Häagen-Dazs Japan turns 30 with a flourish
Cherry blossoms and roses have been revered in Japan for centuries. Now, to honor the 30th anniversary of Häagen-Dazs Japan, flavors representing these beautiful flowers have been created to mark the occasion.
Introduced on Feb. 3 and available through July, the mini-cups in sakura (cherry blossom) and rose flavors represent Häagen-Dazs Japan’s homage to consumers who have enjoyed this ice cream for decades, says Bela Schweiger, vice president of Häagen-Dazs Japan.
“The selection of sakura and rose was based on their popularity as flowers and potential as ingredients in sweets,” says Bela. “And they make for great tasting ice cream.”
Sakura is the most loved flower in Japan, and the symbol of spring. Roses – which connotes luxury – are the flowers most appreciated as a gift in Japan. As for flavoring, sakura is commonly used in Japanese confectionaries, and rose is popular among Western artisan pastry makers.
Häagen-Dazs’ Sakura mini-cup includes sakura-flavored ice cream and cherry variegate sauce covered with a pink-colored sakura sauce. This ice cream includes flower petal powder with a hint of salt, and cherry sauce made from sour cherries.
The Rose mini-cup contains strawberry ice cream with an aromatic Damask rose extract and plum sauce with the mild fragrance of Turkish rose extract. It’s covered with a rose sauce.
A history of Häagen-Dazs in Japan
Japan became the fifth region outside the U.S. to taste Häagen-Dazs ice cream, which began in New York City in 1921. Canada and Puerto Rico were first in 1982. By the next year when Häagen-Dazs was purchased by Pillsbury (which was later acquired by General Mills), the brand was introduced in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Häagen-Dazs Japan was established in August 1984, and ice cream sales began two months later in department stores and high-end supermarkets.
By November of that year, the first Häagen-Dazs shop opened in the hip and affluent Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo. Employees were greeted by long queues of customers who desired their first taste of this super premium ice cream.
At its peak in the mid-1990s, Häagen-Dazs Japan operated more than 90 ice cream shops, the last of which closed in the spring of 2013.
Three of the five original flavors – Vanilla, Strawberry and Rum Raisin – continue to be strong sellers for Häagen-Dazs Japan. The other two – Swiss Almond Chocolate and Coffee Chip Cookie – are no longer available.
Today, Häagen-Dazs Japan sells 12 to 15 flavors with the best sellers being Vanilla, Strawberry and Green Tea.
All of Häagen-Dazs Japan’s ice cream is made from milk produced in Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture in Japan. The ice cream is manufactured in the country’s central-located Gunma prefecture at a factory operated by Takanashi Milk Co., one of General Mills’ joint venture partners in Häagen-Dazs Japan.
General Mills has a 50 percent stake in Häagen-Dazs Japan. Takanashi Milk owns 10 percent, and the remaining 40 percent is held by Osaka-based Suntory Holdings Ltd.
Bela promises more innovation to come continuously living up to the Häagen-Dazs promise of creating nothing but the best.
“Our ingredients from Japan and around the world meet the high standards that are the trademarks of Häagen-Dazs, the best ice cream in the world,” he says.