IRVINE, Calif. -- Hi-Chew joins the craze for flavors that make you pucker, with new Sour Sticks in grapefruit, lemon and lime.
Morinaga America Inc. is rolling out the new flavors nationally for its chewy candy, which has long been a favorite in Japan.
Since Hi-Chew entered the U.S. market five years ago with its Sours Citrus Mix bag, sales have increased fivefold, the company said. The growing popularity of sour flavors encouraged the company to expand its offering with the new tangy tastes in individual sticks.
The flavors are reflected in the bright exterior colors of each candy piece to differentiate the citrus flavors. Each stick includes seven individually wrapped chews. The candies are gluten-free and nut-free, and they are made with real fruit juices and purees.
Grapefruit is a common flavor in Japanese candies, the company said. And lemon is a classic American taste, with lemonade considered a refreshing treat. Lime, which the company said is a vital ingredient in many recipes and also enjoyable alone, offers a tart chew.
"We're happy to bring Hi-Chew Sours Sticks to the U.S. market following the incredible success of the sour flavors," said Norio Otsuki, chief operating officer of Morinaga America.
Hi-Chew plans to launch more flavors throughout the year, he said. Original Hi-Chew is offered in the United States in strawberry, green apple, mango, grape, cherry, banana, and melon flavors. Hi-Chew Bites are offered in grape, strawberry, mango, and orange and made with real fruit juice blended into the chewy candy, which is 100% free of cholesterol or artificial colors.
The history of Hi-Chew stretches back over a century, when company founder Taichiro Morinaga brought candy-making skills to Japan from America in 1899. Morinaga & Co. Ltd. was the first maker of chocolates in Japan. Hi-Chew is a top soft fruit candy in Japan. In recent years, it has entered the rest of Asia and America.
Morinaga America Inc. is the sales division and Morinaga America Foods Inc. is the production subsidiary. Both are wholly owned by Morinaga & Co. Ltd.