut curry lemongrass, and cinnamon date tahini, while up in San Francisco, Humphry Slocombe is scooping out treats that include Russian Imperial Stout and Secret Breakfast (whose “secret,” apparently, is bourbon and toasted cornflakes).

And as much as I’m a fan of the basics, I certainly could be tempted to try the Oregon Fir at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio: “Sweet and sharp pine softened by grass-grazed Ohio milk with notes of amber resin and citrus.”

Häagen-Dazs may think we’re not ready for the likes of tomato cherry ice cream, but that’s OK: We’ve got plenty of flavors to tide us over all summer long.