17 October, 2013

All chocolate bars are not equal

Yesterday we farewelled our son to go to Guam (see the map). He'll be back next Tuesday, all things going well. He's there to run in a cross-country meet (see here) for his school.

A short conversation between two north Americans on Saturday got me thinking. Guam is actually a US territory.

Here's a tiny bit of it's nasty history over the last century:
As the largest island in Micronesia and the only U.S.-held island in the region beforeWorld War II, Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was occupied for two and a half years. During the occupation, the people of Guam were subjected to acts that included torture, beheadings, and rape,[7][8] and were forced to adopt the Japanese culture.[9] Guam was subject to fierce fighting when U.S. troops recaptured the island on July 21, 1944, a date commemorated every year as Liberation Day.[10]
Today, Guam's economy is supported by its principal industry, tourism, which is composed primarily of visitors from Japan. Guam's second largest source of income is the United States military.[11] (From here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guam)
About a 3 1/2 hr flight from Japan. It actually took
them longer to get to the airport from here (100km)
 than it took to fly, because of line stoppages due
to yesterday's typhoon.
So when expats get thinking about going to another country, especially their own, they think about what they can bring back that they "need" or "want". Food especially comes to mind.

So I got thinking about what from the US that we might want our son to bring back for us. I couldn't think of much. We get a taste of the US when we visit US bases here for sporting meets. Their shops are like foreign shops to us, more foreign than Japanese shops. Especially the sweets (or candy, as they would say it). It turns out that most junk food is pretty localised to the country-of-origin.

Our son loves Mars Bars. He'd run a few miles to get one! So, I thought, Surely you can buy a Mars Bar in the US. But I soon found out that what we know as a Mars Bar is not what Americans know. You can read about the murky history of the Mars Bar here.

It turns out that the Australian/British Mars is very similar to the United States Milky Way bar, which Mars, Inc. produced (not to be confused with the European version of Milky Way, which is similar to the United States' 3 Musketeers).

Which kind-of explains why we can get Snickers and Kit Kats here, but not Mars Bars. Japanese tend to import American food, rather than Australian. I wonder why . . . But it doesn't explain why the Milky Way here is pretty much the same as the Milky Way we get at home, not at all like Mars Bar. Ahhh, the more I think about it, the more I get confused.

Nonetheless, I doubt we'll be getting any chocolate bars out of our son's visit. He may, or may not figure out the differences. He may or may not buy some to bring back. But even if he did, I doubt that he'd be able to hold back from eating any he bought!

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