NOW Live from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Candy Bars from across the Sea

APA Collections Update from Noriko Sanefuji:

I would like to share some discoveries made on my recent trip to Northern Europe. One fun activity that has become somewhat of a ritual whenever I arrive in a new city is to check out the supermarkets to see what the local people eat. Being surrounded by the sea, both in Sweden and Finland, fish was in abundance—fresh, pickled and smoked. Since it was summer time, lots of vegetables and fruits were available as well.

'Geisha' is a brand of milk chocolate candy in Northern Europe.

Nothing in particular stood out until I walked down the snack and candy aisle. First, I saw a product named “Nippon,” which is a chocolate-covered rice puff, then I saw “Geisha” which is a milk chocolate candy. I didn’t really give much thought to the names, other than “interesting branding.” There were lots of Asian food branding, such as “Blue Dragon,” with products such as ramen noodles, soy sauce, and teas—pretty much any kind of Asian food product.

'Kina' is a chocolate bar by Fazer, and 'Filipinos' are chocolate-covered cookies.

Then, I discovered candy bars with more intriguing names, such as, “Filipinos,” which look like donut-shaped chocolate-covered cookies. Hmmm, where does the product gets its name? Even more astonishing was “Kina” chocolate bar by Fazer, one of the oldest Finnish chocolate companies. Kina means China and also comes with the caricature of an Asian girl in cartoon face. At this point, I thought nothing will startle me…. until I saw the ultimate bar…. named “Japp.”

'Japp' is a candy similar to Milky Way.

I had to try it! I was curious to know what a “Japp” tastes like. I must say it is very similar to a Milky Way both in taste and appearance. It makes you wonder what is the motivation behind racially/ethnically-based naming of candy bars. Whatever the motivation, I always remind myself that I am a guest in their country, and try my best to be a non-judgmental, inquisitive tourist with an open mind.


  • Ahyoung

    What an interesting name…

  • pingvin

    I just have to clarify, the candy bar “Japp” isn’t racist at all, it has nothing to do with Japan or japaneese people. It’s a swedish word that means “yep!”, or something along those lines.

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    August 5, 2010
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