Photo/IllutrationA woman holds Kanazawa Ice, a popsicle that is billed as not melting easily, in Kanazawa on July 19. (Kenta Sujino)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

KANAZAWA--A popsicle, by conventional wisdom, starts melting around the edges soon after taken out in the hot summer sun.

But one sold at a shop in this city’s Higashi-Chaya district, a popular tourist destination, won't make a sticky mess of things in the heat.

The shop, Kanazawa Ice, touts its product of the same name as “not melting popsicles.”

When an Asahi Shimbun reporter visited the shop recently, the temperature was a balmy 28 degrees.

Some of the customers at the shop headed outside with popsicles in hand to test if the frozen snack indeed lived up to its marketing slogan.

Staring at her popsicle for five minutes under the sun, a 30-year-old woman who was visiting from Chiba Prefecture, said, “No change in the appearance.” Her companion, a 40-year-old man, agreed.

“If they were regular popsicles, drips would have started trickling down fast,” he marveled.

The intriguing products are manufactured by Biotherapy Development Research Center Co. in Kanazawa.

The company began marketing the popsicles in April, also retailing them at outlets in Osaka and Tokyo.

The company’s president, Takeshi Toyoda, claims that its popsicles “will remain almost the same even if exposed to the hot air from a dryer.”

When heat from a dryer was applied in an air-conditioned room, a vanilla popsicle that was purchased from a regular shop began melting around the edges almost instantly.

But the Kanazawa Ice retained its original shape even after five minutes. It also tasted cool.

The secret is the use of a polyphenol liquid extracted from strawberries, said Tomihisa Ota, professor emeritus of pharmacy at Kanazawa University, who developed the melt-resistant popsicles.

“Polyphenol liquid has properties to make it difficult for water and oil to separate so that a popsicle containing it will be able to retain the original shape of the cream for a longer time than usual and be hard to melt," he said.

The discovery of strawberry polyphenol’s unique property was made by accident.

The Biotherapy Development Research Center asked a pastry chef in Miyagi Prefecture to make new confectionery by way of trial using polyphenol from strawberries. It was part of efforts by the company to help strawberry farmers in Miyagi Prefecture affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

After the disaster, the farmers began growing the fruit again, but their produce was not in good enough shape to be marketable. So the company decided to make the best use of strawberry polyphenol.

Later the company received a complaint from the pastry chef, who said “dairy cream solidified instantly when strawberry polyphenol was added.”

The chef was concerned that the polyphenol contained “something suspicious.”

That led Ota to use the strawberry polyphenol to make popsicles that would not melt easily.

Before he came up with the current version, he tried many variations, using a variety of milks and fresh creams from different producers as well as changing the combination, the amount of polyphenol and other conditions.