Hold on to your 99s – Little Moons are about to change the ice cream world for ever.
These bite-sized Japanese delights are made by encasing ice cream in rice flour dough and they have been flying off supermarket shelves in the UK.
Each one contains just 70-80 calories – roughly half the amount found in a typical serving of Ben & Jerry’s.
Tesco said sales of the sweet treats, which are also known as mochi balls, have soared 2,113% in the first half of this year.
And Aldi and Lidl are selling their own versions for just £2.99 a pack. Waitrose’s Little Moons sales have rocketed by 340%.
A spokesman said: “We’ve increased our orders and expanded the range into more shops to cope with demand.”
Laura Harricks, of Ocado, which sells the treat in 12 flavours, said: “Since December we’ve seen a whopping 1,279% rise in searches for Little Moons.
“That number nearly doubled again after we posted our full range on our Instagram page last week.
“Vegan passionfruit and mango has proved most popular with customers so far, with sales up 376% year-on-year.”
The taste trend took off after more than 15,000 mochi-themed videos were uploaded on sharing site TikTok.
But it’s not just TikTok users who are fans of Little Moons. Former US First Lady Michelle Obama has chosen them to be one of her puppet co-hosts in a new ten-part Netflix cooking show for kids, Waffles + Mochi.
In 2019, upmarket gelato and vegan ice cream alternatives took off as consumers sought healthier options.
Halo Top, a low-calorie American brand, became one of the UK’s best-selling desserts when it launched in 2018.
But Little Moons still have not got big brands – such as Wall’s, Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s – licked.
A YouGov poll found Magnums are our favourite ice cream, followed by Fabs and Soleros.
Vanilla also remains the most popular flavour, accounting for 90% of sales, according to trade body The Ice Cream Alliance.
This year has seen the first dedicated mochi bar open in London and the Alliance remains upbeat about the future of the frozen treat.
Its boss Zelica Carr said: “Before the pandemic, ice cream parlours were one of the few sectors that were growing on the UK high streets.
“There is no reason why that growth cannot start again.”
OUR REPORTER’S VERDICT by Laura Connor
I am a dessert purist and the idea of wrapping ice cream in a fruit-flavoured rice flour dough did not appeal to me.
I have tried some of the lower-calorie ice cream options in the past and they just don’t hit the spot when I need a sweet treat.
But I have to say, Little Moons have won me over completely.
I tried the passionfruit and mango snacks and, while the strange floury texture of the little purple balls initially put me off, the taste was incredible. Ice cream can sometimes have a
sickly aftertaste but these were indulgent without feeling too heavy. The fruity flavour also made the balls surprisingly refreshing.
The creamy coconut option was equally tasty and reminded me of fried coconut ice cream balls – but with much fewer calories.
Aldi’s versions are more than £2 cheaper than the original and are also yummy, although they taste more artificial.
I’m not sure whether I’ll be uploading any mochi ball videos on to TikTok any time soon, but I am sold…