Shokugan（食玩） is short for shokuhin gangu（食品玩具）,which means food and toy in the order, and it’s a general term of confectionery with toys. In the course I took last week, it was the topic I chose.
Why did I choose it as a topic? I happened to visit a supermarket in a town called Kiyosu last Sunday and saw some such kind of confectionery sold near the checkout counters. All of the toys were bigger than the candies. Because it interested me, I studied about “shokugan” after coming back home.
In the early years of the market in Japan, Glico, the caramel, sold by a confectionery company named Ezaki Glico, is the symbol of “shokugan”. The market as of 2004 has been up to billions yen.
After Glico caramel went on the market in 1927, for 45 years, in “shokugan”, the confectionery had been main thing and the toys additional. In 1972, however, Kamen Rider Snack’s big hit changed the relationship of master and servant. In the end, many kids threw away the snacks without eating after getting the toys. That situation became a big issue. After that, the same phenomenon often happens.
In 1999, Furuta Seika, the confectionery company, started selling egg-shaped chocolates named Choco Egg, whose toys were plastic miniatures of animals. Not only kids but also many adults bought the chocolates to collect the miniatures. It became a big social phenomenon. And the big hit made the “shokugan” market expand, the quality be better and consumers’ age raise. It affected the industries of food and toys very much. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%A3%9F%E7%8E%A9
According to a report of a survey on “shokugan” by DIMSDRIVE, the net research company http://www/dims.ne.jp/timelyresearch, over 60 % people have every bought the confectionery.
In December, 2005, about 10 % of people in their 20’s and 30’s are collecting something of “shokugan”. It seems to be a characteristic of Japanese phenomenon that adult people buy such things. Japanese people may be able to keep the feelings of kids after becoming adult, or may not be able to be mature even after becoming adult…
Most of “shokugan” is around 200 or 300 yen. But sometimes some of them are sold over 10000yen on the Internet auctions. “Shokugan” has become a speculative target recently. It has been getting to have nothing to do with candies. But as long as the “shokugan” is a kind of confectionery, they can be sold at the food corner and the food and toys companies can keep the market.
Japanese “shokugan” is culture? Or only a proof that Japanese society is immature?