【 カール (kāru) 】”Karl” by Meiji
The curly long-time favorite corn puff snack was introduced in 1968.
In the ’60s, while お菓子 (okashi; snacks) were still considered sweet in Japan, salty snacks were becoming popular in the U.S. Catching on this new trend, カール was the first non-sweet snack in Japan.
A few カール fun facts:
・The light corn puff snack was inspired by American popcorn.
・カール人形 (kāru ningyou), a Western-looking doll with curly bangs which was extremely popular at that time, inspired the name カール.
・The カール logo has been the same since 1968.
・カールおじさん Uncle Karl who is the mascot for the snack (and Meiji) was originally a supporting role in the カール commercial. The main character was a boy called 坊や (Boya) to appeal to kids and to establish the corn puff as a snack for kids, but Uncle Karl attracted more attention and soon became the mascot.
・Under the straw hat, カールおじさん is bald.
You can watch vintage animated カール TV commercials here.
カール has been a favorite snack for many for half a century, but two years ago, they downsized production. Now they are only sold in areas west of Shiga/Kyoto/Nara/Wakayama due to declining sales and low profitability. The news came as a shock to long-time カール fans.
So if you happen to travel to Western Japan, don’t forget to grab a bag as a souvenir.
Resources: Karl Site (Meiji)