Almost exactly one year ago the Japanese branch of Belgian chocolatier Godiva made a point of letting Japan know how it feels about the country’s practice of giri choco. Also known as “obligation chocolate,” giri choco are the sweets that women in Japan give to platonic male acquaintances, primarily coworkers, on Valentine’s Day, as a general-purpose thank-you for any help they’ve provided over the past year.
On Feb 1, 2018, Godiva took out a one-page newspaper ad trying to convince Japan to drop the giri chocolate practice. In response, Japanese company Yuraku Confectionery, makers of Black Thunder, Japan’s most unabashedly popular obligation chocolate, issued a statement saying “You do you, and we’ll do us,” and that Yuraku is happy to support those who want to continue the decades-long tradition of giving giri choco (which isn’t as universally disliked by women as some people might assume).
Godiva went quiet after that, but all of a sudden, this week the company brought up the obligation chocolate issue again, going so far as to call out Black Thunder by name in an unexpected tweet last Sunday, in which it also talked about honmei chocolate, chocolate that a woman gives to a guy she actually has romantic feelings for.
“When people think of obligation chocolate, they think of Black Thunder! But we think that even some of the employees at Yuraku Confectionery want to give someone honmei chocolate. So if you’ll try some of Thanks Godiva chocolate set we’re sending you, and chose Godiva as the chocolate you buy for your honmei chocolate, we would be incredibly happy.”
About an hour and a half later, the official Black Thunder Twitter account gave its reply, or as close to a reply as it could manage: a confused kaomoji emoticon face followed by a bunch of confused question marks and startled exclamation points.
At the same time, the Black Thunder Twitter account changed its name to “Black Thunder (officially recognized by Godiva as obligation chocolate to ブラックサンダーさんゴディバ公認義理チョコ) in Japanese text.
The whole thing is sort of an odd remixed version of what happened last year. Since Godiva is a premium brand, no one buys it as obligation chocolate anyway, and doing away with the custom would ostensibly leave women with more money to spend on Godiva chocolate to give to guys they actually have romantic feelings for (or to eat themselves). This time around, Godiva isn’t taking any shots at obligation chocolate itself, but its tweet at Black Thunder shows that the Belgian company is definitely trying to boost its honmei choco cred by reminding everyone “Godiva isn’t giri choco.”
And once again, Black Thunder is perfectly happy to roll with the job and say “Yep, we sure are a great choice for obligation chocolate!” Fans of the budget-priced chocolate have also been voicing their support for it in their reactions online, some of which Black Thunder has responded to. “Black Thunder tastes great, and if I had a boyfriend and he wanted it as honmei choco, I’d buy it for him” tweeted one woman, prompting Black Thunder to tweet back “You’re free to use our chocolate however you want (‘-‘*)♪♪.”
When another commenter expressed frustration at the complexities of trying to unravel giri choco vs honmei choco, and also at people focusing on Valentine’s Day instead of any other day of the year, Black Thunder sagely responded with “People can give whatever presents they ant whenever they want (‘-‘*)♪♪ But for people who’re having a hard time finding a special occasion for it, we recommend Valentine’s Day.”
Godiva is yet to make any sort of follow-up to its suggestion that Yuraku Confectionery’s female employees shun their own company’s products and buy Godiva instead for the special men in their lives, and maybe that’s for the best, considering that Black Thunder seems to always be ready to take their lemons and turn them into tasty lemonade. Who knows, maybe the admirably thick-skinned, open-minded Yuraku Confectionery will extend a chocolate-covered olive branch and release a special Godiva Black Thunder crossover next year.
Sources: Twitter/@Godiva_JPN, Twitter/@BlackThunder
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