TOKYO (TR) – With Valentine’s Day falling on a weekday for the first time in three years, makers and retailers are pushing novel products and events to drum up added interest for the holiday, reports Fuji News Network (Jan. 29).
For February 14, this year a Wednesday, noodle makers are offering a range of novel noodle treats products, including sweet udon and chocolate-flavored yakisoba.
On January 9, instant food maker Myojo Foods, a subsidiary of Nissin Foods, reissued a yakisoba noodle product within its Ippei-chan brand that includes chocolate cubes. The release is considered an overall upgrade, especially when it comes to sweetness, over a similar product that hit store shelves last year, according to the company.
Two weeks later, Toyo Suisan released a variation of its popular Maru-chan Akai Kitsune Udon instant noodle product that comes in a package with a pink-ribbon and heart printed on the top. With chocolate flavor not included, the design is intended to convey an element of “sweetness.”
According to the network, “participation” is a buzzword for 2017. For example, the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama is holding workshops where visitors can make their own heart-shaped instant noodles.
On a recent day, about 200 participants, including elementary school students and foreigners, were guided through the steps of making instant noodles, from the first steps of kneading flour and stretching noodles through to adding seasoning and using a noodle-cutting machine.
“Something you can’t do at home”
Meanwhile, the Odakyu Department Store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Sunday offered visitors the opportunity to make chocolate by grinding cocoa beans using a stone miller in what is claimed to have been a world-first experience. A participant said the cocoa bean grinding event was “something you can’t do at home.”
A so-called “bean-to-bar” trend, where chocolatiers grind carefully selected cocoa beans on-site and press them into chocolate, is slowly taking root in Japan. Minimal Chocolate has three branches across Tokyo, and holds workshops allowing visitors to hand-make their own chocolate.