Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Jumbo Mini

"We provide a firstclass taste brought directly from the earth" claims my pastry. It makes me wonder if one of the ingredients might be, oh, dirt.

The characters "ミニ" mean "mini" in English. If you look at the picture of an apple custard ring pastry above, you'll see those characters in a white circle on the label. This particular pastry cost only 149 yen ($1.40) and was sold in the section reserved for individual serving size pastries. I put a ballpoint pen next to it for size comparison. There is really nothing about this pastry that I'd say feels mini-sized. In fact, for someone who eats large portions, there are easily two servings. For me, there are three healthy servings or four smallish ones.

One of the oddest things in Japan is that some of the pastries sold in convenience stores and supermarkets for between 100-200 yen ($1-1.80) are labeled as "mini" and they are freaking huge. I've been here a long time and this is something which remains a mystery to me. Are they "mini" in that they are supposed to serve an entire family and would be considered small for that purpose? Is it ironic labeling? Does the word "mini" carry some other notion in katakana which I've not been made aware of? Or are Japanese portions only small when they aren't about pastries?

When searching for an explanation, I came across "ミニ" as it refers to British-made small cars and all things small. Perhaps the pastries are meant to be consumed in small British cars, or are as large as one of them. If anyone has some insight into why these large sweets are often labeled as "mini", I'd love to hear it.

8 comments:

ThePenguin said...

"Brought directly from the earth"? Possibly this is a product aimed at the interplanetary export market? Presumably if the intended recipients are larger than your average Earthling, it might truly be "ミニ" for them.

Both the Japanese dictionaries I have at hand suggest "ミニスカート" as an alternative meaning, though I fear that makes even less sense.

Anyway, was the custar tasty?

mike said...

It is probably to give the consumer the impression that it is smaller than it actually is, so they consume without guilt. It's like the mentality ... they're small, so I'll have two!

We have pastries such as this (like what comes out of the vending machines at work), but I have never seen them labeled as "mini". In fact, it seems US manufacturers go out of the way to market their pastries as "jumbo" so the consumer can be sure they are getting more than their money's worth.

While I do like these kind of pastries, they are usually filled with strange chemicals and non-good-for-you things and lots and lots of calories. It is best to avoid them, but I usually cannot. Thankfully, I don't eat like I used to so I have not had any since I got sick!

No wonder I lost 80 pounds... :)

Fuji Mama said...

I love the theory that they should be consumed in small British cars! Japan is the King of misnommers, isn't it?

tornados28 said...

It is odd seeing as food portion sizes in Japan a really small when compared to the United States.

Shari said...

penguin: I did see the reference to mini-skirts as well, but mini-skirts and jumbo pastries don't mix. ;-)

It actually wasn't very good. When I posted it, I hadn't sampled it yet. It's just very much low quality bread with little apple or custard. I guess you don't get much for such a low price on such a big item!

Mike: There are actually other pastries which are huge which say "mini". I'd ask students about this but they probably wouldn't know (or would be confused without a reference pastry).

As for the size, I had to freeze the rest, though I can't say I'm looking forward to it or anything. ;-)

Fuji Mama: It would be funny if in some warped way it actually did relate to small British cars. That'd be the icing on the cake of the goofiness factor of it all!

tornados28: Food portions generally are small, but these sorts of things are oddly huge. Also, it seems that, when it comes to donuts, you can sometimes see tiny Japanese women consuming Homeresque quantities of them. It's a strange blip on the portion radar!

Thanks to all for commenting.

mike said...

One would expect tiny British cars to be popular in crowded Tokyo. Perhaps the extra-large "mini" pastry is to help people feel better about their other small items. Innuendo unintentional, but it is there... LOL!

Sherry said...

I'm not sure if it is the same brand, but I have seen a pastry like this only it was much bigger, like round, double layer cake size. Compared to that this one is "mini" I guess. Not sure about the other mysterious mini-pastries you have seen.

Anonymous said...

They call it "mini", because they have larger "regular" size Apple Ring.

Check their page about their products.
http://www.daiichipan.co.jp/popular/check.php?category=8