More importantly, Mr. Sato finds out if it deserved to win.
When Mr. Sato was 17, it was a very good year. It was a very good year for club activities, and sweet ice cream, bought from vending machines. He was on the school’s soft tennis team, when he was 17.
Yes, Japan’s Seventeen Ice brand of ice cream, which is exclusively sold from vending machines in shopping centers and train station platforms, has been around for a long time and is eternally popular with kids and teens in Japan. It’s been around so long that even our grizzled reporter Mr. Sato fondly recalls enjoying them during his younger days.
The world has changed a lot since then, but Seventeen Ice is still as strong as ever, and recently held its “1st Flavor General Election” in which registered fans could vote for their favorites online. Polling took place between 1 May and 30 June and Mr. Sato was able to get the results the very next day.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Seventeen Ice flavors in Japan:
5 – Crispy Strawberry Choco Mille-Feuille
4 – Custard Purin
3 – Muscat
2 – Colorful Choco (Milk)
1 – Raisin Butter Crunch
Our reporter was surprised by the results, mostly because he had never heard of some of these flavors before. It had been a while since he ate a Seventeen Ice and the scene had changed quite a bit. He used to eat Strawberry Shortcake back in the day, but Crispy Strawberry Choco Mille-Feuille was a whole other ballgame. Clearly kids these days are a lot more sophisticated than he used to be.
However, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to rekindle his love affair with vending machine ice cream, so Mr. Sato sought out Japan’s favorite flavor of Seventeen Ice.
The Raisin Butter Crunch cost 180 yen (US$1.33) and was based on the rum raisin butter sandwich cookies commonly found in Hokkaido and elsewhere in Japan. The cookies were pictured on the wrapper, making it all look even more inviting.
Checking the ingredients, Mr. Sato found that this ice cream cone actually contains 0.1 percent alcohol, so it really does use rum-soaked raisins. It seems like a rather adult taste for a Seventeen Ice flavor.
▼ アルコール分0.1% = Contains 0.1 percent alcohol
He unwrapped his election-winning cone to find it was held in a waffle cone. Originally, Seventeen Ice was served as a cylinder of ice cream on a plastic stick. Some flavors still are, but waffle cone varieties have been increasingly added to the line-up.
The top was sprinkled with crumbled pieces of butter cookie and had an enticing aroma.
By the way, this isn’t technically “ice cream,” but “ice milk.” Ice cream is defined as having over 15 percent milk solid in which the amount of milkfat is over eight percent. On the other hand, ice milk has a milk solid content of over 10 percent, of which the milk fat is over three percent. Therefore, ice milk tends to be lighter tasting and more refreshing than ice cream.
Mr. Sato thought it had a very smooth texture with a pleasant taste that really allowed the sweetness of the raisins to shine through. He could easily see why it had won the 1st Flavor General Election.
What he couldn’t understand, however, was why he had stayed away from Seventeen Ice for so long. It’s just as good as he remembered from when he was a teen, if not better.
And so, when Mr. Sato was 48, it was a very good year. It was a very good year for a flavor election. The winner was Raisin Butter Crunch, and Mr. Sato loved it a bunch. It was the best ice milk he ever ate, when he was 48.