There’s a new ice cream prowling Instagram feeds across the U.S. and it’s equal parts delicious and adorable. The Japanese cake-based fish treat called Taiyaki has finally made it to America’s shores.
If you’ve traveled around Japan, you’ll have undoubtedly come across the fish-shaped pancake. The most common version is filled with a red bean paste, but there are endless variations. It’s really not even that new to put ice cream in a taiyaki, just new to American ice cream parlors. Not surprisingly, Instafoodies are eating it up.
Taiyaki hit the social media motherlode by combining a super photogenic treat that’s filled with ice cream (and who doesn’t love to indulge in some ice cream?). Shops across the U.S. have been leaning heavily into Japanese flavors by offering red bean, black sesame, and matcha ice creams for your taiyaki. To add to the mystique, parlors in New York and San Francisco have even been limiting their production of taiyaki cones to 15 pieces daily — which is really driving the digital masses to catch one for themselves. Of course, it all seems audaciously contrived if you’re aware that the cones are mass produced everywhere else.
The truth is, taiyaki has been around for over 100 years. According to The Japan Times, “Taiyaki traces its 1909 origins to the Naniwaya Souhonten shop in the Asabu-Juban district in Minato Ward, Tokyo.” The treat is so popular in Japan that corner kiosks can sell up to 800 per day. The taiyaki exploded to popularity in the 1970s as a cultural icon when Masato Shimon crooned about the treat on TV and enshrined taiyaki as a national treasure.
Now, in 2016 you can enjoy that catchy tune while you wait endlessly in line to snag one of the suddenly exclusive taiyaki in an American ice cream parlor!