LOS ANGELES—Frances Hashimoto, whose Los Angeles-based company popularized the Japanese-style treat known as mochi (MOH'-chee) 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.