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Talk of the Day -- Chocolate frenzy

Talk of the Day -- Chocolate frenzy

Once every few years, a product appears in Taiwan, seeming so appealing that people wait in long lines like the ones outside Apple stores when a new iPhone is released. This time it is a hitherto unknown brand of Japanese chocolate cookie much like KitKat. For some unknown reason, people in Taiwan are so eager to lay their hands on the candy, the country has become the product's biggest overseas market almost overnight. The following are excerpts of major local newspapers' reports on the phenomenon: China Times: Retailers believe that just like the egg tart fever 20 years ago, the frenzy over "Thunder" chocolate cookies is likely to die down in a few months. But until that happens, three hypermarkets, including Carrefour, and Family Mart, Taiwan's second largest convenient store chain, are importing the candy to meet surging demand. Until recently, only 7-Eleven stores carried the candy but demand has grown to such an extent that some people are literally running from store to store to find it. Some consumers are even taking the time to find out when the supply truck will arrive and then lining up to buy the chocolate candy as soon the cartons are opened. Travelers to Japan need not think twice about what gifts to bring back to Taiwan. There are people who are going to Japan just to purchase the candy and re-sell it on the Internet when they return. Despite its competitive price -- NT$15 (US$0.50) per packet -- the chocolate candy gained only a lukewarm response when 7-Eleven, by far Taiwan's largest convenient store chain, first imported two varieties of the product -- original and peanut flavors -- in 2011. Things took a dramatic turn after September 2013, when 7-Eleven began to import a new variety priced at NT$25. Facebook posts and messages via LINE -- a widely popular instant messaging service in Taiwan -- went abuzz with praises for the candy. Internet postings since then basically have fallen into two categories -- praises for the candy as out-of-this-world delicious and complaints about how difficult it is to obtain. There have been some suspicions that people may have been paid to write positive reviews on the Internet but the government's Fair Trade Commission has not intervened so far. 7-Eleven said it has sold 3 million packets of the new variety since September and that sales of the original variety have doubled. The latest import of 200,000 packets in late February was sold out in two days. As hot as sales are at the moment, however, some hypermarket executives have predicted that the Thunder fad will last no longer than summer, as chocolate tends to soften in higher temperatures and thus lose some of its appeal. United Daily News: Japanese and Taiwanese interviewed by this reporter in Tokyo have all scratched their heads in puzzlement as to why Thunder chocolate cookies have become so popular in Taiwan. The product's only competitive edge appears to be its retail price, which is the equivalent of NT$10 per packet in Japan, compared with an average NT$130 for other brands. Many passers-by interviewed in Tokyo said apologetically that they were not even aware of Thunder's existence. "A friend in Taiwan asked me to bring back some. I have no idea what it's like so I'm going to try it myself," said a Taiwanese national living in Japan.


Updated : 2021-02-26 13:14 GMT+08:00