Cherry Blossom-Flavored Treats Are the Pumpkin Spice of Japan

According to Square, the sale of pumpkin spice-related products in the United States increased 1200 percent from August to October of last year. Some might find that trend baffling, but the truth is, we're not alone in our seasonal flavor obsessions. In Japan, the annual taste sensation is sakura, also known as cherry blossoms, and both Starbucks and Baskin-Robbins have gotten an early start on selling their own variations on the theme.

Cherry blossoms bloom at different times throughout Japan, but they largely appear between March and May. According to Japan Today, Baskin Robbins (known locally as B-R Thirty One Ice Cream) is bringing back sakura-flavored ice cream after a 24-year hiatus. The ice cream will include cherry blossom leaves as an ingredient, and is described as having a cherry blossom rice cake taste with what Japan Today describes as “just a hint of salt.” The Japan Times describes cherry blossom leaves as having a “fragrant, salty-sour taste,” and as any foodie knows, the salty/sweet combo is a winning one.

The flavor became available today and will stick around until May. The launch comes just a week before Sakura Pepsi, but nearly a month behind Starbucks and its "Sakura Blossom" frappuccinos and lattes (seen above), which launched on February 15. As Japan Today points out, the Starbucks rollout missed Hina Matsuri, a holiday where eating a treat called sakura mochi is customary, and was too early for the actual bloom season, but given the country’s history of sakura-flavored cuisine, timing probably isn't everything.

If cherry blossom sweet treats aren’t your style, there's always hope that McDonald’s will bring back its limited edition Sakura and teriyaki pork burger.

Images via iStock.

[h/t Japan Today]

Courtesy of Airpod
New Nap Pods—Complete with Alarm Clocks and Netflix—Set for A Trial Run at Airports This Summer
Courtesy of Airpod
Courtesy of Airpod

Sleepy travelers in Europe can soon be on the lookout for Airpods, self-contained capsules designed to help passengers relax in privacy.

For 15 euros per hour (roughly $18), travelers can charge their phones, store their luggage, and, yes, nap on a chair that reclines into a bed. The Airpods are also equipped with television screens and free streaming on Netflix, Travel + Leisure reports.

To keep things clean between uses, each Airpod uses LED lights to disinfect the space and a scent machine to manage any unfortunate odors.

The company's two Slovenian founders, Mihael Meolic and Grega Mrgole, expect to conduct a trial run of the service by placing 10 pods in EU airports late this summer. By early 2019, they expect to have 100 Airpods installed in airports around the world, though the company hasn't yet announced which EU airports will receive the first Airpods.

The company eventually plans to introduce an element of cryptocurrency to its service. Once 1000 Airpods are installed (which the company expects to happen by late 2019), customers can opt in to a "Partnership Program." With this program, participants can become sponsors of one specific Airpod unit and earn up to 80 percent of the profits it generates each month. The company's cryptocurrency—called an APOD token—is already on sale through the Airpod website.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists

Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]


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