Although watermelon has always been traditionally associated with summertime in Japan, we’ve seen many more interesting watermelon-flavored summer gifts, or ochuugen, pop up compared to previous years, like this amazing watermelon-shaped mousse cake we taste-tested and raved about just last week.
Ochuugen, which were traditionally gifts presented as a token of gratitude to one’s parents and close family during the summer, are now given to anyone the giver feels indebted to around this time of year. As we’ve mentioned before, Japanese living spaces are sometimes smaller and more cramped than their western counterparts, especially in bigger cities, so the most popular gifts to give and receive are daily necessities, such as laundry detergent or cooking oil, and things that can be quickly consumed, like snacks or sweets. This year, Japanese traditional sweet company Yagumo Dango decided to hop on the watermelon bandwagon and release a limited run of watermelon dango as part of their summer gift set.
Yagumo Dango, who has been making and selling dango for almost 70 years, really seem to know their stuff when it comes to this Japanese dessert favorite. On top of selling the more traditional white, sweet soy sauce-coated dango, over the years they’ve started putting out a variety of flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, green tea, kinako (roasted soybean flour), and other seasonal flavors like banana and black sesame.
This year, however, they decided to mix things up by offering this limited-edition watermelon flavor, pictured below.
Each stick of dango is prepared by hand, using watermelon juice for color and flavor, black sesame for the seeds, and is then covered on the outside with blended chocolate to make each dumpling look exactly like a miniature version of the real thing.
Boxed gift sets including three watermelon dango and 12 sticks of the company’s other popular assorted flavors were made available for ordering online from July 23 at 9:00 Japan Standard Time, and were quickly snapped up by eager customers. As it stands the sets are currently sold out, and it’s unknown whether Chocomanto will put any more up for sale, but we can only hope!
Needless to say, anyone who receives these dango as a summer gift should consider themselves extremely lucky. As the peak of gift-giving season quickly approaches, we’re looking forward to seeing what other possible watermelon-themed treats or other edible goodies await!