Maritozzo hits sweet spot in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Maritozzo filled with strawberry jam and cream from Lawson Store 100 is on the left, alongside a selection of maritozzi from Maritozzo Romano. They include, from left, pistachio, tiramisu and peach.

The display cases in Maritozzo Romano in the Azabu-Juban district in Minato Ward, Tokyo, contain a stunning 10 variations of the Italian cream-filled bun known as maritozzo. The specialty store, which opened in June, sells a crushed pistachio nut-dipped maritozzo for ¥600, and one with tiramisu for ¥650, which boasts a characteristically sweet and bitter taste.

Chefs from Italy supervised the creation of the varieties. The buns used for the Italian delight are also distinctive in that they contain orange peel and raisins.

“Some products contain seasonal fruits, too, so I hope visitors can enjoy the different tastes,” said a staff member of the publicity department for the company operating the shop.

Maritozzo, created in Rome, is basically a brioche stuffed with whipped cream and other ingredients and can be a breakfast option in Italy. The sweet first began making a buzz early this year in Japan via social media users, who praised its photogenic appearance. It is now readily available at convenience stores and supermarkets, with some new products drawing attention with specially arranged varieties.

In June, Lawson Store 100 started selling maritozzo with whipped chocolate cream for ¥108, which became a hit, with about 700,000 pieces sold over two months. In August, the convenience store chain began offering maritozzo filled with whipped cream and strawberry jam.

The 7-Eleven convenience store chain combined maritozzo with the traditional Japanese sweet dorayaki and began selling its “dorayaki maritozzo” for ¥224 in August. The pancake-like patties for dorayaki are used instead of brioche and are stuffed with whipped cream and sweet azuki bean paste.

Maritozzo came second in a survey of people’s favorite snacks that are richer than tea-time sweets but lighter than a meal, published in June by the Hot Pepper Gourmet Gaishoku Soken research institute.

“[They] look cute, and they’re pretty in photos,” said Mari Ariki, a senior researcher of the institute. “It’s basically a simple food with just a bun and cream. That makes it easier for shops to arrange several different flavors, which probably adds to the popularity.”