This Spicy Japanese Snack Wasn’t an April Fool’s Prank After All


This week was April Fools. Many Japanese companies – even the Japanese postal service – used the occasion to promote their products and services with fictitious counterparts. But rice cracker (senbei) manufacturer Kameda had a fun idea: what if we announce a gag product that actually exists?

Happy Turn’s turn to spice things up

Happy Turn from Kameda Seika
Happy Turn’s signature flavor comes from its “happy powder.” No, it’s not what you think. (Picture: Kameda Seika official Web site)

Kameda Seika is a snack manufacturer that’s been in business since after World War II in 1946. Based out of Niigata Prefecture, the company manufactures several snacks that have achieved the status of household names.

One of these is Happy Turn (ハッピーターン), a “sweet and salty” senbei cracker that gets its signature taste from the so-called “Happy Powder” that covers it. It’s basically a sugary coating that makes the cracker even more addictive than your average Japanese senbei.

To celebrate (?) April Fools, Kameda’s official Happy Turn account on X decided to fool the world into thinking they’d made an “ultra spicy” version of their product. They named the product Tsurataan, a play on the Japanese social media slang word, つらたん, a cute-ified version of tsurai, or “painful”.

The usual catch copy for Happy Turn is ついてるしあわせ (tsuiteru shiawase), which means “happy turn/happy luck” in Japanese. The new product’s slogan is, “Lucky? Hap…py?” Instead of “Happy Powder”, it comes with “Tsura Powder” (“Pain Powder”).

The joke was a hit, drawing 40,000 likes and over 10,000 retweets. As they did with the once-fictional Meiji Kinoko no Yama mushroom headphones, users flooded Kameda’s comments begging for the company to release this for realsies.

They really did it, folks (and I tried them)

The next day, the Happy Turn account had good news for the users who clamored for a spicy Happy Turn: the “April Fools” joke wasn’t a joke after all. Kameda chimed in the next day to announce, “The lie has become truth”, along with a picture of Tsurataan proudly displayed on a store shelf, anime shonen superhero-style.

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Some users excitedly posted pictures of Tsurataan packages they spotted in the wild. As a fan of both Happy Turn and extremely spicy food, I hit up my local grocery stores and combini to see if I could find it. It didn’t take long: our local Family Mart, which packs an impressive array of snacks in a small space, had them proudly on display. At only 120 yen (USD 79 cents), it was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

Tsuratan on a Family Mart shelf

The question I had was: exactly how spicy are these things? As someone who enjoys five-star Thai food, products marketed as “spicy” in Japan tend to leave me underwhelmed.

Just based on appearances, the Pain Powder did seem somewhat painful.

Yes, that is my wife’s Secret Wonderland Miu doll in the background.

The verdict? They’re not terribly spicy one by one. By the time you finish the bag, they build up a bit of heat. I imagine the sugar in the “Happy Powder” base coating cuts down the heat somewhat.

If you want a truly spicy treat, Kameda makes a far hotter one. They have a “super-spicy” wasabi version of their Kaki no Tane, a rice cracker/peanut snack often eaten when drinking. These have the opposite problem of the Tsurataan: – they’re soooo hot that I still have six bags left over from this six-bag pack, as I only eat them when I’m feeling peculiarly masochistic.

Kaki no Tane from Kameda

That said, I’d gladly eat the Tsurataan again. While they have a little less heat than I look for in a spicy snack, they’re delicious and hit the spot when I want a little treat with a bit of a kick.

…but these products were just for the LOLs

Other Japan April Fools products will probably stay “April Fools” gags, though. One of the more popular gags that made the daily news was this ad from Japan Post. JP’s express shipping self-service system is named “You-Pack”. Playing off of this, they created an ad for a “You-Pack” that’s an actual face mask. The mask is Japan Post red and even sports the national postal symbol as a cutout on the wearer’s forehead.

Japan Post You-Pack

Meanwhile, Ajinomoto, the popular maker of MSG, announced it would release a “gaming” version of its famous panda bottle that flashed like a gamer’s keyboard.

The gaming Ajinomoto may be a prank. However, the Gaming Cup Noodles are not – you can get those wherever you get your instant noodles in Japan. And hey, you can even sprinkle a little Ajinomoto on them if you want for the ultimate combination of caffeine, niacin, and umami.

Sources

亀田製菓. Wikipedia JP





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