The Ice Cream Flavor You Can Basically Only Get In Canada

When it comes to Canadian cuisine, a list of contributions from the United States' neighbor to the north that comes to mind might include familiar fare that is readily available stateside, like poutine, Tim Hortons' donuts, or even Labatt Blue. Interestingly, not all of the culinary staples from the Great White North have made their way to the United States. As a matter of fact, one of these staples is an ice cream flavor that you might have a hard time finding anywhere outside of Canada.

That elusive flavor is Tiger Tail, an intriguing ice cream flavor that was widely available in Canadian soda fountains from the 1950s through the 1970s, according to Atlas Obscura. The flavor is a big hit with (some) kids and even those grown-up kids who want to relive their childhood. Today, there are local and international creameries in Canada still selling this nostalgic flavor. Since the thought of a striped big cat's rear appendage might not conjure familiar taste associations, you might have questions.

But, what is Tiger Tail ice cream?

You probably don't have to possess "Private Eyes"-level detective skills to deduce what two colors make up the appearance of Tiger Tail ice cream. What may surprise you, though, is what flavors make up those orange and black stripes. According to Chapman's, which bills itself as Canada's largest independent ice cream maker, its Tiger Tail is a creamy orange flavor "striped with a black licorice ripple." Both Kawartha Dairy, a family-owned dairy company that is over 80 years old (via Kawartha's website), and Nestle Canada (yes, that Nestle) sell similarly concocted flavors. Sometimes, like in the case of Nestle, the flavor goes by the repetitive name "Tiger Tiger."

Tiger Tail has a fervent fan base. According to Ashley Chapman, Vice President of Chapman's Ice Cream, the company keeps the flavor on the roster "because loyal tiger tail fans raise an enormous fuss whenever its future appears in jeopardy" (via New York Times). Unfortunately, it's hard to locate the distinctive flavor outside of Canada, but if your curiosity is piqued there is some good news. You might be able to recreate it at home! Love in my Oven has a recipe for No-Churn Tiger Tail Ice Cream. The recipe doesn't require an ice cream maker, and it uses extracts you can likely find at a local grocery store. The recipe does come with one major caution, though, that you may have already guessed concerning Tiger's Tail's likability: "it might be one of those flavors that you either HATE or LOVE."

Tiger Tail has had a comeback tour

One Canadian brand that now carries Tiger Tail ice cream hasn't always made this flavor. President's Choice, a private Canadian label, rediscovered the throwback flavor, and it paid off. In a 2010 article, former product developer for the brand Sita Kacker told a comical inside story to Suzie the Foodie about the company's introduction to the flavor: "Our senior management team remembered the flavor as a childhood favorite. I had never had it as a child, and they joked around that I was too young. So we nicknamed it the Old Man Flavor!"

Kacker admitted that she had to do a little hunting to find Tiger Tail ice cream to have a frame of reference for recreating it. Ultimately, it was a good thing President's Choice took the gamble on the flavor because Kacker says they received great feedback on the product. As she told Suzie the Foodie, "Apparently, it was a long-lost treasure." She also noted that classic flavors have a way of "transporting you back to your childhood." (Now, that we can relate to. Craving a Baskin-Robbins clown cone? Just us?) The sentimentality for the sweet has a lot to do with the flavor's timeless popularity. Of course, not everyone feels so tender towards this particular blend of flavors.

Tiger Tail may not be for everyone

If the thought of mixing orange and licorice flavor together doesn't exactly make you salivate, you're not alone. The dislike for black licorice may even be something some people are born with, according to Marcia Pelchat, an associate member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia (via NBC News). This isn't lost on Marie Porter, who has created a homemade Tiger Tail ice cream recipe and even a Tiger Tail cake inspired by the flavor. She points out the polarizing nature of the flavor on Celebration Generation: "While I realize that this tiger tail ice cream recipe will be heartily welcomed by many of my Canadian readers, I also realize that it will sound weird — or outright disgusting — to most of my American readers."

Porter explains that the flavor "may sound a little wacky to people who haven't been exposed to it, but seriously — even kids love this stuff back home." For Americans who do enjoy the flavor of black licorice, she encourages you to give it a try and even has a trick from childhood she shares for savoring the flavor: "As a kid, I used to eat the ice cream from around the thickest parts of ribbon, leaving the best for last." If you're like us, though, resisting the urge to devour your favorite bite of dessert until the very end might be even harder than finding Tiger Tail ice cream in the first place!