The Untold Truth Of Hi-Chew

You're not going to be able to count them as part of your five-a-day of fruits, but there's something to be said about the yum factor of Hi-Chew, America's candy craze. Hi-Chew bars found in our grocery stores may be made in America, but the concept crossed the Pacific from Japan, where they were first created by Morinaga & Co.

The candy company was started up by Taichiro Morinaga — who actually moved from Japan to America in 1888 when he was 23 years old. It was in the US where he learned how to make candy. After he returned to Japan in 1899, Morinaga opened a namesake store called The Morinaga Western Confectionery Shop, which eventually became known as Morinaga & Co in 1918. Morinaga was the first modern candy company in Japan, and it became known for its chocolates.

Several decades would pass before the candymaker would come up with the idea of creating the strawberry-flavored Fruit Chewlet in 1956. This chewy confection was special because it behaved like a piece of gum, but instead of going flavorless, the Chewlet dissolved in your mouth so there was nothing to toss out when it was over. A newer, bigger, snazzier Chewlet was debuted in 1975, but this time, the candy was rebranded as Hi-Chew, and the rest is history.

Japanese Hi-Chew bars are different from their American counterparts

Hi-Chew used to be made in Japan and then imported for sale in the US. But a combination of factors that include higher import taxes and the need for a "Made in America" tag were good enough reasons for Morinaga to invest in — and open a manufacturing facility — in North Carolina in 2015. But as the brand's marketing manager Kayleigh Westerfield told Confectionery News, there was another reason why Hi-Chew needed to be made in America. "From a company goal standpoint, we really value and cherish the Japanese heritage of this brand and we respect it, but we want Americans to accept this as their candy. This is an American-made product, not just some strange ethnic candy that sits in the back corner of the Asian aisle. It can compete with big brands," she said. Today, Forbes says 31 pieces of Hi-Chew are eaten every second; or about 1,902 pieces a minute, 114,155 pieces an hour, 2,730,900 a day, and nearly 1 billion a year. 

And Confectionery News says Morinaga stayed true to its word. Japanese Hi-Chew bars are different from their American cousins. The Japanese version has more than 200 flavors on offer in America there are 13 flavors (including pineapple, grapefruit, mango, banana, grape, and kiwi). While Japanese Hi-Chew candies are portion sized differently from their American counterparts, both candies share one quality: they use real fruit concentrate so that the flavor is as close to the fruit it is meant to mimic. 

Hi-Chew bars may be high sugar, but they're not high-calorie

If you're on diet and are wondering whether you might have room for a couple of Hi-Chews, you'd be in luck. While they might be shaped a bit differently, and have different flavors, Aspire Fitness points out that Hi-Chew candies generally have similar nutrition profiles: roughly 210 calories for 10 pieces, with 4.5 grams of fat, 41 grams of carbohydrates, and a gram of protein. However, Aspire Fitness notes, "The Hi-Chew bar is purposely made into bite-sized pieces because it is meant to be eaten as a small candy." So if you can manage to kick your Hi-Chew craving with a piece or two, 21 calories — which is what each Hi-Chew effectively breaks down into — you aren't likely to tip the scales. So while you may not want to go to town on the candy because of the amount of sugar it's got, having Hi-Chew in moderation shouldn't have too much of an impact on your weight. Plus, with about 20 pieces per a bag, they're a treat that's easy to share with a group.

If you're a Hi-Chew superfan, you're in good company. Forbes says Hi-Chew has a stable of celeb fans that include Chrissy Teigen, Ryan Gosling, John Mayer, Macklemore, and Nicki Minaj. It's also sponsored sports teams like the LA Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago Cubs.