When a Japanese baseball player joins the majors, there's always a story.
Pitcher Hideo Nomo was made famous for his spooky, strangely effective wind-up. Ichiro Suzuki...well, he's so revered that, like Madonna or Sting, he doesn't even need a last name.
As for Red Sox relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa, he may go down in history as the world's first Japanese ambassador of sweets!
According to this article Tazawa's job off the field was far from glamorous: Stock the bullpen with chewing gum for the players who were warming up. Tazawa apparently took his job seriously, setting off a confectionary
cultural explosion when he left out packets of "Hi-Chew" for his teammates to gnash on. What in the world did they make of a swallowable candy caught between gum and Gummy Bears
Well,apparently everyone got addicted to the stuff and the rest is history—with Tazawa leading the chew-charge, Hi-Chew is now an official team sponsor and Morinaga, the company responsible for the gummy delight, has now decided to open a factory in North Carolina.
So now American fans of the soft candy can rest their minds and
activate their jaws! I've always loved Hi-Chew, especially the jelly-like strawberry flavor, and so I couldn't be happier that it's planting some US roots.
photo source: niwablo.jp
That said, you'll still have to make your way to Japan if you want The Juice...no, I'm not talking about the disgraced sports star. I mean the new Hi-Chew Mikan Drink! Yes, for a limited time between December to late January, most of Japan will get to experience cool waves of mikan-flavored goodness in a carton—all for the reasonable price of only 100 yen plus tax, or about a dollar and change. According to his Japanese article the unusual thing about this is who they're targeting: It's aimed at Men in their mid-forties to early 50s!
Even accounting for the fact of Hi-Chew's first release, which my wife sites as being in the mid-seventies, that's still skewing a tad older than I would imagine, too. But the fact that the flavor is "mikan" and not "orange" kind of seals the deal—all the older guys I know here like mikans. This fruit gets its appeal (sorry!) from being so darn easy to eat—the skin comes right off and each tiny slice is like a mini-orange party in your mouth. In aging Japan, it's smart of
Morinaga to capitalize on this nostalgia; hopefully the young'uns will catch on, too
other delectable flavors, such as Grape, Green Apple and of course,the almighty Strawberry, are ripe (sorry again!) for juice-ificationtoo. I'm not a famous baseball player, but who knows—with this article I may just start a revolution. ;-)