Hong Kong shop offers 'tear gas' flavour ice cream in support of pro-democracy protests

  • The shop’s owner said he wanted to remind people not to lose their passion for the Hong Kong protest movement
  • The gelato is made from black peppercorns and feels like breathing in tear gas
Associated Press |

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A Hong Kong ice cream shop has created a tear gas flavour using pepper in memory of all the tear gas fired by the Hong Kong police in recent months. The flavor is a sign of support for the pro-democracy movement, which is seeking to regain its momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, the shop's owner said. (AP Photo)

Tear gas is among the new flavours being offered by a Hong Kong ice cream shop.

The main ingredient is black peppercorns, a reminder of the peppery rounds fired by police on the streets of the city during months of demonstrations last year.

“It tastes like tear gas. It feels difficult to breathe at first, and it’s really pungent and irritating. It makes me want to drink a lot of water immediately,” said customer Anita Wong, who experienced tear gas at a protest. “It’s a flashback that reminds me of how painful I felt in the movement, and that I shouldn’t forget.”

What effects can tear gas have on your health and the environment?

The flavour is a sign of support for the pro-democracy movement, which is seeking to regain its momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, the shop’s owner said. He spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from the pro-Beijing government.

“We would like to make a flavour that reminds people that they still have to persist in the protest movement and don’t lose their passion,” he said.

He tried different ingredients, including wasabi and mustard, in an effort to replicate the taste of tear gas. Black pepper, he said, came closest to tear gas with its throat-irritating effects.

What to do if you’re hit by tear gas

“We roast and then grind whole black peppercorns and make them into gelato, the Italian style. It’s a bit hot, but we emphase its aftertaste, which is a sensation of irritation in the throat. It just feels like breathing in tear gas.”

The ice cream shop also provides a space for people to express their views about the movement, including the use of sticky notes that featured in the “Lennon walls” that appeared throughout the city at the height of the demonstrations.

At about US$5 a serving, tear gas ice cream has been a hit. Prior to social distancing regulations over the coronavirus outbreak, the shop’s owner said he was selling 20-30 scoops per day.