The hardest part of researching and blogging about Japanese food trends from the US is not being able to eat them! Today we have a guest post about Krispy Kreme’s HARU! Doughnuts by Alice of Super Happy Awesome. You may have seen her posts on seasonal foods, especially Starbucks’, linked on the social media for I’ll Make It Myself! (see side bar). All images are by Alice.
By the way, if you ever have a tip about interesting seasonal food or observe new food trends or food localization in Japan, especially if it’s related to imported holidays like Halloween or national cultural events like sakura, leave me a comment on contact me on social media!
Spring has sprung in Tokyo! The cherry blossoms have just burst forth and brought with them waves of celebration, frivolity, and carefully branded marketing opportunities. Every company with something tasty to sell has stuck a cherry blossom on or in their product. American companies in Japan are no exception, and have embraced this trend full throttle. From the Strawberry Sakura Latte at Starbucks to the Sakura Fizz Float at McDonald’s, the cherry blossom has truly been embraced by the fast food industry, and American import Krispy Kreme is no exception to the rule.
I went to High School in North Carolina, so it still amuses me to see this North Carolina mainstay as a symbol of foreign luxury. I can assure you that I certainly never had a cherry blossom flavored donut when the “Hot Light” went on in Raleigh, or a green tea donut for that matter. I can now check those off on my list!
The cherry blossom donut was a part of the recent HARU or Spring line at KK. It included a Sakura custard filled donut, a chocolate ring donut with green tea glaze and a ring donut with Kinako and Kuromitsu, or roasted soy bean powder and brown sugar syrup.
It was hard to decide a favorite between the Sakura and the Kinako. The Sakura flavoring was strong in the custard and this was definitely the prettiest of the bunch. The Kinako was nutty and just a little bit crunchy, and balanced well with the mellow brown sugar flavor. I love both flavors generally, and thought that the donuts did a great job of showcasing these very Japanese flavors.
The green tea was my least favorite of the bunch, and I think Streamer Coffee in Shibuya does a much nicer job of marrying green tea and chocolate with their Camouflage Donuts. Still, it definitely rounded out the intense “Japaneseness” of this line.
There were also two drinks, a Sakura Chiller milkshake type drink and a Sakura Tea Latte. The milkshake wasn’t sufficiently sakura flavored for my tastes, but the floral flavor came through better after I’d finished the donuts and drank it on its own. The tea latte was nice, with a black tea base and a good sakura flavor.
I love seeing American companies embracing their new homes, and Sakura Season is the perfect time to shine with Japanese flavors. It was smart of Krispy Kreme to do these donuts, which were not only visually appealing by tasty as well. Broadening the line to include not just the floral flavors but a few other classic Japanese flavors as well was really clever, and shows a smart localization approach. Though the lines have diminished somewhat since their first branch opened to 3 hour queues in Shinjuku, I think that moves like this show a strong commitment to sticking it out in the fad-driven, ever-changing landscape that is the Japanese fast food market.