Fun Happy Meal in the shape of a locomotive with white smoke of dry ice profusely blowing out. Extra dry ice can be requested if the smoke stops in the middle of the meal. (Mitsukoshi, Landmark)
Have you ever struggled to make up your mind when ordering from a restaurant menu? In Japan, there's a very popular menu that children choose without hesitation. It's called the "Okosama Lunch (Happy Meal)," a special menu made specifically for children. It consists of all their favorite food—like hamburger patty, fried shrimp, sweet pudding and fruits—dished up for nutrition and fun, presented on top of a particular plate in an enjoyable shape like a car or train.
Locomotive Running through the Jungle
At a restaurant in a department store located in the heart of Tokyo, the capital of Japan, a Happy Meal is served to a table of family with children. The plate decorated charmingly with children's favorite foods like hamburger patty and fried shrimp comes in the shape of a red locomotive, with smoke blowing out profusely from the funnel. The secret behind the smoke is the dry ice beneath the funnel. The luncheon mat laid under the dish made out of paper can be folded along the dotted line to create animals like giraffe, elephant and lion, completing a "pop-up picture book." Before they even notice, children become full while they imagine a locomotive running through the jungle.
Meal of Admiration
Japan's first Happy Meal, Kid's Western Meal, reproduced by the department store Mitsukoshi.
The first Happy Meal in Japan was made by a restaurant in 1930. It originated from a restaurant worker who saw a new pictured plate and wished “to create a delicious and fun menu that only children can eat." A variety of children's favorites—like croquette, spaghetti, sandwich, ham, and sweet bonbon—are dished on the plate in small portions, and in the center, rice in the shape of Mt. Fuji, which is known as Japan's tallest mountain, towers over in a cool way. At the top of the rice heap is a flag raised as if to commemorate the summit. The new menu was initially named "Kid's Western Meal."
Back then, in Japan, refrigerators had only begun to be sold. Although there were some western foods, such as stew and curry, the meals eaten at home were mostly traditional Japanese cuisine like grilled fish with rice. The unusual western-style menu made for kids quickly became the menu of admiration for Japanese children.
Favorite foods dished on top of a plate that looks like a real moving bullet train
This idea spread throughout Japan and, now, over 80 years since then, there are almost no restaurants in department stores that do not have a Happy Meal. Many uniquely shaped plates are also appearing one after another, according to each restaurant. For example, restaurants at train stations have plates shaped as a bullet train, and restaurants at aquariums have plates with pictures of dolphins. There are also Happy Meals that come with gifts like toys, enabling restaurants to always be filled with children's smiles.
|Children's menu for eating on a plane ©Japan Airlines||
Japanese-style Happy Meal dished with sushi.