In 1943 it became common to see dozens of people waiting outside a humble home in the old neighborhood of La Merced to buy the novelty of the moment: shelled peanuts covered by a roasted layer of wheat with soybeans.
the man behind suc simple delicacy was Yoshihei Nakatani Moriguchi, a 33 years old short man originally from Japan, who months ago had lost his job after the forced closure of the companies of his employer, the Japanese businessman Heijiro Kato in Mexico.
Those closures werer ordered by the Mexican government after pointing out that Kato was a spy of the Japanese empire -something very dangerous during the World War II- and other important Japanese in Mexico were placed with him on a ship and sent back to their country.
But before, he closed his prestigious warehouse El Nuevo Japon, a strong competitor of El Palacio de Hierro and Liverpool. Also, their nacre shell button factory, where the young Yoshihei Nakatani worked, was closed.
Running out of work might not have been so worrying for Nakatani, however, he had just married a Mexican girl from La Merced neighborhood named Emma, and they already had children.
The need made the marriage begin to prepare a mexican snack called mueganos, then they invented a wheat and salt snack which they named “oranda” (like the Japanese carp) and finally they sought to create a snack based on peanuts, soybeans and flour rice. However, Yoshihei realized that this last ingredient did not exist in Mexico, and he replaced it with wheat flour.
The result of this merger was a commercial success: dozens of people were piling up outside the neighborhood at Carretones Street, La Merced neighborhood, where Nakatani and his family lived, to buy the peanuts.
Those first clients soon baptized them as “Japanese Peanuts”, which is the name they keep until today.
They had to take advantage of the good run of their product, and Yoshigei and Emma decided to leave their children in charge of the sale in the neighborhood. And they went out to near markets to sell their peanuts, now wrapped in cellophane paper.
Immediately the owners of candy stores in the La Merced market began placing orders in quantities that they would never have imagined.
By 1950 Elvia, the fourth daughter of the marriage, drew a geisha commissioned by her father, this illustration served as the first face of her Japanese Peanuts, now named “Nippon.”
Due to their commercial success, big producers of snacks in Mexico took advantage the Nakatani family, unfortunately, they did not registered the recipe patent of the product.
Thus, in the 1980s there was a boom in the consumption and sale of Japanese Peanuts in Mexico. And gradually, the Nakatani were relegated to the lowest part of the business, situation that worsened with the arrival of low quality brands.