American sweets in Japan.

Well, well. Looks like Cold Stone Creamery and Krispy Kreme Donuts made their way over to Tokyo. Yeah, I realize I am a little behind on the news, but that’s okay; when I did live in Japan two years ago, I didn’t really pay attention to American foods since I wanted to eat more Japanese foods. However, during this trip, I came to Japan equipped with a little more knowledge about marketing/exporting products/services/etc. overseas thanks to my marketing classes from last year. I was curious to see–what did these companies adapt on their menus in terms of appealing to local tastes? What did they keep the same? How’s it different from in the US?

As you may have noticed in my blog posts from this trip, I have done a lot of comparisons between the American and Japanese cultures. It’s no doubt an interesting topic to talk about, think about–heck, I’ve been discussing differences with my Japanese friends since I’ve arrived here.

Anyway, I digress.

Since the Cold Stone Creamery shop opened downstairs in LUMINE at Tachikawa station, I decided to go check it out today. The line was decent; today’s a Friday, so it’s probably best that I came before the weekend rush. The set-up is different, of course; instead of just ordering at the counter, there’s a “waitress” standing around with menus and a scribble pad. We customers have to wave her down when we’re ready to order (as is customary in most Japanese restaurants). She fills out the sheet of paper with the type of ice cream, size, cone/cup, etc., and then hands the paper to me.

Then, when it’s my turn to approach the counter, I hand the worker behind the counter my piece of paper. She repeats the order back to me to confirm it; then, the ice cream is made. This part is pretty much the same as in the US.

The menu is slightly modified as well; the seasonal special right now is “Green Tea Party”, which is a mix of fluffy yellow cake, green tea ice cream, and some cream. Really Japanese, if you ask me. I looked through the menu carefully and looks like there is no “Birthday Cake Remix,” which is my favorite one in the US. Well, that creation is very American, if you ask me: after all, what’s more All-American than a Birthday Cake? Japanese have birthday cakes, too, but they’re not the same as what Americans eat. Plus, their cakes are not as iconic I guess; I can say that “Green Tea Party” is the Japanese equivalent of the “Birthday Cake Remix”, albeit this creation is probably only available in the spring.

Oh yes, and the portions were smaller (as expected).

Now, my interesting story about Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Well, I was walking down the steps of LUMINE, on my way to Cold Stone for my ice cream; suddenly, I saw some young teenage girls running up the steps with Krispy Kreme boxes and bags, and I felt confused; I had thought that the Krispy Kreme store in Tachikawa was not set to open for another week! So, I felt like I needed to figure out what was going on.

It didn’t take me long to figure out this mystery–I walked outside briefly, and was bombarded with several Krispy Kreme workers shouting out “Free Krispy Kreme donuts!” and directing people to a long line. Well, actually, I wasn’t sure what the women were saying, but people around me were growing really excited and running to the line (!!), so I decided I would follow suit. Got into line, approached the front, and voila–they handed me a large bag with a box of donuts. At first I was skeptical of what exactly was in the box, but after I came home, I found that the box contained a dozen Original Glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. A DOZEN. The regular price for one dozen in Japan is roughly 1600 yen (around $16)!

It’s insane that they were giving out these boxes for free. And what amused me more was just watching the frenzy–why do Japanese love Krispy Kreme so much? When I tried the donuts out, I was expecting the flavor to be slightly altered, but no–these are THE Original Glazed donuts. All-American flavor. This discovery made me feel even more confused–I thought maybe Japanese did not like overly sweet things? I guess my assumption was wrong–I asked a few of my Japanese friends, and they couldn’t explain the phenomenon either. They did mention, however, that the Krispy Kreme store in Shinjuku is always packed–minimum 2-hour wait in line. All for American donuts!

I don’t think I will understand this for awhile; maybe I need to do a little more research. I’m still in shock over the free dozen of donuts….