Your delicious dream has come true! In 2015, the makers of Hi-Chew are opening a factory in the United States!
Manufacturer Morinaga first introduced the product to the American market in 2008, but sales were low in the beginning. Unless you were shopping at a Japanese (or other Asian specialty) market, chances were low that you would find the candy on shelves or at the checkout aisle. All that changed, however, with the arrival of professional relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa on the Boston Red Sox.
When Tazawa first joined the Red Sox team, one of his hazing duties included keeping the team’s bullpen stocked with chewing gum. The Yokohama native added in a few packs of Hi-Chew from his personal stash, and that changed the fate of Hi-Chew forever. Hi-Chew proved to be extremely popular with his American teammates, and Tazawa had to scour local Asian markets to keep up with the demand!
With the local markets’ shelves empty, Tazawa reached out directly to Morinaga, asking if the company could supply the Red Sox with Hi-Chew. Morinaga started doing so in 2012, and is now an official sponsor of the team. There are Hi-Chew ads in Fenway Park and samples are even given out to visiting fans! This extra publicity doubled Hi-Chew’s sales in the U.S. in 2013, and 2014 performed even better. With a distribution deal now in place with retailer Safeway and its 1,200 branches, Morinaga has decided to transition away from shipping Hi-Chew all the way from its factory in Taiwan, and 2015 will see the opening of a dedicated Hi-Chew factory in North Carolina.
In a way, this kind of internationalism is fitting for Morinaga, whose original founder, Tachiro Morinaga, travelled to America to study confectionary-making at the end of the 19th century. It’s a proud day for the company, and a happy one for Hi-Chew’s growing number of American fans.
Read more here.