Sakuma’s Drops candy will be discontinued as its Tokyo-based maker Sakuma Seika Co. goes out of business due to poor sales.
With eight fruit flavors available, the iconic, colorful hard candies are encased in a familiar tin box beloved by many.
Established by Sojiro Sakuma in 1908, the candy was produced during World War II. Although the company’s factory was destroyed in a bombing raid during the war, the company made a quick return in 1945.
The 114-year-old candy has been consumed for generations, even making a notable appearance in Studio Ghibli’s 1988 film “Grave of the Fireflies.” Set during WWII, the movie features a boy named Seita trying to survive the war with his younger sister, who grips onto one of their few possessions: a red can of Sakuma’s Drops. For the pair, the candies act as a symbol of hope in the midst of despair.
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Despite inflation through the years, Sakuma Seika Co refused to raise the price of Sakuma’s Drops out of fear of losing customers, following fellow Japanese companies in their hesitancy. Production costs and a labor shortage led to Sakuma Seika Co. suffering a net loss of over 150 million yen (approximately $1 million) in 2021, Tokyo Shoko Research reports. These factors reportedly led to the company’s closure, announced on Wednesday. When asked about the discontinuation of Sakuma’s Drops, Hiroshi Matsuzawa, a Tokyo snack store owner, pointed to the various new products that are available to younger generations, Reuters reported. Although the candy remains popular with older generations, the same cannot be said for children.
His sentiment was echoed by Teruyo Ishiguro, who stopped carrying Sakuma’s Drops at her mom-and-pop dagashiya store, a snack and candy store popular with children. “It’s very sad to see something disappear that’s been around for so long,” she told the news service.
However, fans of the candy can turn to “Sakuma Drops,” a similar product packaged in a green tin produced by rival candy maker Sakuma Confectionary Co.
“As a competitor, we feel sad,” the rival company’s spokesperson told Reuters in response to Sakuma Seika Co.’s departure. “But perhaps we tried harder to try new ways, a new product line-up.”
Sakuma Seika Co will officially cease operations on Jan. 20, 2023.