Chiba boasts the highest peanut production in Japan. Peanuts from Chiba are popular in the market and known for their pleasant aroma. However, even in this famous peanut producing area, farmers are getting older and peanut production is declining each year.
Under these circumstances, some youngsters from Chiba launched a peanut butter brand made with local peanuts—called HAPPY NUTS DAY. This time we are pleased to introduce the peanut butter created by the brand.
Here are some reasons why HAPPY NUTS DAY peanut butter makes a great gift.
The packaging of HAPPY NUTS DAY, which serves as the face of the product, is a simple jar with monotone-based design, featuring a cute picture of a peanut that is also the brand logo. The design is a fashionable addition to the table and makes a perfect gift. There is also a gift-wrap option online you can choose from according to the occasion.
The surprisingly rich peanut aroma spreads throughout your mouth as soon as it enters your mouth. First, put plenty of the peanut butter on bread and enjoy it. The peanut butter is made with simple ingredients—just peanuts, beet sugar and salt—and offers the natural aroma and richness of peanuts. The product is available in grainy and creamy types, the former with a tangible peanut texture, and the latter without the crushed peanuts, so try both and see which texture you prefer.
How did HAPPY NUTS DAY’s peanut butter come about? We asked the brand’s representative Go Nakano.
There are reject peanuts that get discarded because they are unshapely, even though they are tasty. When Nakano received these peanuts from a farmer he knew, he roasted the peanuts with his friends, using a portable gas stove and a frying pan, and then ground the peanuts in a mortar to make peanut butter.
“At first we put a hand-made label on the jar and sold it at local stores like michi-no-eki (translation: roadside station). After that, with customer feedback, we improved the ingredients and the recipe and made the peanut butter we thought best.”
After graduating from art school, Nakano was working at a PR agency as an art director, but allured by peanut butter making, he ended up launching his own brand.
Nakano deliberately designed the packaging to be something that would work as part of home décor, because he thought it would mostly sit in the dining room after breakfast. The peanut butter’s story spread via social media to the point that stores throughout Japan are now selling it.
The peanut butter features peanuts from Chiba. Skilled roasters check the peanuts with their own eyes and carefully roast them with daily temperature and humidity fluctuations in mind. The peanut butter also contains sea salt from Kujukuri and beet sugar from Hokkaido. That’s it. The good, ample natural oil in peanut makes the paste smooth after the peanuts are ground.
Most commercial peanut butters contain non-peanut oils and flavors, but HAPPY NUTS DAY peanut butters are made only with ingredients children can safely eat.
Though peanut butter is thought to be spread on bread, it can actually be used for many dishes like a seasoning.
“Customers who bought our peanut butter created many ways to enjoy it. For example, you can make a sauce with the peanut butter and ponzu with a ratio of one to three, and pour it over cold meats. It’s delicious.”
Nakano gets many ideas from a wide range of peanut butter recipes uploaded on social media sites regularly. Based on these ideas he even published a book introducing how to enjoy peanut butter. The book will make anyone happy if they receive it as a gift.
We visited the peanut field of HAPPY NUTS DAY when the tiny yellow peanut flowers blossomed.
“Peanut flowers crawl into the ground after they blossom, pulled down by a part called gynophore, and then they bear fruit. That is why peanuts are called rakkasei (translation: flowers falling and bearing fruit),” said Nakano, telling us of the Japanese name origin of peanuts.
Nakano knew nothing about peanuts. But as he talked with farmers who grew peanuts with much attention he began to harbor a love for peanuts.
“The producers are growing the peanuts with so much love, so we want to make the peanut butter with as much love and deliver the love to our customers.”
HAPPY NUTS DAY is also trying to revive the local economy, holding a peanut farming-experience course, and holding activities at an abolished school in Kujukuri. These activities are posted on social media sites, attracting more fans each day.
Recently, the company has outsourced shipping operations from the online store to a facility in Chiba, of people with disabilities. The people at the facility who could not write letters well before practiced hard and can now write “thank you.” Apparently, they now write “thank you” and put illustrations like a smiley by hand, on each shipment.
“Products and how they are communicated need to change through the course of time. I hope our efforts can boost peanut farming and the local economy, even a little.”
It appears Nakano’s passion will not stop at peanut butter making but will continue beyond.
We hope you enjoy this peanut butter, created from many chain reactions of happiness.
Writer : KAORI NOZAWA / Photographer : SATOSHI TACHIBANA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.