Company, students team up on new snack

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kadosen Honten President Ryotaro Kako, right, and Aichi Gakuin University students hold packs of Kishimen Chips they jointly developed.
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kishimen Chips made from deep-fried kishimen noodles

NAGOYA — A long-established noodle company that has seen sales plummet during the pandemic turned to a group of university and high school students in Aichi Prefecture to help create a snack using its noodles.

The result was Kishimen Chips, a fried snack developed to pair well with alcohol and targeting at people staying home more due to the pandemic.

Nagoya-based Kadosen Honten came up with the snack in collaboration with students from Aichi Gakuin University in Nisshin, Aichi Commercial High School in Nagoya and Kasugai Commercial High School in Kasugai.

With tourism struggling, Kadosen Honten has seen sales halve of its wide and flat noodles, known as kishimen, that are mainly sold at souvenir shops. Company President Ryotaro Kako, who lectured on product development at the university, appealed to the students to help come up with something new.

Kako had considered deep-frying kishimen noodles for several years. “It’s easy to make a variety of flavors, and their crispiness is quite enjoyable,” he said.

He commissioned a confectionery maker in Shizuoka Prefecture for the production. Students of the two high schools happened to be sitting in on a meeting between Kako and the company, which is how they came to come on board. They were put in charge of deciding the flavors.

The student team devised dozens of flavor variations, such as a combination of shichimi (a Japanese spice blend) and mayonnaise, as well as maple.

Thinking how to strike a balance between flavors they wanted to see marketed and those that have already been popular, in the end they selected five flavors: salt, corn potage, miso, curry and shoyu.

Other companies in Aichi Prefecture helped with the development. Hatcho Miso of Okazaki city provided powdered miso, and Eikokuya, a Nagoya-based company that operates Indian restaurants and others, provided curry powders.

“People will have a hard time putting them down,” Kako said of the chips. A 60-gram pack is ¥300.

A sales promotion event planned by the students at a major supermarket store was canceled due to the pandemic, but since late April, the snacks have been sold directly at Kadosen Honten shops in Nagoya and the Kariya Highway Oasis in Kariya.

“It’s a great experience seeing products that we thought up make it into the hands of consumers,” said Dhae Hyunho, a 21-year-old fourth-year university student who was the leader of the development team.

Kako added, “I want the chips to be our ace in the hole in getting back on our feet.”