If You Can Eat This Hot Habanero-Laced Ice Cream, It’s Free

Hirata, a small village in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture, has become famous for challenging tourists to try its ultra-spicy habanero-laced ice cream.

Can soft-serve ice cream be hot? It sounds nonsensical, but if we’re talking about the cold treat served in Hirata Village, Fukushima, the shoe definitely fits. Sprinkled with varying amounts of habanero pepper powder – depending on the person’s spiciness tolerance – this special ice cream is nothing to mess with. It’s so hot, in fact, that people need to sign a waiver clearing the seller of responsibility before trying it.

The story of Hirata’s now-famous habanero ice cream dates back to the Fukushima disaster of 2011. Before the tsunami hit the region and fears of a radiation fallout started gripping the nation, the village had never had any problems selling vegetables. But then everything started going downhill, and locals started looking for new ways to make a living.

Three local farmers were attracted by the idea of growing “cute” little Habanero peppers, without giving too much thought to the fact that they were much too hotter for most Japanese consumers. They couldn’t find a market for their produce, and adding the pepper to miso and curry didn’t turn out too well either.

In 2015, while brainstorming ways in which they could use their Habanero peppers, the farmers came up with the idea to use the spicy vegetable as a soft-serve ice cream ingredient. The idea caught on, and Habanero ice cream became a central part of the village’s marketing efforts.

Making Habanero ice cream is not the easiest job in the world. Workers wear gloves, masks, and goggles as they sprinkle the treat with tongue-burning Habanero pepper powder. But getting the treat down while squirming from the burn is the real hard part.

Those brave enough to try this treat can opt for varying degrees of hotness, with the most extreme  – hellish spiciness – being offered at no charge if the challenger can finish it. That’s a 500 yen ($3.80) savings right there.

A correspondent from a popular Japanese reality show recently traveled to Hirata Village to try the famous Habanero ice cream and opted for the hottest variety. Although he looked brave and determined at the beginning of the experiment, he succumbed to tears and wailing, before cooling off his mouth with some cold water, without finishing the treat.


So, if you’re looking for truly hot ice cream, you can now head on over to Hirata village and try its famous Habanero ice cream. And, while in Japan, maybe try Japan’s version of the cinnamon challenge – eating soft-serve ice -cream covered with dry matcha powder.