Nichirei’s Hot Food returns, thanks to the very thing that caused it to disappear in the first place.

It was with great sadness that, at the end of March, Japanese food company Nichirei announced that they’d be discounting their line of vending machines. In a country with as many vending machines as Japan, the loss of one particular type might not seem like anything to despair over, but Nichirei’s Hot Food machines were special.

Unlike the standard beverage-only machines that dot Japan, Hot Food offered, as promised, all sorts of hot food. The machines were especially common at highway rest stops, regional train stations, and other transportation hubs, and the flavor of their food, while not necessarily fine dining, was a telltale sign that “Yep, you’re on vacation and traveling in Japan.”

But after more than 30 years of faithful service, Nichirei decided to shut down and uninstall its Hot Food vending machines. Why? Because over the past few decades convenience stores have proliferated across Japan, and extended their hours of business to a full 24 a day. Basically, Nichirei’s Hot Food machines can’t compete against the wider selection of snacks, meals, and munchies offered by convenience stores…which makes a recent development all the more ironic, snice it’s now a convenience store that’s giving Hot Food a new lease on life.

Over the past few days, fans craving their nostalgic flavor have been discovering Hot Food items for sale at branches of the 100 Yen Lawson convenience store chain. And sure enough, they’re priced at just 100 yen (US$0.97) each, less than a third of what they sold for from the Hot Food vending machines.

So far Hot Food loyalists have found Nichirei’s Taiwanese fried rice with spicy ground meat, hamburger set with fries and dried chicken, and hot dogs for sale at 100 Yen Lawson.

We should point out that 100 Yen Lawson is not to be confused with its corporate sibling just-plain “Lawson.” Of the two, 100 Yen Lawson has fewer locations and tends to be found farther outside the exact center of major cities. It also doesn’t look like all 100 Yen Lawson branches currently have the Nichirei Hot Food items, and neither company has formally announced whether this is going to be an ongoing venture or will only last until Nichirei uses up its remaining stock of Hot Food frozen items. For the time being, though, Nichirei Hot Food is back, just without its machines.

Source: Hachima Kiko, Twitter
Photos © SoraNews24
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