Have we mentioned that it’s bloody hot in Japan right now? In the spirit of “desperate times call for desperate measures”, one candy manufacturer has decided it needs to make a change. For a limited time, one of its popular chocolate treats will have…no chocolate.
The bald mushroom mountain
The chocolate in question is Meiji’s Kinoko no Yama (Mushroom Mountain) a cracker-based candy with a mushroom-shaped chocolate cap. Meiji has produced the popular candy since 1975, along with its cookie-based companion, Takenoko no Sato (Bamboo Village).
But Japan’s been going through it lately. Summer started early here, with temperatures staying in the 30s Celsius across the country for most of the month. Temperatures hit peaks of 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) in locations such as Saitama the week of July 16th.
Needless to say, chocolate doesn’t survive well in such heat. Cognizant of that, Meiji announced last week that they’ll start selling a version of the chocolate-capped Kinoko no Yama…without the chocolate caps. The “chocolate-stripped” version goes on sale in two days, on July 25th, and contains double the usual amount of cracker stalks – 60 as opposed to 30 – to make up for the missing volume.
Obviously just eating crackers is a little plain. So it’s suggesting pairing the nude Kinoko no Yama with its other products, such as pouring milk in them to make “Kino-corn flakes”; dipping them in its camembert cheese to make “Kino-nbert”; or putting them on top of its Super Cup ice cream to make the “Kinoko Alps”.
The new product appears to already have a nickname as well. Some Twitter users have taken to calling it きのこのはげ山 (kinoko no hageyama) – “The Bald Mushroom Mountain”.
Why not Takenoko no Sato?
The “no-chocolate chocolate” is, of course, a massive marketing gimmick. But we should expect no less from Meiji: Kinoko no Yama has itself been a massive marketing gimmick for decades.
In 2001, when sales of Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato started dipping, Meiki decided to pit them against each other in an election to see which one was more popular. Thus the great Kinoko/Takenoko Battle was born.
So, why is Kinoko getting its chocolate stripped but not Takenoko? Some Japanese Twitter users pointed out the obvious reason: because it needs the publicity boost. Takenoko generally comes out ahead in most of the polling that pits the two treats against one another.
When asked directly, a Meiji spokesperson said it’s because Takenono no Sato is a cookie, whereas Kinoko no Yama is a cracker. Personally, I think that would make Takenoko more enjoyable as a standalone product. I guess that’s why I’m not in marketing.
Will this new gimmick help boost sales of the famous cracker candy? We’ll find out in two days’ time.
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