Drop a coin, grab a snack: Kiosk-in-a-box spreads in Japan

Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:13am EDT
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By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's long-toiling office workers have an incentive to stay chained to their desks: shrimp-flavored crackers, cafe-au-lait taffies, spicy potato chips and M&M candy.

Confectionery maker Ezaki Glico has taken convenience to a new level for corporate employees too busy to pop out of the office with kiosks-in-a-box filled with munchies.

The three-drawer box - roughly the size of a countertop file cabinet - contains 24 items when fully stocked. Company workers simply deposit 100 yen ($1) in a frog-shaped piggy bank, open a drawer and take the snack of their choice.

On the face of it, relying on trust may seem a risk, but Japanese are well known for their honesty. The business is also profitable and at least one major retailer has followed suit.

Goods are replenished or replaced weekly by an army of 500 part-time workers. The contents on offer change every three weeks, adding an element of surprise that vending machines do not provide, said Keisuke Furuyabu, who heads the business, called Office Glico.

"There's an air of mystery and fun," he said.

When a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck Japan in March 2011 and paralyzed the capital's public transportation system, stranded office workers subsisted on Glico snacks.

Notes of gratitude gave the company the idea of marketing Office Glico as a useful addition to disaster relief, said Furuyabu.   Continued...

An office worker puts a 100 yen coin into a frog-shaped piggy bank filled with snacks for office workers, Ezaki Glico's kiosks-in-a-box Office Glico, at an office in Tokyo August 8, 2014.   REUTERS/Yuya Shino