43 Ice Cream Flavors You Won’t Believe Exist

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Deagreez/iStock via Getty Images

Chocolate and vanilla are so passé. These days, ice cream shops are delving into far more adventurous flavor territory. Here are 43 of the weirdest ice cream flavors you can try today:

1. Lobster

You can get a lot of odd lobster products in New England, not least lobster-laced desserts. Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium, a line of sweets shops in Maine and Massachusetts, began serving lobster ice cream as a way to prove to their customers that their ice creams were really made in-house. The butter-flavored ice cream is blended with chopped bits of cooked lobster meat. You can buy it by the bucket, and yes, they ship.

2. Potato chips and Cap'n Crunch

At Beenie’s Ice Cream in Morristown, New Jersey, you can satisfy your cravings for salty, sweet, and children’s cereal all at once. "Midnight Snack" is a flavor that combines vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered potato chips and Cap’n Crunch pieces. Note: The shop, which is named after the owner’s dog, is very pup-friendly.

3. Almond charcoal

Activated charcoal powder on white background
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Little Damage in Los Angeles is an ice cream shop with a goth soul. It colors its house-made cones and ice creams with activated charcoal, resulting in flavors like Almond Charcoal and Black Roses. Mmm, tastes like darkness.

4. Squid ink

Ikasumi, or squid ink, is a sought-after ice cream flavor in Japan. If you can’t make it to Tokyo, you can make your own with wasabi sprinkles. It’s a little briny and a lot photogenic. Squid ink is becoming a hot trend in cocktails and food, though, so squid ink desserts could become a lot more common in the U.S. soon.

5. Prosciutto

Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco is known for its incredibly innovative flavors, some of which tend toward the meaty. The pink ice cream, made with the help of the local pork supplier Boccalone, sold so fast the first time it appeared on the menu in 2011 that the shop immediately decided to whip up some more for the next weekend. While it's not an everyday item, if you visit at just the right time, you might see it on the menu.

6. Absinthe

Glasses of absinthe
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At Prague’s Absintherie Bar and Museum, you can try 60 different kinds of absinthe, and not all of them in cocktail form. The bar also serves up an ice cream made with its eponymous spirit.

7. Juniper & lemon curd

Inspired by the late American writer James Thurber, this flavor that once made its way onto Jeni’s ice cream menu was designed to taste like a martini with a twist. It’s cool juniper berry notes get a little zing from the lemon curd.

8. Yam

The purple yam Ube is a popular dessert ingredient in the Philippines and Hawaii. The tuber-flavored ice cream makes for a subtle, addictive flavor. You can buy Purple Yam ice cream at the grocery store from Magnolia, which makes a host of tropical-flavored ice creams. Oh, and it’s very Instagram-friendly. Magnolia has several scoop shops in California and can be found in specialty stores across the country.

9. Corn on the cob

Grilled Mexican corn
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Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.

10. Pig’s blood & koji

Blood sausage? Meet blood ice cream. Blood can be used as a substitute for eggs in recipes, and in 2014, the expert chefs at the nonprofit Nordic Food Lab developed a recipe for blood ice cream using koji, a fermented barley, instead of cocoa for flavor. But if you do have chocolate, it’s a classic pairing for pig’s blood, used in Italian desserts like sanguinaccio dolce.

11. Caribou fat

Traditionally, "eskimo ice cream," or akutaq, is made with caribou or another animal fat that’s whipped up with berries. These days, some substitute in Crisco, and it can also be made savory by mixing in ground meat instead of berries. Either way, it’s a frothy dessert that has been a favorite in Alaska for centuries. The recipes vary from family to family and place to place, so you should probably try a lot of it.

12. Mushrooms

An assortment of mushrooms in a bowl
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Coolhaus’s Candy Cap Mushroom ice cream has hints of maple, vanilla, and naturally, earthy mushroom. It’s made by soaking sweet Candy Cap mushrooms in the Coolhaus ice cream base to achieve a potent, foresty taste.

13. Carrot ginger

Carrot ginger ice cream is like eating a very creamy smoothie. At Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver, it’s made with real carrot juice and fresh-grated ginger to give it a little zing. You're welcome to pretend it's part of your juice cleanse.

14. Garlic

Garlic ice cream is a must-have at the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. At The Stinking Rose, an L.A.- and San Francisco-based restaurant where the motto is "we season our garlic with food," you can top off your meal with Gilroy garlic ice cream drizzled with caramel mole sauce. Or you can make your own garlic-tastic ice cream at home.

15. Burnt sage

Woman hand holding herb bundle of dried sage smudge stick smoking
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Morgenstern’s in New York City recently debuted Burnt Sage, an herby ice cream made with sage that has been charred over an open flame then soaked in cream. The savory delicacy is then dipped in chocolate.

16. Ranch dressing

Little Baby’s Ice Cream in Philadelphia debuted its Ranch ice cream in 2015, and it’s now on steady rotation. The ice cream base is loaded up with buttermilk, garlic, chives, and dill to give it that cool salad taste.

17. Grape nuts

New Englanders sing the praises of Grape-Nuts-laced ice cream, a regional specialty. The Grape-Nuts (a wheat and barley breakfast staple) are blended into vanilla ice cream, creating a delicious dessert you can justify as being at least somewhat fibrous. Try it at Grass Roots Creamery in Granby, Connecticut.

18. Beet greens

Freshly picked beets from the garden in an enamel tub
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The Portland-based shop Salt & Straw is turning beets into frozen treats. Previously, Salt & Straw's Los Angeles outpost used discarded beet greens to create Top of the Beet, a beet jam and beet-leaf sugar brittle flavor. In August 2017, the Portland store debuted Aquabeet, a bright pink flavor that combines locally grown beets with Aquavit, the Scandinavian-style spirit.

19. Earl Grey Sriracha

If you’re a Sriracha addict, it’s not difficult to get your favorite hot sauce onto your dessert spoon. At Glacé Ice Cream in Kansas City, they've been known to mix Sriracha with the cool bergamot of Earl Grey tea to create an ice cream that’s a perfect mix of sweet, creamy, and spicy.

20. Lox

At Max and Mina’s Ice Cream in Queens, New York, ice cream is an appropriate brunch food. Their lox flavor consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with bits of Nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, and salt for that perfect bagel-and-lox taste.

21. Cheddar cheese

Portion of Cheddar (detailed close-up shot) on vintage wooden background
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If you’re going to eat your apple pie with ice cream and cheddar cheese, you might as well just eat it with cheddar cheese ice cream. That’s what Joy Williams, the pastry chef at Wednesday’s Pie in Denver, was thinking when she began testing out her frozen cheese dessert. She ended up using a cheddar cheese powder instead of fresh cheese to retain the smooth texture of the ice cream, but the bright orange dessert was still a huge hit. You can keep an eye out for the off-menu special on the shop’s Instagram page.

22. Miso

OddFellows Ice Cream in New York City has come up with hundreds of wacky and original flavors since it opened its first location in 2013, and they haven’t shied away from using miso, the popular Japanese soy paste. They've recently had Miso Cherry on rotation, which combines the salty, earthy flavor of miso with more traditional dessert tastes. If you want to make your own miso ice cream, most recipes suggest using white miso, a more subtle variety that pairs well with fruits, caramel, and more.

23. Goat cheese cashew caramel

Black Dog Gelato in Chicago is famous for its goat cheese-cashew-caramel ice cream, which is the only flavor on the rotating menu that you’re guaranteed to find every time you visit. The goat cheese gives it a flavor similar to a cheesecake, and the sweet-savory combo is a huge hit.

24. Port wine and fig

Why kick back with a glass of wine after a hard day's work when you can grab a cup of port wine and fig ice cream from Missouri's Glacé Artisan Ice Cream? Seems like a fair tradeoff.

25. Kale lime

A pile of fresh kale
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Kale lime leaf: healthy salad or delicious dessert? At Frankie & Jo’s in Seattle, it’s definitely the latter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the shop is all vegan, and the kale-flavored ice cream—which is a specialty item—is made with coconut oil and cocoa butter rather than dairy.

26. Durian

Durian—the world's smelliest fruit, which has had its odor mistaken for a gas leak on more than one occasion—is also a key ingredient in the Snowdae at C Fruit Life, a Hong Kong-based cafe and tea shop which has opened locations in Boston, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. The dessert is a mix of durian and mango ice cream topped with chewy mochi balls, fresh chunks of mango, and mango "bubbles" that pop in your mouth. With all of that sweet fruit, diners swear the durian flavor is downplayed.

27. Cardamon black pepper

Since 1945, Sonny's Ice Cream in Minneapolis has been churning out small batches of artisanal ice cream, gelato, and sorbet using some fascinating and exotic flavors. Among some of their most interesting varietals: Organic Cucumber Pinot Grigio, Black Licorice, and Cardamom Black Pepper.

28. Black licorice

Frost—a gelato shop with locations in New Mexico, Texas, California, Arizona, and Virginia—has been creating gelato the old-fashioned, Roman way since 2005. Part of what sets the mini-chain apart is its willingness to take chances on unique flavors, like green tea, cioccolato al perperoncino, lotus cookie, Guinness, and black licorice.

29. Goat cheese with red cherries

Fresh goat cheese on a slate
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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 innovative flavors, including Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.

30. Coconut lime jalapeno

Juneau, Alaska's Coppa prides itself on preparing an innovative menu of fresh foods daily, including a regularly rotating lineup of homemade ice cream that has a tendency to get experimental on occasion. They've used turmeric in past iterations, and have found a large fan base for their sweet-meets-sour-with-a-kick coconut cream jalapeno flavor.

31. Foie gras

A plate of foie gras
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New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted hundreds of different kinds of the cold stuff—including a foie gras varietal.

32. Old Bay caramel

Anyone who has ever scarfed down a helping of Boardwalk fries or grew up in the Maryland area no doubt knows the distinctive taste (and smell) of Old Bay seasoning. The Charmery, a beloved ice cream shop with two Maryland locations, has an Old Bay and caramel flavored ice cream as part of their regular rotation of flavors.

33. Sriracha

Like a little heat with your ice cream? Mason's Creamery in Cleveland, Ohio has a range of unique sauces to pair with your ice cream choices, with a sweet vanilla and Sriracha sauce cream being one of the most (surprisingly) popular combos.

34. Pear and Blue Cheese

“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like strawberry 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 award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?

35. Cheetos

Shots of crunchy cheese puffs close up
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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 make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.

36. Fruitcake

Fruitcake is the dessert that keeps on giving ... mostly because it seems to last forever, and a lot of them remain unopened. But at Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia, has been serving up a delicious version of the holiday treat for 100 years now: Their Tutti Frutti is a delightful dish of rum ice cream with candied fruit and fresh roasted Georgia pecans mixed in.

37. 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 that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.

38. Sweet avocado cayenne

A woman holds up a freshly slice avocado
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Avocado may be one of the world's most popular superfoods, but spreading it on a piece of toast or dropping it into a salad is the way it's most often consumed. However, that's not the case at Rococo Artisan Ice Cream, a popular spot with a handful of locations in Maine. There, you'll find the green stuff churned into a deliciously soft ice cream, then given a little kick of heat with some cayenne pepper. It's a shock to the taste buds—but in a good way.

39. Ghost Pepper

“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.

40. Honey and roasted garlic

If our previous mention of a garlic ice cream didn't entice you, maybe this sweeter take on the frozen stuff—which features a little kick of honey—will. It's one of the many unique flavors you'll find at Denver's Sweet Action Ice Cream, which makes fresh batches of ice cream using all sorts of unexpected ingredients daily.

41. Bourbon and Corn Flake

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.

42. Fig and fresh brown turkey

Roasted turkey breast on table
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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 hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)

43. Creole tomato

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 Creole Tomato.

Wrap Yourself in the Sweet Smell of Bacon (or Coffee or Pine) With These Scented T-Shirts

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adogslifephoto/iStock via Getty Images

At one point or another, you’ve probably used perfume, cologne, body spray, or another product meant to make you smell like a flower, food, or something else. But what if you could cut out the middleman and just purchase scented clothing?

Candy Couture California’s (CCC) answer to that is “You can!” The lifestyle brand offers a collection of graphic T-shirts featuring scents like bacon, coffee, pine tree, strawberry, and motor oil. If you have more traditional olfactory predilections, there are several options for you, too, including rose, lavender, and lemongrass. There’s even a signature Candy Couture California scent, which is an intoxicating blend of coconut, strawberry, and vanilla.

candy couture california bacon shirt
Candy Couture California

According to the website, CCC founder Sara Kissing came up with the idea in 2011 while working in the e-commerce fashion industry, and her personal experience with aromatherapy led her to investigate developing clothing that harnessed some of those same benefits. The T-shirts are created with scent-infused gel, which “gives off a delicate, mild smell—just enough to boost your mood.”

So you don’t have to worry about your bacon shirt making the whole office smell like a breakfast sandwich, but you yourself will definitely be able to enjoy its subtle, meaty aroma whenever you wear it. The shirts are also designed to match their scents—the chocolate shirt, for example, features chocolatey baked goods, while the coffee shirt displays steaming mugs of coffee.

candy couture california chocolate shirt
Candy Couture California

The fragrances don’t last forever, but they’ll stay strong through 15 to 20 washes before they start to fade. CCC recommends using unscented detergent so as not to conflict with the shirt’s aroma, and you can further prolong its life if you’re willing to wash it by hand.

Prices start at $79, and you can shop the full collection here.

The Fascinating History Behind Why Jewish Families Eat Chinese Food on Christmas

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iStock

For Jewish New Yorkers, scoring a seat at one of veteran restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld’s Chinese eateries on Christmas Day could be compared to a holiday miracle. “I think on that day we do more business than many restaurants do in three months,” Schoenfeld tells Mental Floss. “We serve all day long, we stay open all day long.”

Schoenfeld is the Jewish owner-operator of RedFarm, an Asian-fusion dim sum restaurant with two locations in New York (plus one in London), and Decoy, a West Village shrine to traditional Peking duck. While his expertise lies in Far Eastern cuisine, Schoenfeld grew up in Brooklyn and learned to cook from his Eastern European grandmother. And just like his customers, Schoenfeld and his family sometimes craved Chinese food on Christmas, eschewing homemade fare for heaping plates of chow mein and egg foo yung. The future restaurateur's grandmother kept a kosher kitchen, but outside the home all dietary laws flew out the window with the single spin of a Lazy Susan. Suddenly, egg rolls with pork were fair game, transfigured into permissible delicacies through hunger and willful ignorance.

As Gentiles feast on turkey and roast beef during the Yuletide season, why do many Jews opt for chop suey? For starters, it's convenient: Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But as historians and culinary experts tell Mental Floss, other ingredients play a part in this delicious story.

Jews developed their love for all things steamed, stir-fried, and soy-sauced after leaving the Old Country. Between the mid-1800s and the 1930s, waves of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Germany, and Greece began settling in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a gritty, inexpensive neighborhood teeming with tenements, docks, and factories—and filled with synagogues and kosher butcher shops. “You started here, and then moved on," Sarah Lohman, author of Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, says.

While Jewish immigrants found community on the Lower East Side, "there was a lot of discrimination against Jews at the turn of the century,” Lohman adds. "They were often criticized not only for not dressing like Americans and not speaking the language, but also for not converting to an 'American' religion."

Right next door to the burgeoning Jewish community on the Lower East Side was the city's nascent Chinatown. Many Chinese immigrants had initially come to the U.S. to work on the Transcontinental Railroad. After its completion in 1869, these laborers faced violence and discrimination in the western states. They came to New York City seeking new business opportunities, and some opened restaurants.

By and large, Chinese restaurateurs didn’t discriminate against Jewish customers. Joshua Eli Plaut writes in his book A Kosher Christmas: 'Tis the Season to be Jewish that the Chinese, as non-Christians, didn't perceive any difference between Anglo-Saxon New Yorkers and Jewish immigrants; they accepted all non-Chinese customers with open arms.

Jewish customers embraced Chinese food in return. The restaurants were conveniently located and inexpensive, yet were also urbane in their eyes. Jews saw dining out as an American custom that they wanted to try, largely because they sought upward mobility among other Americans. According to Yong Chen, a history professor and author of Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America, "[Diners] were attracted to Chinese food because, in their mind, it represented American cosmopolitanism and middle class status." And they weren't deterred by the fact that food in Chinese restaurants wasn't kosher. But they could easily pretend it was.

Dairy wasn’t a big part of Chinese meals, so Jewish diners didn’t have to worry about mixing meat and milk (a no-no in kosher diets). And non-kosher ingredients like pork or seafood were often finely chopped, drowned in sauces, or mixed with other ingredients, like rice. These elements were well disguised enough that they could pass for more permissible forms of meat. “You could kind of willfully ignore that there might be pork in there," Lohman says. "It’s like a vegetarian eating a soup that has chicken stock. If you’re a little flexible about your Judaism, you would just ‘not notice’ the pork in your fried rice.”

Chinese food was exotic and new, filled with surprising flavors, ingredients, and textures [PDF]. But for some Eastern European Jews, it also had familiar elements. Both Eastern European and Chinese cuisines shared an affinity for sweet and sour flavors and egg-based dishes. "[Chinese restaurants] had these pancakes, which were like blintzes,” says Joan Nathan, author of King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World, and the wontons resembled kreplach (both are meat-filled soup dumplings).

The fact that the Chinese and Jews were America’s two largest non-Christian immigrant populations brought them together, Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food, tells Mental Floss. Unlike, say, Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants were open on Sundays and on Christian holidays. They also lacked religious imagery, which may have made them appear more welcoming for Jews.

Combined, these factors caused the number of Chinese restaurants in urban East Coast cities to skyrocket during the early 20th century. Jews soon accounted for 60 percent of the white clientele in New York City's and Philadelphia’s Chinese restaurants, Chen writes, and Chinese restaurants would often go out of their way to cater to these clients. The eateries delivered their food to Jewish neighborhoods and to individual customers.

Yet an unwavering affection for Chinese food wasn't shared by all Jews. In an example cited by Chen and Lee, a reporter for Der Tog (The Day), a Yiddish daily newspaper in New York City, noted in 1928 that Jewish diners were in danger of drowning their culinary roots in soy sauce. To take back their taste buds, Jewish-Americans should hoist protest signs reading “Down with chop suey! Long live gefilte fish!” the journalist joked.

But Jewish cookbooks had already begun including Americanized dishes like chop suey and egg foo yung, which Chinese chefs had specially created to appeal to homegrown appetites. And as Lower East Side Jews moved to different neighborhoods, boroughs, and suburbs, Chinese restaurants followed them.

By the mid-20th century, Nathan says, Chinese restaurants had become de facto social clubs in Jewish communities. Familiar faces were always present, children were always welcome, and eating with your hands wasn’t just encouraged—it was required. Everyone left filled with food and gossip, whether it was Christmas or an ordinary Sunday evening.

Thanks to immigration patterns, nostalgia, and convenient hours of operation, this culinary custom has stuck around. “Jewish guests want to go out and eat Chinese food on Christmas,” Schoenfeld, the Manhattan restaurateur, says. “It’s become a tradition, and it’s extraordinary how it’s really grown.”

This story originally ran in 2017.

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