Morinaga Milk Caramel appeared on the market in 1913. This long selling candy has continued to be adored by the Japanese people for nearly a century. Fond childhood memories will surely come to mind to anyone that eats a piece of Morinaga Milk Caramel.
In Japan, the first person to make caramel was Taichiro Morinaga, the founder of Morinaga Confectionery. Taichiro had studied the confectionery art in America. In 1899, Taichiro began making caramel for foreigners living in the Yokohama Foreign Settlement and for Japanese returning home from abroad. It is said that the caramel at that time was rich in flavor with a soft texture because of the large amounts of butter and milk that were used.
Soon after, Taichiro embarked on creating a caramel that would be more suited to the Japanese taste. Taichiro made improvements in the caramel by reducing the amounts of milk and butter used and by making the caramel smaller and a little harder.
When this improved type of caramel was packaged in a small portable box and put on sale at the Taisho Exposition held at Ueno Park in 1914, it proved to be a big hit. Full-scale sales were soon started.
How people originally viewed milk caramel around this time is considerably different from how it is viewed nowadays. It was considered to be a high-class, nutritionally-rich confection ideal for use as a souvenir or present.
There is also a novel poster from that time in which a gentleman is shown to be throwing away his cigarette while holding onto a piece of milk caramel and commenting, “If I can have only one heavenly gift, I’ll choose milk caramel.” Later, a copy with the comment “A substitute for tobacco” was also published.
That is, the milk caramel at that time was a premium confection for adults to be enjoyed by gentlemen and ladies alike. It is a surprise that some people would use milk caramel as a means to stop smoking.
Moreover, there are records showing that milk caramel was supplied to the army for use as an energy supplement for the troops. It is relatively recent that milk caramel has become a children’s candy. Before that, it was a candy for adults.