Super-affordable Garigari-kun will become a little less so.

Over the past few months, it seems like hardly a day goes by in Japan without one company or another announcing that it’s raising the prices of its goods and/or services. It’s been going on long enough now that consumers are starting to become dulled to the financial pain, but the most recent announcement has a decidedly bittersweet sting.

Saitama Prefecture-based Akagi Nyugyo says that it will be raising the price of two of its frozen sweets, and one of them is Garigari-kun, Japan’s most iconic and popular brand of popsicle. This is only the third price increase since Akagi Nyugyo first released Garigari-kun in 1981, but it’s still a shock for fans.

▼ Also iconic is Garigari-kun’s sky blue color, in the shade seen here, which serves as a visual promise of how cool and refreshing it is.

One of the keys to Garigari-kun’s success is its unique texture. The block-shaped outer layer has the hardness of a conventional popsicle, but inside it’s filled with shaved ice. That makes Garigari-kun more thirst-quenching than a typical popsicle, and also easier to eat than a bowl of shaved ice that would require a spoon and melt quickly without a solid frozen coating.

When Garigari-kun first hit the market in 1981, it cost 50 yen. That price stayed steady for a decade, only climbing to 60 yen in 1991, and it wasn’t until 25 years after that, in 2016, that Akagi Nyugyo increased the price to 70 yen, putting out a sincere video apology to its customers. On Thursday, though, Akagi Nyugyo announced that it will be raising the price again, this time to 80 yen (US$0.55) for Garigari-kun shipments leaving the factory as of March 1 of 2024.

▼ The evolution of Garigari-kun’s toothy mascot, who shares his name with the product

As was the case with the last Garigari-kun price increase, this doesn’t seem to have been an easy decision for Akagi Nyugyo to make. In the announcement, the company cites rising costs of everything from ingredients, electricity, and labor to packaging, distribution, and even the wooden sticks the popsicles are formed around. Akagi Nyugyo says that it will also be raising the price of its Florida Sundae ice cream cups from 200 to 220 yen.

In absolute terms, Garigari-kun’s 10-yen increase might feel insignificantly small, but the jump to 80 yen means it’ll be 33 percent more expensive than it was at the start of 2016, despite the average worker in Japan not seeing much of an increase in their wages. There’s also the fact that along with its widely loved light apple/citrus flavor, Garigari-kun owes no small part of its popularity to how extremely affordable it’s traditionally been. It’s a snack that pretty much any little kid can afford with the coins in their pocket, no matter how small their allowance or tight their parents’ budget may be, making it a perennial favorite of boys and girls making unplanned stops at convenience stores to grab something to munch on or sip as they walk home from school or club activities with their friends. Many people continue to enjoy Garigari-kun as adults because of the nostalgia from those carefree childhood memories, so hopefully the price increase won’t cause today’s kids to miss out on making their own.

Source: Akagi Nyugyo via IT Media
Top image: Akagi Nyugyo
Insert images: Pakutaso, Akagi Nyugyo
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