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Estás en HomeCurioblogI Can’t Find the Bananas Anywhere!
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 el 12 Nov 2008 por Ayumi Nakai

I Can’t Find the Bananas Anywhere!

In Japanese supermarkets, products that are part of health food fads are quickly sold out. This year it’s the banana.

Cover of the famous book
Cover of the famous book
Cover of the famous book Bananas start selling out at this shop TV programs talks about the diet
Why aren’t there any bananas at the supermarket?

Something interesting happened at Japanese supermarkets and food shops towards the end of September 2008: bananas started selling out rapidly. Orders would arrive and hours later not a single banana would be left on the shelves. Bananas had suddenly become trendy all over the country. Why did this happen?

There’s an explanation, and it requires traveling back to October 2006, when Mr. and Mrs. Hamachi wrote an article on a Japanese social network called Mixi. The article was about the Morning Banana Diet, a diet that has raised passions in Japan for several reasons: it’s easy to follow, you can eat as many bananas as you want, and on top of that you don’t need to cook. If you follow the diet correctly, in a few weeks you’ll have lost several pounds. Sounds like a miracle diet, doesn’t it?

The Hamachis published a book about this diet and sold 400 thousand copies in Japan alone. Each time the diet was mentioned on TV, audience figures soared as the programs showed before and after shots of several women who had followed the Banana Diet and lost an average of 16 and a half pounds. Of course, everyone wanted to go on the banana diet.

Everything rises except the pounds

Several Japanese supermarkets, such as Dole, Life Corporation and Itoyokado, declared that their banana sales had skyrocketed due to the Banana Diet, an increase of up to 70% in some shops. The price of bananas also went up considerably (12%) and even the volume of banana imports increased 25% according to Japan’s Ministry for Finance. In short, everything rose with the banana: orders, sales, prices, imports… everything except the pounds, which were shed all the more quickly as more bananas were consumed.

Fad Diets in Japan

Incredible? Not really, since it’s not the first time a diet becomes fashionable in Japan and turns into a mass phenomenon. In fact, it’s something that happens often and with a different product each time. Here is a list of some of the products that have become fashionable diet items in Japan:

2008 Morning banana
2007 Fermented soy, cocoa
2006 Cabbage, banana vinegar
2005 Dried skimmed milk
2004 Soy milk
2003 Nigari (magnesium chloride)
2002 Carrot juice
2000 Black vinegar
1999 Hot pepper
1996 Cocoa
1995 Water
1994 Kefir (fermented milk product originally from the Caucasus), vegetable soup
1993 Eucommia ulmoides (Chinese tea made from this plant), cream of coconut

*Source: Syu-kan Asashi, published in October 2008


Not everyone likes the banana diet


Despite this diet’s success, there are all sorts of different opinions about it. Many doctors consider the diet to be dangerous and unreliable. They say it’s not advisable to follow a diet in which only one food product is consumed, no matter how many vitamins and minerals that product may have. Other experts in nutrition assure us that, if we eat nothing but bananas, our organism won’t get enough proteins or lipids and we will soon become ill. And another specialist declares: “Bananas have become a hit only because they are cheap, delicious and easy to eat.”

Other banana diet detractors criticize the TV programs on health and nutrition, now so in fashionable in Japan. Other programs are known to make false and exaggerated claims about diet results… And the truth is that television has been one of the keys to turning this diet, like so many others, into a mass phenomenon. That’s why many are skeptical.

What will be next?

Today things seem to have returned to normal. The boom has lasted close to a month and bananas are now back at fruit stands and supermarkets all over the country. It was a passing fashion, just like the ones before, that stirred up equal parts of criticism and praise. Following this analysis a question arises: What will be next? All signs seem to indicate that the food product chosen for the next diet fad will be another fruit: the kiwi.

Official Banana Diet web site
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