The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

October 03, 2007

Japanese package design never ceases to amaze me

japanese wrappers They always seem to have this slightly manic quality, as if it were necessary to adapt their wrappers to the hectic lifestyle. And there's an inherent childishness, as if it were necessary to compensate for the hectic lifestyle.

That said, I must admit that I know next to nothing about the Japanese lifestyle other than the clichés from books, magazines, TV and movies. Which, if they are as truthful about Japan as they are non-truthful about Finland, are hardly to be trusted.

Finland, for example, is not stuck in the permanent 1950s as it is in Aki Kaurismäki movies. The people in Finland are friendly and very talkative. In five days in Helsinki I have not seen one man wearing a moustache in the style of Matti Pellonpää, and, something that never appears in a Finnish film and nobody, not even a tourist brochure, ever tells you or warns you about, Finnish bicyclists speed like hell on pedestrian sidewalks.

Incidentally, the things in these wrappers were artificially flavoured, heavily sugared, mildly salted, MSG-laden crispy snack rolls made of something that was most likely corn starch, but could also have been foamy cardboard or, for all I know, polyfilla. Quite tasty really, probably thanks to the MSG. I suppose the little guy with the turban on the orange wrapper is saying something like "MSG rules!", and the chicken pictured above him certainly looks as if it has overdosed on MSG. Tastewise, the snack roll in the yellow wrapper was supposed to taste like teriyaki sauce, the one in the orange wrapper was chicken curry flavour, and the one in the blue wrapper was schnitzel sauce flavour.

"Schnitzel sauce flavour?" you might ask. "But schnitzels aren't eaten with sauce," you might say. Indeed they aren't. Still, the label on the blue wrapper seems to imply that the Japanese do eat their schnitzels with sauce:

schnitzelsauce label

Anyway, I should probably try to get my hand on some Japanese schnitzel sauce and try it with schnitzel because the blue one was the tastiest of the three. The teriyaki one was vile, despite all the MSG.

Posted by Horst on October 3, 2007 06:53 PM to creatures great & small | Tell-a-friend
nora said on October 5, 2007 04:58 PM:

i'd ask ayumi about the schnitzelsauce. she also has lovely macha-smoothies in her teashop. chanoma tea, faulmanngasse 7, 1040 vienna.

Horst said on October 6, 2007 01:34 AM:

She is most likely the person who did the translation on the label.

Jann said on October 6, 2007 07:42 PM:

We sell yogurt here in the states that comes packaged in tubes that look very similar to the wrappers in your pictures. Tubes - you see - you don't need a spoon; you squeeze the yogurt directly into your nouth. The tubes are vividly colored with cartoon characters all over them. "Scooby-Doo!, RoGurt, portable yogurt, All New! Mysteries on every tube!" (Yes it does say "RoGurt"). I was curious, so I bought some of this stuff, ate some of it too - very smooth and pleasantly artificially flavored. Not much like yogurt, but I can see why kids like it.

Also I browsed through your newly revised music section, and ordered from Amazon John Coltrane's "The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings," which you have described as "sublime:" I expect I will enjoy this.

nora said on October 10, 2007 05:37 AM:

i think those are some generic translations made in germany. i can't imgine ayumi using the word "knabbergebaeckroellchen".

Jann said on October 11, 2007 07:08 PM:

I asked my Japanese colleague what the English translation from these wrappers would be. She didn't think the Japanese made much sense, but "stick crackers" was what she finally came up with. I have no idea if that's any better than Knabbergebäckröllchen.

Horst said on October 11, 2007 10:45 PM:

Ayumi's shop is the exclusive importer for these strange snacks for Austria. It says so on the label. That's why I thought someone in her shop must have made those labels.

"Knabbergebäckröllchen" may be a strange word, but there are laws and regulations what these things must be called on official labels. Like alcohol-free beer couldn't be called "beer" until a few years ago. Maybe that's just what happened here.

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