I distinctly remember saying last year that I wished that Mister Donut would get a pumpkin-flavored doughnut, and this year, my wish came true!
Mister Donut really went all out with the theme, too, offering six different varieties: three pumpkin-flavored versions of their old-fashioned (cake) doughnuts (ôrudo fasshon, オールドファッション) (plain, chocolate-dipped, and honey-dipped); a pumpkin custard-filled variety (panpukin kurîmu, パンプキンクリーマ); and two called “jack-o-lanterns” (jakku rantan, ジャックランタン) that appear to be puff pastry cut into jack-o-lantern shapes with pumpkin or strawberry glaze. I liked the pumpkin old-fashioned and the custard one best. The pumpkin flavor really comes through, and the alteration to the recipe made the often dry old-fashioned much moister.
The jack-o-lantern cookies seem to be in the family of Japanese “pie”: basically a pie crust or flat puff-pastry like Genji Pie, not an American-style apple pie. They’re okay but not great. The caloric information is about the same as their regular doughnuts.*
The tie-in with Universal Studios and Snoopy are of note. I haven’t been able to confirm how long this has been happening, but USJ and Tokyo Disney have both hosted Halloween events in the past. Also, Snoopy Halloween goods were offered as a point-card reward in 2005 at Baskin Robbins. I suspect that the US-based theme parks and character goods may have started Halloween goods in Japan on the marketing/consumer level, which dovetails nicely with the government’s emphasis on ESL, which includes Halloween lessons, and internationalization outreach from the JET Program participants (including the CIRs, of course).
Returning to the topic of doughnuts, Doughnut Plant** also has Halloween seasonal doughnuts this year. September/October’s seasonal doughnuts include pumpkin cake doughnut and pumpkin bun (a cinnamon-bun-style pastry), the latter of which I haven’t tried yet.
Doughnut Plant’s doughnuts are white cake with a flavored glaze on the outside, which means that they can easily experiment with new flavors without redoing the batter recipe. While the milk-tea varieties are for fall, the pumpkin ones specifically say that they are Halloween themed (ハロウィンをイメージした） as well as fall-themed.
As I noted last year, much of the Halloween buzz in Japan is food-related and is generally reserved for sweets, which makes sense, given the holiday’s emphasis on candy and sweets. Kabocha, of course, is a large part of Japan’s late summer and fall cuisine, and is available on the market much longer than orange pumpkins are in the US and Canada; in addition to being used in Japanese food, kabocha bread and other Western-style dishes are quite popular on Cookpad and in cookbooks. The appropriation of the jack-o-lantern for Halloween-themed sweets begs the questions of whether Japan will continue to associate “pumpkin”-flavored sweets with Halloween and if people know that pumpkins and kabocha aren’t the same thing. To add a note of linguistic interest, I’ve actually heard Japanese people at events and in stores refer to jack-o-lanterns as halloween before, too, further begging the question of what Halloween (the holiday and the word) means in Japan.
I’m rounding up Halloween display photos (food and otherwise) for a post on The Lobster Dance, so if you have any good ones, leave me a comment here or contact me via social media!
*Pumpkin old-fashioned: 257; pumpkin chocolate old-fashioned: 290; pumpkin honey old-fashioned: 311; pumpkin creme: 253; jack-o-lantern pumpkin: 250; strawberry jack-o-lantern: 249.
**Doughnut Plant’s Kanazawa location is on the second floor of Kanazawa Station. The company also has locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa and is based in New York City.
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baskin robbins has been doing things with snoopy since i came to japan in 1999 (and i suspect, before that), long before USJ ever opened. i hate snoopy/peanuts so i never really paid much attention to it. i think that having USJ opened probably got other places to run their merch.
i will have to find some halloween stuff to share! that will be fun! more and more places seem to be highlighting it. for example, AEON malls have lots of halloween decorations and events going on, and the sony plaza in tenjin (fukuoka) will give you a halloween themed gummy snack if you say ‘trick-or-treat’ to an employee.
Haha, I’ve never been a Snoppy fan either. Peanuts holiday specials were just strange to me as a kid. (Double for those weird claymation Xmas specials.) I was the worst kid to have in class around the holidays because the teachers were like “NOW LET’S WATCH A MOVIE YAY” and the other kids would be all happy, and I’m sitting there like “Can we get back to the French Revolution please?”
Yesterday I went to a thrift shop that offered discounts for people in costume next weekend. Definitely send me some photos (illmakeitmyself AT gmail DOT com).
Awesome post. I just had a pumpkin doughnut from Mister Donut this week. Hehehee. The teachers also are confusing kabocha and pumpkin too. They keep telling me that there is pumpkin in the stores, but I just see kabocha.
I have a Halloween party with my English club on Thursday. We are going to try to carve mini-pumpkins. Should be interesting……
I forgot about all the language issues that happen with ESL! When I did school visits, the flash cards for veggies had a picture of a kabocha (green skin) labeled pumpkin. A lot of people learn that a kabocha is a “pumpkin” instead of a squash, so there you go. If you tell kids that pumpkins are orange on the outside in America, it will blow their minds. ;) All the pumpkin foods I’ve seen so far are actually made with kabocha, for what it’s worth.
Good luck carving! I’m starting to think apples and turnips would be easier. T_T
I am so trying that pumpkin doughnut tonight!!
Those sneaky American companies…working with MR. Donuts and the JET CIRs. I am suspicious of these connections – I don’t doubt them for a second either…
Yes, the US government conspiracy to bring over Halloween via JET and USJ/Peanuts–actually kind of makes sense in the respect that Japan is a soft-culture exporter and the US wants to catch up to make Japanese kids love Halloween as much as American kids like anime.
….What did I just write?
Ah, this post is making me hungry! I love Mister Donuts, but I’ve never actually heard of Donut Plant before. What a funny name.
Speaking of the connections between ESL/cultural exchange and Halloween, the first community event I took part in when I was studying abroad in Japan was as a volunteer at a local high school for a Halloween party…
Doughnut Plant is from New York, and their main Japan store is in Tokyo. I’m not sure how Kanazawa got one rather than Osaka or Kobe, but we’ll take what we can get!
I think Halloween is an easy holiday to participate in since it lacks the religious aspect of other major holidays. All of us Americans all dressed up at my study abroad when I was there, and no one understood what we were doing!