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The Konapun Cake Kitchen and Donut Kitchen (Bandai Co. Ltd.)

A toy that lets kids create imitation snacks that resemble the real thing is very popular in Japan today. The toy, called Konapun, first went on sale some 20 years ago, but the new version can make even more realistic copies of food. Konapun can be used to produce miniature replicas of a wide range of foods, including donuts, cakes, and ice cream.

The key ingredient in Konapun (kona means "powder") is sodium alginate, a kind of fiber that is contained in seaweed and dissolves easily in water. Neither heat nor oil is used in making the replica snacks, and while the donuts and cakes are not to be eaten, kids can enjoy the process of making great-looking snacks.

The Konapun series features Cake Kitchen, Donut Kitchen, and Ice Cream Kitchen. Let's look at how to make donuts using the Donut Kitchen. The kitchen contains the ingredients "donut konapun," "chocolate donut konapun," "sugar sauce konapun," and "oil konapun." Kitchen utensils are also needed to make these replica snacks, and the set comes with an oil tank, a bowl, a measuring cup, a tray, and donut molds. It's almost like a real donut shop!

To make the donuts, first pour one bag of donut konapun into the bowl. Then add 10 milliliters of water and mix well. Pour the mixture into the donut molds, and wait about 15 minutes for it to become firm. Next, add water to the sugar sauce powder and mix. Then, put the bag of oil powder into the oil tank, add 100 ml of water, and mix well.

Have you ever made donuts? Donuts are placed in hot oil, bubbles rise up, and the donuts float up to the top by themselves when they are done. Konapun is amazing in that you can experience the exact same thing. When the firm donuts are placed in the oil tank, bubbles begin to emerge. Like the real thing, when the replica donuts float up to the top, they are done. After taking them out, you can enjoy topping them with sugar sauce. These cute little replica donuts are about 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter.

Using “Cake Kitchen,” you can make a decorated cake, chocolate cake, and strawberry cake. And with “Ice Cream Kitchen,” you can create replicas of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint ice cream. Even adults will find themselves captivated by the detail of Konapun, so for girls (or boys) who like to play house or pretend to cook, this is a great toy. If you practice using Konapun, maybe you’ll grow up to be a pastry chef!

(Updated in January 2007)