Release | nobu Kawashima
Green pepper soft serve and Yokan? The ultimate local desserts from Niikappu-Cho
Green pepper soft serve, ice cream, and Yokan. Is it bitter or sweet? Is it good? Those questions pop up when I discovered that there are desserts made with green peppers. You can find them at the Michi No Eki in Niikapu-Cho in the Hidaka Region “Thoroughbred Road Niikappu.” I visited there to find out the stories behind the product development and the flavor of those snacks. It was surprisingly delicious!
Table of contents- Niikapu-Cho is the green pepper town. They made snacks and desserts after tremendous efforts
- They first developed “Niikappu Green Pepper Youkan” and “Niikappu Green Pepper Chips”
- “Green Pepper Soft Serve” was a smash hit!
- After soft serve was ice cream! “Icy challenge from General Peeman-ski”
- Let’s eat green pepper to tell stories!
Niikapu-Cho is the green pepper town. They made snacks and desserts after tremendous efforts
▲“Thoroughbred Road Niikappu” is a Michi No Eki in Niikappu-Cho, where is famous for producing horses. The Michi No Eki is conveniently located along the National Route.
Why do they sell various desserts and snacks made with green peppers at the Michi No Eki in Niikappu-Cho in the first place?
There is a simple reason.
Niikappu-Cho is the biggest producer of green peppers in Hokkaido.
They started discussing developing new products using local specialties in Niikappu-Cho from 2011. In the next year, they formed “Local specialty food meeting” to discuss it.
And they noted green peppers from Niikappu-Cho, which they were the biggest producer in Hokkaido. They started developing products using green peppers.
▲Green peppers from Niikappu-Cho has plenty of vitamin C. It is said that one green pepper contains approximately the same amount of vitamin C in one lemon. (The photo is for an image)
They developed as much as prototypes they can and organized the tasting party.
“I once made green pepper juice with fresh green peppers by using a juicer. The flavor was too strong, and I could not have green pepper for a while.”
“It is not possible to create desserts from green peppers…”
They tried creating prototypes and hosting tasting parties again and again with positive and negative thoughts.
As a result, they decided to make green pepper powder with freeze-dried green peppers and use the powder to create various desserts and snacks.
▲Now there are many kinds of desserts and snacks made with green peppers from Niikappu-Cho. You can find them at Michi No Eki “Thoroughbred Road Niikappu,” etc.
They first developed “Niikappu Green Pepper Youkan” and “Niikappu Green Pepper Chips”
The first products appeared in 2014. They were “Niikappu Green Pepper Youkan” and “Niikappu Green Pepper Chips.”
Youkan mixes white bean paste and green pepper powders. It contains about 1.5 pieces of green pepper in one Yokan (175 grams) mathematically.
▲The green colored Youkan. Matcha flavor? No, it’s green pepper flavored Yokan! You might be able to enjoy conversation like this.
How strong is the flavor of green pepper? I tried a bite, although I was a bit scared.
“Oh, it’s not too bad. It’s rather delicious. I can feel the flavor of green pepper, but it was not as strong as I thought.”
The sweetness of white bean paste is lowered by the bitterness of green peppers, and the bitterness of green peppers is lowered by the sweetness of white bean paste.
The balance of sweetness was terrific, and I could not feel bitterness at all.
▲Their original character “General Peeman-ski” and the catchphrase “LET EAT PIMENT” are the icon of their product series.
I think different people have different opinions about this Yokan, but I think any people who don’t like green pepper would be okay with this product!
It’s not a dessert, but another product came out together with “Niikappu Green Pepper Youkan” called “Niikappu Green Pepper Chips” does not have much green pepper flavor in a good way.
▲Extremely thin chips made with green pepper powders, rice powder from Hokkaido, and potato starch.
I would not notice that it was made with green peppers if I was not told. Green pepper is well mixed.
Although it does not have much flavor of green peppers, they use approximately two green peppers in an 8 bags box containing three pieces in a bag.
They contain quite a lot of green pepper in it. Those who don’t like green peppers will surely be okay with these chips.
“Green Pepper Soft Serve” was a smash hit!
In the next year they started selling “Niikappu Green Pepper Youkan,” they produced another green pepper dessert in 2017 which became a smash hit.
The product was “Green Pepper Soft Serve.”
They mix green pepper powder into milk flavor soft serve ingredients.
▲Green colored soft serve. Is it a melon flavor? No, it’s green pepper flavor! Anyone who sees this first time would surprise!
They also tried experimentation and sampling many times.
“We have to produce something edible in terms of flavors.”
“I think we should make soft serve with distinct green pepper flavor because it would have more impact.”
“No, many people would not like strong green pepper flavors.”
There were many opinions, but they adopted the slightly flavored version, which staffs and female visitors liked.
And it became a smash hit!
They sold approximately 8,000 soft serves in about nine months, and the number of sales kept growing in the next year and beyond. It has become the famous local product of Niikapu’s Michi No Eki now.
▲The poster with the picture of the soft serve and huge letters saying “Green Peppers” catches attention! The soft serve is very popular that queues are formed on weekends and during summer.
I felt the strong flavor of green pepper that I almost screamed: “wow, it’s green pepper!”
However, it’s not bitter at all, and as I continued eating, I came not to notice the green pepper flavor.
The light sweetness is refreshing, and it was surprisingly delicious. I would have it again when I have a chance to visit here again.
After soft serve was ice cream! “Icy challenge from General Peeman-ski”
Then they produced green pepper ice cream in the next year of “Green Pepper Soft Serve.”
They were not sure that the next product would sell well although the soft serve was a hit. So they chose ice cream because it lasts long and did not have much impact even if it remained unsold.
▲The official name of green pepper ice cream is “Icy challenge from General Peeman-ski”
However, if they make delicious ice cream again, it would be the same with soft serve. Therefore, they created ice cream to have a more distinct flavor of green pepper than the soft serve even if not all people think it’s delicious.
▲The green colored ice candy. The visual and the flavor was… green pepper!
It was green pepper when I had a bite!
The next flavor was also green pepper!
And when I finished it I really felt I had a green pepper!
The ice candy is like that.
Although it was fully green pepper, it was quite good. The ice candy was a little sticky.
Although I could feel the strong flavor of green pepper, the mixture of sweetness and bitterness was somehow delicious.
Let’s eat green pepper to tell stories!
Which one of various green pepper desserts and snacks from Niikappu-Cho would you like to try?
Why don’t you buy one of them for a funny conversation and souvenirs?
Surprisingly (sorry!) all of them are delicious!
Let’s eat green peppers!
Text, photo / Hokkaido Likers photo writer nobu Kawashima