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Hokkaido's 'Shiroi Koibito' cookie is Japan's best-known munch-able souvenir: survey

"Shiroi Koibito" cookies, a popular souvenir from Hokkaido. (Mainichi)

Hokkaido's "Shiroi Koibito" white chocolate sandwich cookies topped a nationwide survey for best-known edible souvenir, as well as the most purchased, it has been learned.

    The April 19-20 survey by marketing support firm Neo Marketing Inc. targeted men and women aged 20 and up nationwide, and gathered 1,000 responses. Some 87.1 percent of the respondents said they knew "Shiroi Koibito" (white lover), topping all other regional souvenirs. "Unagi Pie" (eel pie; fried piecrust with eel extract) from Shizuoka Prefecture ranked second at 73.7 percent, and "Hato Sable" (pigeon-shaped shortbread) from Kanagawa Prefecture came in a close third at 73.2 percent.

    When asked about which souvenirs were best-known by region, 87.1 percnet of respondents once again said they knew Shiroi Koibito among popular souvenirs from Hokkaido and Tohoku in northeastern Japan. It beat out two Miyagi Prefecture favorites, "zunda mochi" (rice cakes topped with sweetened mashed edamame) at 59.6 percent, and "Hagi no Tsuki" (custard-filled castella cake) at 48.8 percent. For southwestern Japan, variations on the Kyoto sweet "yatsuhashi" (thin cinnamon and sugar rice flour dough with various fillings) took first, fourth, and fifth places.

    Asked which souvenirs respondents had purchased before, Shiroi Koibito took first place again with 47 percent, unbaked yatsuhashi was second at 41.7 percent, and castella cake from Nagasaki placed third at 38.3 percent. While it ranked 11th in terms of name-recognition, "momiji manju" (small maple leaf-shaped cakes with various fillings) from Hiroshima Prefecture came in sixth for most purchased.

    The most surprising difference between name-recognition and actual purchases was the Unagi Pie, which was the second best known edible souvenir, but landed in eighth place in actual purchases behind favorites "Tokyo Banana" sweets and castella cake. Also, although it did not make into the best-known souvenir top 10, "Hiyoko" (chick-shaped sweets filled with a bean and egg yolk paste) which originate in Fukuoka Prefecture but are also a popular souvenir for the Tokyo area, ranked ninth in actual purchases.

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