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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Updated on Nov 22nd, 2022
Fact checked by Emma Vince

ICHIGO 2023: Green Tea Kit Kats?

We chat with Tanner Schroeder, Marketing Associate for Ichigo Inc., and learn about the Japanese snack boxes that this Tokyo subscription-based company ships worldwide.

When was TokyoTreat launched and what was the inspiration behind its creation?

TokyoTreat was launched in April 2015. It all started with my boss packing snack boxes on his living room floor and has grown from there. There was a desire for people to experience Japanese snacks, especially those from popular western brands that the western world would be familiar with, such as Japanese Kit Kats, which are inaccessible elsewhere in the world. 

We saw the opportunity to share this part of Japanese food culture with the rest of the world. 

The inspiration behind TokyoTreat and our sister brands is to bring something normal, common, and part of everyday life in Japan, to your door. 

How does TokyoTreat work?

TokyoTreat is our flagship product. It focuses on what we call “pop snacks”, which are more popular and accessible to the western audience. 

TokyoTreat is a monthly subscription model and we also offer gift plans. Our team is both international and local. Every month, our curation staff goes out and finds new snacks that will fit a different theme that we feel our audience will resonate with. Our subscribers can choose to sign up for however long they desire, and we organize the boxes and ship the products directly to their door.

We recently launched Sakuraco, which is in the same vein as TokyoTreat except that it focuses on Wagashi, which are traditional, artisanal Japanese snacks that have deeper roots in Japanese history and culture. 

Who is your target market?

Our target market is mainly the English-speaking western world. The US is our biggest market, but we ship to pretty much everywhere in the world, except Japan itself.

How do Japanese treats and snacks vary from western snacks in terms of ingredients and flavor?

The notion of seasonality is very important in Japan and it’s very much part of Japanese culture to appreciate the moment. There’s a lot of beauty that comes with each season and this bleeds over into daily life. Even snacks like Kit Kats are seasonal. In the fall you may have sweet potato snacks whereas, in summer, the snack flavors will be pineapple or mango, for example. 

We really focus on this aspect of flavors which are only available for a limited time as most of the snacks are only available for a limited time – even in Japan. We try to share this with the rest of the world. 

Japanese snacks are also definitely more textured. The flavors are obviously very different from western snacks, for example, green tea Kit Kat, fried chicken Pringles, or Miso Ramen Pringles, squid flavored crackers, etc...

Do Japanese snacks and treats differ from other Asian snacks or are there some similarities?

I would say Korean snacks share some similarities with Japanese snacks but China is a completely different market. In my experience, Japan has a very unique identity, especially when it comes to food. 

Would you say that the Japanese are health conscious when it comes to snacks?

Absolutely. Japan is consistently at the top when it comes to life expectancy in the world. I think that nutrition and health are embedded in Japanese culture. 

In general, I would say that Japanese snacks are definitely far healthier than most western snacks. Seaweed or seafood-based snacks are obviously much healthier, and lower in carbs and sugar than fried potato chips. 

What’s your view on sugar?

Everything in moderation! Every once in a while it’s fun to have a treat. The name TokyoTreat kind of speaks for itself.

Are there any treats you supply that carry particular historic or traditional values? 

This leans more towards our sister brand Sakuraco. This brand carries produce that’s very much a part of traditional Japanese culture, often sourcing from small, family-owned businesses that have been running for over a hundred years. For example, we carry Taiyaki, a small confectionery, that has a deep cultural significance in the south of Japan. TokyoTreat is more “pop” and mainstream. 

What’s your marketing strategy and what’s next for ICHIGO?

Since its conception, the TokyoTreat brand has spoken for itself. Building a community has been a huge part of the business. We like to think that when our customers are subscribing to TokyoTreat, they’re not just paying to get the snack box, but they’re also joining a community. We have forums, snack exchanges, reviews on YouTube, etc…

The recent launch of Sakuraco in February has been a huge success and we are delighted with the results so far. We plan to continue to build our customer base and showcase our fantastic Japanese snacks to even more people.

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