Mochi ice cream producer Frances Hashimoto dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Frances Hashimoto, whose Los Angeles-based company popularized the Japanese-style treat known as mochi ice cream, has died. She was 69.

Her husband, Joel Friedman, says Hashimoto died of lung cancer Sunday at her Pasadena home.

Hashimoto was born in a World War II internment camp in Arizona.

In 1970, she took over Mikawaya, a confectionary business in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo that her family had owned since 1910. The business expanded from a single shop into a $13 million-a-year business.

The company popularized mochi, an ice cream ball wrapped in a layer of rice cake. Some sources credit Hashimoto or her husband with inventing the treat. Others list a South Korean company.

Mikawaya’s version is now sold in supermarkets throughout the U.S.

She also was a longtime civic leader.

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