Who knew that mochi — the slightly sweet and chewy rice cake confection from Japan — could be so dangerous?
According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the popular New Year’s candy is responsible for the deaths of two men in 2013 — both choked on the gummy confection. 15 other men and women in the area were hospitalized because of mochi.
As Asian news site Rocket News 24 points out, many of those who have problems with the sticky treat are older — of the 2013 New Year’s choking non-fatalities, one victim was in their 90’s, eight in their 80’s, three in their 70’s, and three in their 60’s.
But is mochi really that risky to eat? Rocket News 24 suggests that if you’re ever celebrating the new year in Japan, you might want to skip the traditional (and very popular) sweet. “It’s not really that good,” reporter Master Blaster writes, “and if you’re the type who inhales their food, it could prove fatal. Have some kamaboko (fish cake/gummy) instead.”
And while it’s really sad that mochi is a huge choking hazard, we’re not so sure that you should shun mochi altogether. Really?! Have savory fish cake instead of pleasantly sweet and chewy mochi — on New Year’s Day in Japan?
As an avid mochi lover, I’m not convinced. Although mochi might seem like a scary food to eat, it really isn’t all that difficult to consume — once you get used to it. It’s just as easy to choke on mochi as it is to choke on any other candy or food. Should we skip all of our favorite confections for fear of choking? Give up tapioca milk tea? Stop chewing gum? No, it just seems that one should instead a) be careful and b) learn the Heimlich maneuver if they’re really that worried about this traditional Japanese treat.
What do you think?