Japanese confectionery company Morinaga has an international hit in its lineup with Hi-Chew, as the chewy candies have found a place in the hearts of people with a sweet tooth not only elsewhere in Asia, but in the U.S. as well. Part of that success is no doubt due to the broad appeal of standard Hi-Chew flavors like strawberry, grape, and cherry, which don’t really require a palate acclimated to Japanese cuisine in order to be enjoyed.
But like a lot of snack foods, Hi-Chew comes in an even wider variety of flavors inside Japan, and there is a connection to Japanese food culture in the newest version, the Japanese School Lunch Hi-Chew.
Obviously, the flavor of a school lunch depends on what the cafeteria is serving that day, but for the purpose of these special Hi-Chews, Morinaga decided to go with the lunch item that’s Japanese elementary school kids’ traditional favorite, agepan.
A mash-up of the words ageru (to fry) and pan (bread), agepan, often dusted with kinako (sweet roasted soybean powder), is tasty and filling. It’s not exactly the most nutritionally balanced thing to eat, which is why the kids don’t get it at every lunch, but when they do, it’s a special treat, and it’s those happy memories that Morinaga wants to stir with the School Lunch Hi-Chews.
One thing that elementary school kids do get each day at lunchtime, though, is milk, and so the School Lunch Hi-Chews are actually a two-taste combo pack with both agepan and milk Hi-Chews included. Morinaga suggests starting with an agepan one, then chasing it with a milk one, like you’re washing down a bit of pastry with some refreshing moo juice. Alternatively, you can just pop both flavors in your mouth at the same time, if you were one of those kids who tried to finish lunch as quickly as you could so you’d have more time to go outside and play.
School Lunch Hi-Chews first appeared in 2018, but were only given to 100 contest winners as part of a special giveaway promotion. Once again, though, the special flavor has to be won, as the 2020 School Lunch Hi-Chews won’t be sold in stores, but will be waiting in crane game machines at Namco-chain video game arcades.
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