Marlins P Junichi Tazawa Behind Booming Popularity Of Hi-Chew Gum In MLB
Marlins P Junichi Tazawa is at the "epicenter of the U.S. boom in popularity of Hi-Chew, a chewy, fruity Japanese candy, and the existence of its parent company’s North Carolina factory that employs 90 people," according to Tim Healey of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. In '12 while with the Red Sox, as the reliever with the least amount of major league service time, he was "tasked with stocking up on gum and bringing it to the bullpen so the rest of the relief corps had plenty to last through the game." Tazawa "included a few Hi-Chews from his personal stash," and they were an "instant hit." Marlins SS Mike Aviles, who also was with the Red Sox at the time, said, "People were just dominating them." Tazawa "couldn’t keep up with his teammates’ desire." He contacted Morinaga America -- Hi-Chew's parent company -- and "asked to buy Hi-Chew in bulk." Morinaga "did him one better: gave it to him for free." Hi-Chew’s popularity inside Fenway Park "helped Morinaga realize it could grow the brand through baseball." By '14, Hi-Chew had "sponsorships with Tazawa’s Red Sox, plus the Twins and Cubs." Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, also a '12 teammate of Tazawa, is the "face of Hi-Chew’s deal with the Dodgers" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/22).