Company behind Cup Noodle creates a bit of culinary camouflage to keep your meal from being the topic of unwanted conversations.

Japan has a long history of extremely realistic-looking plastic food models. The concept is tied to Japanese foodies’ belief that food should be a treat not just for the taste buds, but for the eyes as well, and so a skillfully made model is a great way to entice customers to eat at your restaurant or buy your product.

We really can’t stress how convincing the models are. For example, look at this onigiri (rice ball) model from Nissin, which looks exactly like the real ones sold at convenience stores and supermarkets across Japan. Doesn’t it make you want to run out and buy a Nissin rice ball?

The thing is, though, Nissin doesn’t make rice balls. They’re the company behind the Cup Noodle brand, and they specialize in instant noodles and soups. So why did they make a plastic rice ball model?

To get your coworkers to shut up.

Nissin calls the item the Onigiri, but rather than writing it in Japanese as おんぎり, with お signifying respect to the rice, it’s instead written as 置にぎり. 置 means “put” or “place,” and you’re supposed to put the model on your desk or lunchroom table to prevent coworkers from commenting on how much you are, or rather aren’t, eating by making your meal look bigger than it actually is, sparing you from comments and personal questions like:
● “Is that all you’re eating for lunch?”
● “Are you doing a low-carb diet or something?”
● “You should eat more!”

Basically, if you’d rather not have the topic of conversation veer towards your weight-loss ambitions (as well as others’ opinions as to their necessity or chance of success) or your after-work private-life dining or drinking plans that you’re saving room for, Nissin wants to help. Just put the Onigiri next to the rest of your meal to create the illusion.

▼ The Onigiri accompanying a cup of Nissin’s low-calorie tofu soup and a healthy green salad.

Two other ways to use the Onigiri also spring to mind. First, instant noodles and soup usually cook best if you keep their thin, flexiblelids closed after pouring in the hot water, and it looks like the Onigiri would make a pretty handy lid-weight. What’s potentially even better, though is that you might be able to use the Onigiri to help make sure you get your full one-hour lunch break if you’re eating in the office.

Eating at your desk can be a tempting way to try to give yourself a little extra time to relax in the middle of your workday, since it saves you the time of having to go out to lunch. The danger, though, is that if that extra time means you’ve finished eating early and a boss, manager, or needy coworker spots you sitting at your desk, they may try to rope you into doing some work before your break time is actually up. By keeping the Onigiri in sight, you’ll look like you’re not actually done with your meal yet, making people more likely to leave you alone.

The Onigiri isn’t being offered for direct sale, but Nissin is making 100 of them available for free through an Internet drawing. Applications can be submitted here between now and March 27.

Source: Nissin via Japaaan
Images: Nissin
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