Cute Food Is Better Food
In the land of kawaii, it isn’t only small children’s products or cheap character-emblazoned goods that are designed to look cute or happy. The phenomenon stretches across myriad categories.
But the one category which never fails to amuse me is Cute Food
A typical example is the range of bread products found at bakeries. Wandering past a bakery in Shinjuku Station recently, these bears and bunnies caught my eye:
Other cute breads include Kamepan (Turtle Bread):
And of course Hello Kitty bread:
But by far the cutest food of all is the incredible range of designs found in bentos (lunchboxes). For the most part, these are created by mothers for their young children to take to school. Mothers have been known to spend literally hours each day attempting to make their child’s bento as cute as is humanly possible.
This serves not only to make food which the child might not otherwise eat palatable, but of course provokes shrieks of delight from the kids when they peel back the lids at lunchtime. “Kawaii! Kawaiiiiii!” they squeal in unison. Lovely moments indeed.
The children naturally report back to their mothers at the end of the day what their friends brought to school, and I have been told that this often generates more than a little friendly rivalry behind the scenes as mothers try to outdo each other in bento cuteness.
The internet is full of instructions shared by creative food designers on how to make cute bentos. Click here for example to learn how to make this lovely caterpillar:
Or click here for instructions on how to make a panda!
A range of products to help in the process can be found everywhere from department stores to 100 yen discount shops. Soy sauce bottles in cute animal shapes. Small plastic smiling things. Happy face templates for sprinkles of furikake (rice seasoning).
It’s a bonanza for the manufacturers and it’s delightful for the children. Everybody wins.
Except perhaps those poor mothers joining the frenzy simply to avoid the possibility of their childeren’s lunchtime humiliation or hunger were they to reveal a plain, unadorned, simple and modest bento which didn’t match up to those of their friends.
this is only the tip of the iceberg
Web resources on Japanese cute bento food are plentiful. For a small taste of the staggering variety of designs that exist, see what google shows.
Or simply enjoy a few more images of the incredible food creativity that delighted children all over Japan discover and eat every day…