What exactly is inside the yogurt-like snack in Japan, Morocco Fruit Yogul?

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OSAKA – Yogurt-tasting Japanese treats in mini-cups that you can lick in just a few spoons have been loved for 60 years. This Mainichi Shimbun reporter enjoyed the bittersweet taste by eating the yogurt-like content with a small wooden spoon. But now, as an adult, a question suddenly popped up to me. What exactly is this creamy substance? I visited “Maroc Fruit Yogul” candy maker Sanyo Confectionery Co. in this western Japanese city to find out.

The initial packaging of Morocco Fruit Yogul snacks from their first sale can be seen in this image courtesy of Sanyo Confectionery.

Morocco Fruit Yogul was first released in 1961 and developed by the grandfather of current Sanyo Confectionery President Mitsutaka Ikeda, 50. Back then, the main products were chocolate snacks like candy whiskey. But in the summer they could not be shipped because they were melting. As a refreshing alternative suitable for summer, yogurt-like cream candies were created. They come in what looks like yogurt pots, and a wooden spoon is attached. The name of the product comes in part from reference research which revealed that yogurt has been consumed for a long time in Morocco, but also because it is euphonic.

The boxes and lids of the yogurt pots feature illustrations of elephants. President Ikeda said that the design of the elephant expresses his grandfather’s wish that children grow up to be strong, kind and sturdy like an elephant.



Sanyo Confectionery President Mitsutaka Ikeda is seen in the Nishinari district of Osaka city on October 26, 2021. (Mainichi / Satoko Suizu)

Initially, sales were not good. The wholesalers they introduced it to didn’t even accept samples. After persistent attempts, a company finally accepted it and orders rose from there. Although Sanyo Confectionary initially only sold the yoghurt candies in the summer, she eventually stopped making whiskey candies to focus on making Morocco Fruit Yogul as a one-off product. Currently, it produces 60,000 to 70,000 treats a day.

Finally, we got to the main topic: what exactly is this cream? “Put simply, it’s something like buttercream made from vegetable fat,” Ikeda replied. I thought it was surprisingly normal after all. “Yogul” is made by mixing common ingredients like sugar, glucose, and acidifying agents into vegetable fats, and whisking it into the yogurt-like substance. The taste is unchanged from the original when it was first sold. Although the lids come in five colors, they have the same flavor.

When I told Ikeda that I like the flaky texture that stays in the aftertaste, he told me he “didn’t know until a customer told me”. It turns out that the yogurt treat is actually chewy immediately after being made. But over time, the sugar content crystallizes and develops a flaky texture. Ikeda was not aware of this as he only eats the product right after it is made.

Another fascinating aspect is the small wooden spoons that accompany the cups. As a child, I felt they were part of the taste of the treat.



A Maroc Fruit Yogul snack and an attached wooden spoon are seen in the Kita district of Osaka city on November 8, 2021. (Mainichi / Satoshi Hishida)

When I told Ikeda that it was as if the taste multiplied when eaten with the wooden spoon, he revealed that they are made from Hokkaido white birch trees. Since each snack costs only around 20 yen (around 20 cents), I asked about the costs of obtaining household wood. Apparently, the company uses wood from forest thinning as part of efforts to help the decline of the Japanese forest industry. By ordering the material in bulk, the company is able to overcome cost barriers.

The company also offers a product to meet the needs of those who want a little more. Since 1996, Sanyo Confectionery has been selling giant yogurts equivalent to over 11 full-size mini cups. The product is the result of fiery and persistent approaches from a customer, who apparently would typically buy 10 full-size to spread on toast. Despite initial doubts about profitability, giant yogurts are now a regularly sold product, and there are recipes online for how they can be used with bread, ice cream, and yogurt.

Although Sanyo Confectionery was founded in 1959, the family was making candies even before that date. “I heard that even after World War II, ingredients were collected by buying them on the black market, with the desire to deliver candy to children,” Ikeda said. The company continued to make children’s snacks, even as the founding family barely made ends meet.



Morocco Fruit Yogul snacks, the packaging of which is available in five colors, are seen in the Kita district of Osaka city on November 8, 2021. (Mainichi / Satoshi Hishida)

These values ​​have been transmitted to the present day. Dagashi candy stores selling inexpensive candies and other treats for young children, which are Sanyo Confectionery’s main customers, are in continuous decline. Morocco Fruit Yogul snacks are rarely stocked by major retailers due to their distinctive spoons and ‘lucky’ products which if you win you will get an extra one. Once there were rumors that production had been stopped.

Despite this, President Ikeda seemed happy when talking about children buying their products in candy stores. “The kids choose the snacks, calculate and pay for themselves. I would like our products to continue to be a part of such a great time.”

(Japanese original by Satoko Suizu, Osaka Editorial Production Center)


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