- Koikeya’s Karamucho
- With its success as Japan’s first mass producer of potato chips and its position as a comprehensive maker of snack foods, Koikeya put on sale in 1984 the popular snack Karamucho. At the start, however, their boasted spicy hot flavor was not accepted initially making it difficult to market. So, let’s take a look at the history of Karamucho and how it jumped over that hurdle to become a popular snack food that it is today.
- Karamucho (hot chili flavor). First spicy hot snack food developed in Japan.
- They’re hot!
- The hot and spicy taste of Karamucho is habit forming.
Tokyo Bunkyo ward
Kazuo Koike (31 years old at that time) established Koikeya that manufactured fried snack foods and other treats.
- My hometown is in Nagano prefecture. Like Lake Suwa in Nagano, I’ll name my company Koike (lake) instead of Koike (small pond) because I want to have a large company.
- How’s your company doing?
Not so good.
- These are good.
What are they?
They’re potato chips.
- I didn’t know there were such tasty things. I’ll introduce this snack throughout the country and have everyone eating them.
- Let’s slice the potatoes, deep-fry them until crisp, and flavor them to suit the Japanese taste.
- Japanese like a salty taste and the flavor of seaweed.
Koikeya Potato Chips Nori-shio went on sale.
- These new tasting potato chips were extremely popular among women and children becoming a big hit.
- These are good.
- We won’t have a further chance if we stick to these potato chips with an orthodox taste. I want to have an original product that is uniquely Koikeya.
- I’ll go to America, the birthplace of snack foods.
- A Mexican boom seems to be happening in America.
- Spicy hot snacks are popular.
Is the hot and spicy flavor the answer?
- Will the Japanese take to this flavor?
- To begin with, there have been no spicy hot snacks in Japan.
- The reason is because no one has made them.
- We just need to be sure that the flavor suits the Japanese palette.
- There are spicy hot dishes in Japan, aren’t there?
- Research thus began on a snack that was spicy hot and delicious.
- Too spicy.
- This has no delicious flavor.
- Too hot. I’m almost losing my sense of taste.
- All right, this is the flavor! It’s hot and delicious.
- To differentiate from regular potato chips, let’s use a stick shape instead of the normal flat shape.
- For the product name, let’s combine the Japanese word karai (spicy hot) and the Spanish word mucho (a lot) to form the word Karamucho.
Karamucho went on sale.
- This is too hot. It won’t sell.
- This won’t catch on because snack foods are aimed at women and children.
- We can’t sell a spicy hot snack like this.
- Our company doesn’t need it either.
- Nobody wants to deal with us.
- I’m confident of the new taste. It will sell!
- Would you let us handle it?
- Convenience store?
- When Karamucho began to be sold in convenience stores that were a new type of business at that time, young people found the hot and spicy taste of Karamucho to their liking. Karamucho spread by word of mouth becoming a big hit.
- They have an interesting taste.
Hot, but tasty.
- Karamucho has made it to the No.1 position in the convenience stores’ sales.
Flat shaped “potato chips type” made its appearance. It became a bit hit. Two years later when the Seoul Olympics were held, it added fire to the boom in spicy hot foods.
- The grandma character for Karamucho made her appearance. She became extremely popular in TV commercials causing a rapid rise in sales of Karamucho.
- Other products such as Scorn (corn snack), Don Tacos, and Polinky were also later developed. Nevertheless, by changing the taste to meet the times and introducing products available only for a limited time, Karamucho still continues to provide a spicy hot and tasty flavor that can appeal to people’s appetite in any age.
- Karamucho that uses golden chili pepper is also very tasty.