You’ll notice some of the flavors seen on other lists, like lychee, red bean and sesame, are not included here, as they are everyday dessert flavors in their country, and therefore, not all that strange as an ice cream flavoring. Instead, this article focuses on those flavors that make even the most native-son of a given region ask “what the heck were you thinking?”
It could be debated whether or not this North American frozen treat is technically an ice cream, being as how it’s made without any cream or even vegan-friendly cream substitutes, but its nickname, “Eskimo Ice Cream” and its shocking ingredients certainly qualify it to be on this list. So what’s in agutuk? Snow, berries, seal oil and reindeer fat. If cute animals make delicious food, then this has got to be the best ice cream around.
Image via Andrea Pokrzywinski [Flickr]
As for more traditional ice creams with non-traditional flavors, this savory crab ice cream is described as more of a frozen crab bisque than what you would normally think of as ice cream.
The lobster ice cream seems a lot more along the lines of a traditional American dessert product, as it has a sugary butter base with chunks of sweet lobster blended in. A Massachusetts dessert parlor started making the treat just to prove that they actually do concoct their own flavors. Surprisingly, the flavor took off and is now one of the most popular items served.
For an equally luxurious treat, consider the caviar ice cream by Philippe Faur. If that’s not your style, he also makes mustard, Roquefort, black truffles, pepper and foie gras flavor as well. Unlike the lobster ice creams, these aren’t meant for dessert though, they are actually intended as a side dish or appetizer to tantalize the senses and prepare you for accompanying flavors to come.
Apparently luxurious savory ice creams aren’t actually a modern trend, but an old time classic that has been long forgotten about. Lorraine Eaton discovered and posted a recipe for oyster ice cream that dates back to 1824 and was supposedly a popular treat amongst the upper classes in the time of the Revolutionary War. The dish itself is essentially just an oyster stew with the oysters strained out. Reviews from Eaton’s recreation of the dish seem fairly mixed and one tester nearly vomited after tasting it, but it would certainly be a brave appetizer for those who want to feel a gourmet connection with the founding fathers.
If you’re looking for a customizable fish-based ice cream, better head to Cold Stone Creamery in Florida’s Fernandina Beach during the local shrimp fest to try their shrimp ice cream with your choice of mix-ins. Apparently, the light flavor of shrimp makes this base a perfect compliment to tropical fruits like pineapple and coconut.
Octopus, Squid Ink and Eel
The Japanese are known for being very open to new flavors. In fact, ice cream itself is even a fairly recent addition to the national palate, which is why they are so open to experimenting with flavor combinations most Americans could never even imagine. Some fun flavors you might be afraid to try include octopus, squid ink and eel. Supposedly the octopus flavor isn’t too bad and it doesn’t have any chunks in it unless you buy it garnished with tentacles. Squid ink has a rather mild flavor, so the pitch black sweet also gets fairly high ratings, even from non-natives.
On the other hand, eel seems to be limited to those with more “acquired tastes” for the fish and is said to taste incredibly fishy, or as one reviewer put it, “imagine a section of the ocean where about eight thousand very large sea creatures have died and started to decompose.” I’m all for exotic tastes, but this is one I think I’d have to pass on.
Images via wilhelmja [Flickr], Katherine Donaldson [Flickr] and Associated Content
Where’s The Meat?
Beef Tongue, Pit Viper and Horse
The same Japanese ice cream company that brought you the aforementioned fishy flavors has also concocted many out of land-dwelling creatures, including cows, snakes and horses, yes, horses. All three flavors were present at The Yokohama Ice Cream Expo and Beef tongue was surprisingly one of the most popular flavors at the entire convention.
Pit vipers are one of the most deadly snakes in Japan, but they are also considered an aphrodisiac, which is perhaps the only reason an ice cream was made from them, as the flavor is said to be pretty nasty.
Perhaps the most disturbing of the ice creams though, at least to Western sensibilities, is the raw horse flesh ice cream, which is as disturbing as it sounds: a vanilla ice cream with chunks of uncooked horse meat. Apparently, it is not entirely uncommon to see horse meat served in Japanese restaurants as a type of sashimi.
Images via foxypar4 [Flickr], Kat the Acrobat [Vox] and Andrea RF [WordPress]
Taste The British Isles
Don’t think the Japanese are the only ones to make gross flavors of ice cream. Master ice cream maker Gino Soldan recently made headlines when he made creamy desserts from some of the best-known British cuisines, including haggis, pork pie, shortbread and sausages with mash. Soldan, who works in the Morelli's ice cream parlor in Harrod’s, is no stranger to unique flavors. In fact, he’ll make just about any flavor you want as long as you give him enough advanced notice and once made a pickled onion and white chocolate ice cream as a special request for a party.
If you’re less adventurous, perhaps you’d like to try some of his easier-to-swallow gourmet flavors that include Yorkshire pudding, clotted cream and eccles cake.
Images via Opheliates [Flickr] and Mattingham [Flickr]
Here’s one from Mexico, I can’t find much info on it, but apparently the Central Mexican town of Dolores Hidalgo has recently had a huge tourism surge after setting themselves apart in the culinary world by suddenly creating hundreds of new ice cream flavors that you can find in parlors throughout the town. While the pork rinds flavor is one of the most notable, it isn’t one of the favorites, however the avocado and tequila flavors have pretty high ratings.
Of course, not all meat-flavored ice creams are necessarily bad. While I understand the frustration some people feel at the whole bacon in everything trend, I do think candied bacon ice cream sounds rather tasty. After all, with a touch of maple syrup and some brown sugar, it already has a very candy-like flavor which seems ideal for ice cream flavoring.
Eat Your Vegetables
Lest you eat too much meat ice creams and need to follow up with some healthy veggies, relax, you can still keep your meal sundae ready with this salad ice cream. According to Food Network Humor, it has a strawberry base with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Like bacon, there appears to be some way to “candy” mushrooms (I’ve never tried this have any of you?) and once you’ve candied them, they are supposedly pretty tasty when added to ice cream. The flavor seems to be mild, but a little nutty and earthy, which sounds about right for mushrooms.
If you ever have trouble deciding if you want your mouth to be freezing cold or burning hot, then Sunny Sky’s “Cold Sweat” ice cream is just what you need. Made with three of the hottest peppers on earth and two killer hot sauces, those who are brave enough to try the burning cold treat are required to sign a waiver before doing so and pregnant women and those with health problems are advised to avoid it all together.
Image via sisterbeer [Flickr]
Spices Are the Spice of Life
If peppers don’t provide enough spice to kick up your ice cream, perhaps curry will. This recipe sounds surprisingly good to me, though I am far more curry-obsessed than the average person, as it combines sweet Japanese curry and carrots.
While many people shiver at the thought of garlic ice cream, it is somewhat well-known and loved, particularly in Northern California, where it is a traditional part of the Gilroy Garlic Fest and a popular menu item at the garlic-themed Stinking Rose restaurant in San Francisco. If you don’t live in the region though, you can always try making your own at home with this recipe.
Image via Mila Sogono [Flickr]
“Japanese horseradish” isn’t just for sushi anymore, you can now try it in ice cream flavor. I’ve seen a few Japanese brand names carrying the flavor in stores, but for those of us who live outside of the flavor-adventure island, we can still make our own with this helpful recipe.
Image via puck77 [Flickr]
Mustard, Roquefort and Grass
France has always worked to be the epicenter of culinary trends and while the Japanese have been munching wasabi and beef tongue, Parisians have been exploring their own unique savory flavors, including mustard, Roquefort cheese, and even grass. They also have some sweet flavors that sound downright heavenly, like Earl Gray.
Image via roboppy [Flickr]
Delaware ice cream shop Udder Delight may not be the first company to experiment with bacon ice cream, but they are the first to make their own barbeque sauce ice cream. Cackalacky Spice Sauce is an award winning sauce made by a friend of Chip Hearn, the ice cream parlor owner, which is where Hearn got the idea to incorporate it into his ice cream line ups.
Udder Delight also has one other flavor you might be shocked to hear about --Viagra. It doesn’t actually include any of the miracle pill, but it is instead a blue ice cream with orange and pineapple flavors and the fizziness of Pop Rocks.
Other Weird and Wacky Flavors
Beer drinkers rejoice, you no longer have to choose between a frothy cold one and a frozen cold treat. Ben and Jerry’s has a beer sorbet recipe in their cookbook and if you’d like some really gourmet flavors, there’s always the Raspberry Lambic Ice Cream, Apricot Ale Frozen Custard and Speedy Stout Mocha Freeze recipes available here.
Anyone who’s ever had to try activated charcoal tablets will gladly tell you just how gross the stuff tastes. So why someone would purposefully make an ice cream flavored with it is beyond me. Although, I guess if you had to eat charcoal after a potential poison scare, it would probably be moderately better in ice cream form. Maybe parents with nibble-happy children should start stocking their freezers now.
Stilton or Parmesan
I already mentioned the many Roquefort cheese ice creams on the market, but how does stilton or parmesan sound? While I love cheeses, I don’t know if I’m ready for them to start bombarding my ice creams just yet. Although the parmesan is described as having just a little salty flavor, the strong flavor of stilton is sure to be jolting to the taste. Perhaps it would be good as an appetizer with crackers though.
Topping It All Off
Toad Sweat is the ideal sundae topping for your cold sweat ice cream. It’s a flavored sauce with chilies so it’s creamy, spicy and sweet all at once. The company sells lemon vanilla, chocolate orange, key lime, and cranberry, all blended with habanero peppers.
I had something similar in the chocolate flavor before and while I’m not a huge fan of spicy foods, I have to say the flavor combination was actually quite good, as it left you craving more ice cream to cool the gentle burn of the delicious chocolate sauce.
Image via Stu Spivack [Flickr]
Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
This East Village ice cream truck offers up some of the most unique Sundaes around, featuring toppings such as caramelized bacon, olive oil with sea salt, curried coconut, pumpkin butter, cayenne pepper and wasabi pea dust. Have any of you seen these trucks around?
I would say the weirdest ice cream flavor I’ve ever tried would probably be aloe vera. While it sounds strange, it was actually quite good. So good, in fact, that when I couldn’t find a recipe for it online, I ended up experimenting until I found my own perfect flavor.
What’s the weirdest flavor you guys have ever tried, and would you try any on this list?