Abe's Buns Are Being Trumped by Cookies in Japanese Souvenir Fight

  • Sales of political snacks boom in Japan’s parliamentary shop
  • Trump seen as promising character with chance of another snack

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being trumped by Trump - in the sweets department.

Packages of Daito’s snacks.

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Sales of "Lucky Trump" cookies, maple-flavored and featuring a cartoon image of President Donald Trump, initially outpaced those of bean-paste filled buns bearing Abe’s image, according to vendors who sell the items in the gift shop at Japan’s parliament building.

The Trump cookies show him playing cards with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a woman who looks like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with Abe standing behind.

"Trump cookies became a historic fad," said Mieko Satou, who works for the shop where lobbyists and political supporters are the main customers. When they started selling in January, the Trump cookies were outselling the Abe buns, she said. "However, recently, the fad is cooling down and Abe buns are making a comeback. They are competing quite well," Satou said.

Both products have sold about 5,000 boxes over the past three months, according to the maker, privately-held Daito Co. The Abe buns have sold about 780,000 boxes since 2006, when Abe took office for the first time.

The cookies play on the word ‘trump’ - which also means playing cards in Japanese.

Finance Minister Taro Aso, pictured with a machine gun, is the model for fried dough sweets called "Taro Capone," which satirize his penchant for dressing a bit like a gangster. And the handsome, potential prime minister Shinjiro Koizumi is the inspiration for pink, heart-shaped biscuits called "Little Shin Happy Chocolate."

"Lucky Trump" cookies.

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Sales of these products lag behind Trump cookies, according to Daito.

"With that fishiness and that expression, Trump is a promising character for the snacks," said Toshio Okubo, president of Daito. The Trump cookie was the first product to use a foreign head of a state as a model, and it had explosive sales, according to Okubo.

In the beginning, Okubo thought about using Chinese President Xi Jinping as one of the card players on the box. He decided not to out of fear China would retaliate with a lawsuit.

Trump cookies will end their run by the end of this month, giving control of the kingdom back to Abe buns. However, Okubo is hinting at another new snack with Trump as the model, so a new battle could break out in the shop in the basement of Japan’s parliament.

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