Japanese immigrants played a prominent role in Mexican snack culture. Cacahuate japones, muegano, jamonsillo, chamoy, and habas are all snacks currently sold in Mexican markets that were invented by Japanese immigrants. In this presentation, I introduce the history of these popular Mexican snacks and sweets based on field work I conducted in Mexico City from September 7 to 16, 2018. Mexico and Japan are distant and there were far fewer Japanese immigrants to Mexico as compared to other countries, including the USA and Brazil. As such, neither people in Mexico nor Japan expect that Japanese immigrants in Mexico contributed to the creation of some popular Mexican foods. However, this is precisely the case. The creation of these snacks dates back to World War II. Because Mexico was an ally of the USA in this war, all Japanese companies in Mexico were closed and Japanese immigrants became unemployed. In order to make a living, some immigrants became street vendors, selling home-made Japanese snacks and sweets. The story behind these popular snack foods is not well known in Mexico. Rather, many believe these snacks are Mexican, not Japanese. The Japanese immigrants who created these snacks are deceased and their family members are old. It is urgent for historians to interview their remaining family members to conserve the important history of Japanese immigrants’ influence on popular snacks in Mexico.
Mariko Nihei, Tokai University, Japan
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