Autumn and a new chapter at Family Mart

Last week I promised that I would write about that dark horse, my dear Mr. Family Mart and his mysterious ways. Believe me, he’s still being mysterious and keeping his cards (ie autumn products), VERY close to his chest. By this, I mean they have been slightly lacking. There has been, however, a major upheaval in his life which may account for why he’s been a little distracted lately.

This week I will introduce and add some autumn pizzazz to some of the my recent Family Mart favourites.

But, first things first. The merger. Yes, Family Mart Co. and Uny Group Holdings Co., who own the Circle K Sunkus konbini [コンビニ] chain, merged last month. This makes Family Mart the second largest konbini in Japan after 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven has 18,800 stores, but Family Mart is slowly closing in with 17,000. See, I TOLD you! There is just something about Mr. Family Mart. Slow and steady as he may be, he is definitely a contender. The conversion of 6,250 Circle K Sunkus stores into Family Marts is a mammoth task and, I suspect, explains the lack of new products. This WILL change however. I guarantee it.

Now, onto the goodies. As I’ve stressed for the past two columns Family Mart’s oden [おでん] is impressive. Give that a go first, but then move on.

danish

My current favourite is an addictive new melon/meron pan [メロンパン], the pisu choko denisshu [ピスチョコデニッシュ] or “choco piece danish”. Sweet Jesus. If you didn’t believe in God before this, you will now. It has a cookie-cake-pastry consistency (yes, all three, if you can believe that’s possible) plus chunks of chocolate inside. I don’t mean just chocolate chips, I mean a mix of tiny chocolate chips and big, hunks of chocolate. It’s divine. Like a naughty secret, I take great pleasure in eating for breakfast, and, sometimes, as part of dinner. If you heat it up slightly in the microwave and let the chocolate melt… Well, I will not be responsible for your groans of pleasure. Try not to disturb your neighbours 😉

chunks2

family mart chocolate chunk melon pan

Another recent staple is this wonderful little bento [弁当]. The tori-soboro [鶏そぼろ弁当] includes a combination of both egg and sweet, crumbly ground chicken on top of a bed of rice with some veggies and a lovely bit of spicy sausage. I like this combined with the above for dessert. Or oden. The bento and oden I mean. Not oden and the danish. That would just be a weird. Even for me.

soboro-bento

Family Mart has also recently revamped their donut range. They not only have fancy new packaging, but have a wider variety; wider in fact than any other konbini and that is definitely something to be smug about. My favourite is the churro (churros is the plural!) because who doesn’t like churros?! Anyway, being an Aussie and therefore, growing up dipping my bikkies (biscuits, what Americans call cookies) into my cuppa (cup of tea), the next logical step for me was clearly to dip my churro into my (hot) coffee. *Insert double groan of pleasure here* For the inexperienced, be careful that you don’t leave it for too long otherwise it will get too soggy and fall into your cup. Big, sodden chunks at the end of your coffee just don’t taste the same.

family-mart-donuts

Okay, okay, so none of these products are particularly good for you, so let me give you one product that is super healthy. It’s a Greek yoghurt and it’s hideous. Try it and tell me it isn’t. It comes in a range of flavours and again, Family Mart has a wider variety than 7-Eleven. It also has an awesome little Halloween version which attracted my attention.

Finally, and most memorably, I give you… the an [餡] or anko [餡こ], sweet red bean paste croissant.

newanpanfm

I have no idea why no one thought of this before, as it is clearly an amazing combination of two of the most amazing things to eat in the world. The person who thought of this is going to get a promotion for sure. It IS a new product, as you can see from the red sticker, and I’m betting it’s one of the first in a long line from the newly merged, bigger, better, brighter and more handsome, Family Mart. 7-Eleven, hold onto your hat, because I can feel a show-down coming on…

Happy merger and enjoy this week pigging out on the products reviewed… except the yoghurt… you can skip that. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’re interested, you can read the full article about the merger here. For a new and very clever logo idea for Family Mart from journalist, David McNeill, click here.

Jade Brischke

Jade first visited Hiroshima with a group of her students from Australia and after falling in love with the city, vowed that one day she would return to live and work. It seems dreams really do come true! When she's not writing she's out and about with her camera, walking and exploring the streets or some may say, wandering aimlessly. She, however, doesn't believe any wandering is aimless. Jade blogs regularly at jackcrispy.com.

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