MATSUE, Shimane Pref. – Sugared beans, a traditional Japanese sweet, have gained newfound popularity thanks to an unlikely name change instigated by a local confectionery here.
Gorilla Boogers, now one of the most sought-after souvenir items at zoos across the country, have brought in a flood of orders for Oka Isaburo Shoten, producer of the sweets.
A 110-gram package of sugared black beans, priced at 500 yen, features an illustration of a gorilla picking its nose. The beans are domestically grown and mildly sweet.
The confectioner initially began selling the product in an ordinary package two years ago. However, inspired by a comedian at a local “rakugo” storytelling club, the president of the confectioner, Kazumasa Oka, decided it was time to give the common snack an uncommon new name.
When club members were munching on the bean snacks Oka brought them one day, one of them said, “They look like gorilla boogers.” After making much ado over the topic with his joke-loving friends, Oka decided to rename the product.
Starting this year, Oka has been marketing the renamed product through souvenir shops at 11 zoos, including Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo and the Fukuoka Municipal Zoo in Fukuoka.
Oka said his company, which has sold some 10,000 packages to date, plans to expand its sales channels. At the moment, however, he said he’s getting more orders than he can fill.
“Laughter and beans are the source of good health. I’ll be happy if this unique name becomes a laughingstock at home and at the workplace,” Oka said.
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