I scream, you scream, we all scream for … horse flesh ice cream? Okay, so maybe “we all" don’t. But some people do. A lot of people, in fact. Horseradish, foie gras, and lobster, too. Next time you’re craving an ice-cold cone, why not step out of your vanilla/chocolate comfort zone to try one of these 12 strange-but-real ice cream flavors.
1. Raw Horse Flesh
There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where Raw Horse Flesh, Cow Tongue, Salt, Yakisoba, Octopus, and Squid are among the flavors waiting to tickle (or strangle) your taste buds.
Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5,000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experimentations mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, Corn on the Cob, Lox and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.
3. Yazoo Sue With Rosemary Bar Nuts
As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of limited edition flavors, including the Yazoo Sue With Rosemary Bar Nuts, a mixture of cherry wood-smoked porter and rosemary, brown sugar and cayenne pepper-dusted peanuts, pecans and almonds.
“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 70 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have Vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Extreme Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for bacon: there’s the standard Bacon (African Vanilla ice cream with bits of real bacon); Bacon, Maple with Jack Daniels; Chocolate Covered Bacon; and Breakfast in Bed, an African Vanilla ice cream base with pasteurized egg yolks, real maple syrup and—you guessed it—bacon! Bonus points for the shop’s Mental Floss for Trailer Trash: vanilla ice cream with Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces.
5. Foie Gras
It took four months of testing and tasting to perfect it, but French ice creamery Philippe Faur—who’ve made ice cream from caviar, mustard and black truffle—finally perfected a foie gras kind of the cold stuff in 2008, which has since gained some serious popularity.
Don’t let the “chocolate” in the title fool you: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine makes the most of The Pine Tree State’s most famous delicacy with its Lobster Ice Cream, a butter ice cream-based treat with fresh (again buttered) lobster folded into each bite.
7. Wasabi Pea Dust
Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings—not the ice cream—make for an inimitable indulgence, with Toasted Curried Coconut, Cayenne Pepper, Cardamom, Sriracha and Wasabi Pea Dust among your choices.
8. Pear With Blue Cheese
“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Pepper and Pear With Blue Cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett Pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?
9. Secret Breakfast
You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.
10. FIG & FRESH BROWN TURKEY
The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the 200 flavors they have created thus far.
11. AVOCADO WITH MINT & SOUR CREAM
The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Avocado With Mint & Sour Cream.
12. ESKIMO ICE CREAM
If you happen to find yourself in an ice cream shop in Juneau, remember this: Eskimo ice cream—also known as Akutag—is not the same thing as an Eskimo Pie, that chocolate covered ice cream bar you’ll find in just about any grocery store. Though the statewide delicacy has usually got enough fresh berries mixed in to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, its base is actually animal fat (reindeer, caribou, possibly even whale).