Anyone who has watched the 1988 anime film, Grave of the Fireflies by Studio Ghibli, which is a journey of two orphaned siblings who struggle to survive after World War II bombing, would recognise the red tin that was featured in the movie as one of the sibling’s possessions that was left after their house was destroyed.
This red tin which plays a key role in the film is nothing but the iconic Japanese candy, Sakuma’s Drops, which was created by Tokyo-based candy company, Sakumaseika.
Now the heart-dropping news here?
The company will stop producing its candies starting 20 January next year.
The 114-year-old candy company had tried hard not to raise the price of its bestselling Sakuma’s Drops even though it faced rising production costs, a labour shortage and a drop in sales.
However, COVID-19, which has wreaked havoc on many businesses, had not spared the century-old Sakumaseika as it recorded a net loss of more than 151 million yen (S$1.4 million) in the fiscal year that ended September 2021, according to credit survey firm Tokyo Shoko Research, which first reported the company’s closure on Wednesday.
Netizens Express Their Distress Regarding This on Twitter
If someone said to Singaporeans that bubble tea is no longer being sold, imagine the inexplicable pain that would arise among us.
That’s what the Japanese are facing right now as Sakuma’s Drops have been an integral part of their lives.
Netizens took it to Twitter to mourn the loss of the candy that has remained popular through generations and share fond memories of it from their childhood.
“When I was a kid, Sakuma’s Drops was something I longed for,” reminisced one Twitter user in Japanese. “It took a long time for me to buy it, and I vividly remember the smell when I finally picked it up and opened the round lid.”
“We always had a can at home when I was in grade school,” said 53-year-old sweets-shop owner Naoe Watanabe, remembering how he used to use a 10-yen coin to pop open the lid of the treat—a staple in corner candy shops for 114 years.
“It feels like a sign of the times. There are so many choices now, compared to when I was a kid,” he said.
If you are unaware, there are eight flavors of candy in the tin including strawberry and lemon. And of course, there always has to be the one flavor that ruins taste buds.
For Sakuma’s drops, it was the peppermint flavor. Many netizens recalled either being scolded by their parents for ignoring this flavor or ending up with a collection of peppermint in the red tin.
Some also referenced the tragic Grave of the Fireflies animation, which had once been featured in special packaging by Sakumaseika.
One user remarked, “Seeing this reminds me of Grave of the Fireflies and makes me cry!”
In tribute, Studio Ghibli posted a photo of the iconic red tin on Twitter on Wednesday, causing more distress to the public.
— スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI (@JP_GHIBLI) November 9, 2022
A Similar Alternative?
Well if it brings any consolation to the Japanese, there is another Sakuma’s Drops.
Rival company, Sakuma Confectionery Co., which branched off from Sakumaseika post-war will continue to produce its own Sakuma’s Drops that comes in a green instead of red tin.
“As a competitor, we feel sad about Sakumaseika’s exit,” said a Sakuma Confectionery spokesperson. “But perhaps we tried harder to try new ways, a new product line-up.”
Even though they produce similar alternatives, the inevitable truth is that nothing can truly replace the original.
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