Best-known in Kyushu?A trip to feel the “soul” of
an extremely popular ice cream brought in by IPPUDO
If you hear the name “Black Mont Blanc” and “Milcook” and recognize it, you were probably born in Kyushu and grew up there. These are ice creams produced by Takeshita Confectionery Co. Ltd. （Takeshita Confectionery from hereon in）. Extremely well-known ice cream masterpieces that every person living in Kyushu would know. Such famous brands will now collaborate with Ippudo! They will now be sold as exclusively designed special desserts at Ippudo shops. Why is Ippudo bringing in ice creams? In search of that answer we visited the head factory of Takeshita Confectionery in Ogi City, Saga Prefecture.
WORDS by YUICHIRO YAMADA（KIJI）
PHOTOS by TAISHI FUJIMORI（calm photo）
Kyushu’s Favorite Ice Cream
Hello, everyone! Thanks for checking out the IPPUDO OUTSIDE. I am a noodle writer Yamada, born and bred in Fukuoka. When I was only about 20 years old, my older club mate from university came back from Tokyo where he was working and said “You know, they don’t have Champon noodles in Tokyo supermarkets! I went up to buy some for the Motusnabe hot pot but they didn’t have one! What kind of world is that?” I was completely shocked. There were so many foods and culture I have been accustomed to but I found out that they were local foods and food culture only unique to Fukuoka such as extra serving of noodles not being a common thing or that goboten （burdock tempura） udon is only eaten in Fukuoka and I have lived in shock ever since.
“Black Mont Blanc” and “Milcook” were examples of such products. These ice creams which I have eaten since I was little was like Calbee potato chips, an item any person would recognize and I have never in my wildest dreams imagined that there would be people living in Japan who would not know about their existence.
Takeshita Confectionery is a long-established business founded prior to 1894 （Meiji 27） as a confectionery manufacturer. The product that made the company a household name in Kyushu was a popsicle manufactured in conjunction with its already existing western confectionery. The manufacture of popsicles started in 1958. Besides “Black Mont Blanc” and “Milcook” mentioned earlier the company has brought out to the world many products such as the recently talked about “This is Morning Ice Cream” and “Grain Mandarin Orange”.
“Black Mont Blanc” and “Milcook” to which Ippudo made an earnest request for collaboration are their signature products. The former was born in 1969 and the latter in 1978, both of which are long sellers. Especially “Black Mont Blanc”, Takeshita Confectionery’s biggest hit, made a stunning debut, says Ms. Mayu Takeshita, the 5th generation president.
“I’ve heard that this product was developed when my grandfather and former chairman, Kotaro Takeshita saw Mont Blanc, the highest peak of the Alps, and thought how tasty it would be if you put a chocolate on top of this pure white covered mountain. Ice cream at the time was mainly ice lolly and “Black Mont Blanc” with chocolate coating over vanilla ice cream and covered with cookie crunch exuded uniqueness and sumptuousness and became an immediate hit from the start 1969.
Quiet passion that dwells inside long-selling hit products
Why is it that “Blanc Mont Blanc” and “Milcook” remain a long hit seller even decades after their birth? According to president Takeshita, the former chairman was a man of true artisan spirit and never compromised. Furthermore, he was a stylish and foresighted man who possessed both curiosity and passion and looked abroad in the age when overseas travel were rare and tried to take in whatever he can from the outside. “The third president was a strict person rather than a kind person. He was so much devoted to his work and you couldn’t take anything for granted but when I made a confectionery and had him taste it, he would be really engaged in it. I have grown up looking at such a person and hence I wanted to follow in his footsteps, naturally”, she recollects.
Such pure artisan spirit of Kotaro has been handed down from generation to generation and eventually to president Takeshita. “If you just eat the chocolate of Black Mont Blanc by itself you might not think it tastes that good. It is the same with the vanilla ice cream. It is made so that when everything is combined the individual ingredients stand out. Furthermore, we are fully conscious of the fact that we should express the uniqueness of Black Mont Blanc”, says president Takeshita with confidence.。
The artisan spirit without compromise seenat the factory tour
We were allowed a factory tour to view the manufacturing process of “Black Mont Blanc” exclusively for our coverage. Upon arrival, right in front of our eyes was a windmill type building as if to express the worldly feel of “Black Mont Blanc” and in front of the building was a large truck with “Black Mont Blanc” written in huge print on the side! This is when we, “Black Mont Blanc” big fans, all got very excited.
Going inside after having a strict hygiene check there were individually wrapped “Black Mont Blanc” on a conveyer belt and at the end they were being packed into a cardboard box. When I went upstream I was able to see popsicles being covered with vanilla ice cream and then coated with chocolate. Afterwards, passing through the trade secret area, they were in their usual appearance of having been coated with cookie crunch. I was amazed at the sight of “Black Mont Blanc” going through a variety of processes to be manufactured.
Anyone who has ever eaten a “Black Mont Blanc” could imagine but when you take a bite of the ice cream bar 99% of the time cookie crunch will fall to the ground. Actually they can make it so that this does not happen. If you look carefully, cookie crunch is made of all sizes, large and small. If you make the size constant it will stick to the ice cream and not fall off. “However the downside of this is there is no uniqueness to the taste and the texture and when you eat it the taste will be bland. Therefore we have continuously made improvements by methods other than making the size of the cookie crunch consistent. Bit by bit the amount of cookie crunch falling off is being reduced”, says president Takeshita, smiling.
Also according to the factory chief, in order to maintain the crunchy texture of the cookie crunch they do not prepare it way in advance but ship them within 3 days of manufacture. As you can see from this one example of cookie crunch there is no compromise. Of course this sort of attitude can be seen throughout the whole process and they have made numerous minor modifications up to now.
President Takeshita says assertively, “More enjoyable and tastier. With these two words in mind, we try our best to put a smile on people’s faces forever and ever”.
This is undeniably the spirit leading to “Continue to change so as not to change” touted by Ippudo. The reason why Ippudo approached Takeshita Confectionery about the collaboration was because of such attractive corporate spirit. If you are going to make something you might as well do it right. Collaboration ice cream full of such desire of Takeshita Confectionery is truly a work of art worth boasting. With a price of 100 yen, a price anyone can easily buy, product development was undertaken to respond to the wishes of Ippudo of wanting to make a product anyone can fully enjoy.
The new dinning rituals of having ice creamas a close after Ramen!?
By the way, the important factor in eating “Black Mont Blanc” or “Milcook” is getting the winning ice cream stick which everyone looks forward to. Actually, with the collaboration ice cream with Ippudo you do not get an additional ice cream if you get a winning ice cream stick but, wait for it, you get a bowl of Shiromaru ramen, Gyoza （dumplings） for one person or one egg etc. All these are giveaways unique to Ippudo. Eat ice cream and if you win you get a Ramen. That’s an exclusive initiative which you can get only at Ippudo shops.
When you eat a hot Ramen it is natural to crave for something cold and sweet after that. Anyone would have experienced at least once of drinking Latte or having sweets at a Café which is open till late at night after having Ramen which normally should be a dish to close with. The two ice creams are ultimate weapons of Ippudo responding to such needs. Actually what matches perfectly after a bowl of thick Akamaru ramen is “Milcook” with its icy texture leaving your mouth refreshed and after a bowl of light Shiromaru noodle is “Black Mont Blanc” with its chocolate and cookie crunch providing a full-on sweetness. Please just once experience ice cream as a close instead of Ramen!
WORDS by YUICHIRO YAMADA
The only （according to himself） active noodle writer （a writer about noodles） in Japan. Having one noodle a day as a motto, based in Fukuoka where he comes from, he travels all over Japan and eats local noodles with vigor and writes articles. His research subjects range from Ramen to Champon and to all types of noodles such as Soba. In the summer of 2015 he published a book titled “Story about Udon Fukuoka”, a culture book about Udon out of Fukuoka and first of its kind in Fukuoka. His daily record of eating and trying out various noodles are serialized in his own website “KIJI”