TOKYO — A candy loved by generations of Japanese consumers is reaching the end of the line, a victim of inflation and a declining population.
Sakuma’s Drops, the fruit-flavored hard candy in the iconic tin, has been a favorite for 114 years, but will cease production on Jan. 20 next year, the maker announced Wednesday.
Tokyo-based Sakumaseika Co. has cited a slew of factors in the decision, including surging costs of materials and production, a shortage of labor and a decline in sales exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The news has been met with sadness across Japan.
“We always had a can at home when I was in grade school,” Naoe Watanabe told Reuters. The 53-year-old candy store owner remembered how he used to use a 10-yen coin to pop open the lid of the candy tin.
“It feels like a sign of the times. There are so many choices now, compared to when I was a kid,” he said.
The candy has been so commonplace in Japanese life that it even appeared in the classic 1988 animated film “Grave of the Fireflies” (Hotaru no Haka) from Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli.
The popularity of the movie led to a limited-edition can as it appeared in the film.
Sojiro Sakuma founded the company in 1908, and continued production amid air raids during World War II, prompting the filmmakers to include the sweets as a powerful symbol of survival in the story.
The company reportedly lost 151 million yen ($1.03 million) in the fiscal year that ended September 2021. Japanese companies are often reticent to raise prices out of fear of losing customers.