The Boston Red Sox have consistently had Japanese players since 2007, when they signed Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima. There’s one thing Japanese players bring to the team that’s been overlooked until now, though: delicious imported Japanese candy.
People around the world love Japanese candy, be it endless varieties of Kit Kat flavors, or do-it-yourself candy sushi. There are even companies that will mail it to you monthly for a small fee. And it seems that recently, Red Sox players and staff have been going crazy over Japan’s long-standing fruit chew top-sellers, Hi-Chew.
Hi-Chew – or hai-chuu (ハイチュウ) to give it its Japanese name – was introduced in the 1950s as a chewing candy that wouldn’t bring with it any of the awkward social problems that chewing gum did (namely littering, and the general grossness of people pulling already-chewed foodstuff out of their mouth).
The Red Sox players’ recent chewy addiction is the fault of pitcher Junichi Tazawa, the third Japanese player to play Stateside in the Major League without ever having played professionally in Japan. Tazawa included Hi-Chew candies in the bullpen bag, a bag of goodies and useful items (typically a medical kit, energy drinks, and most importantly candy) that the least experienced player has to prep and bring to the pen.
Hi-Chew was a hit with the players, including Jonathan Papelbon. According to Mikio Yoshimura, the Red Sox’s “Asian Business Development Specialist” (an excellent job title if ever we heard one), it all went from there: the team has signed some kind of official deal with Hi-Chew, and even installed sampling stations in the stands.
Hi-Chew mania is so high among Red Sox team and support crew that at the meeting where the new partnership was announced, staff immediately burst into spontaneous applause. According to their own Asian Business Development Specialist, anyway. Yoshimura adds that the Red Sox also now offer Japanese-language tours of the stadium for visiting Japanese fans, so if you’re in Boston and want to practice your Japanese listening, why not give it a go? You might get some free Hi-Chew while you’re there, too.
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