The fruit sandwich is a combination of two pieces of bread (without crusts), with whipped cream and fresh fruit pieces. The fruit sandwich was first invented in Japan in the 1910s-1920s. With the popularity of SNS, this type of food experienced a booming period in the past decade. Nowadays, it can be found in almost every supermarket and convenience store, and even many ‘fruit sandwich’ shops have opened. Ryo Takeshita is the sales manager of Japanese peeler innovator Astra. He tells a story of the history of the ‘Japanese fruit sandwich’ and how his company has benefited from the popularity of this type of food.
Fruit sandwich by MARUHACHI Fruit and vegetables Ponte-ya
History of the Japanese fruit sandwich
In the 90s-2000s, the fruit sandwich wasn’t that popular yet. Some stores had strawberry sandwiches but the popularity was limited. But in the 2010s, the fruit sandwich suddenly became very popular, particularly for two reasons, Ryo said.
"First, there were more types of fresh fruit available in the Japanese market during that period. It used to be just a strawberry sandwich, but in the 2010s the variation expanded to kiwi, orange, mango, pineapple, grape, etc. So, the sandwich became more colorful and beautiful. The second reason is, SNS, Instagram and twitter became popular in Japan in the 2010s, and people started to post photos of good-looking foods. Also celebrities post beautiful fruit sandwich pictures on SNS, especially on Instagram, which draw a lot of consumer’s interest, who then follow suit. This trend improved the name recognition of the fruit sandwich, and from around 2019 or 2020 until now business has been booming.”
As this type of food becomes more and more popular, in the past few years local people even made a new term for this type of food, “萌え断” (moedan)” 萌え(moe) means attractive, 断(dan) is a shortage of 断面(danmen) which means cross- section.
“Nowadays fruit sandwich specialty stores are opening every month and even convenience stores sell it. You can often see young people eating these beautiful deserts in sandwich stores along the street. Not just the most professionally made ones by stores, but the home-made fruit sandwich is also becoming very popular in Japanese primary and secondary schools. Mothers love to make a fruit sandwich for their kids as lunch dessert, as it serves carbohydrates and with various type of vitamin that kids need.”
Fruit sandwich by MARUHACHI Fruit and vegetables Ponte-ya
“The tricky thing is how to make fruit piece smooth and dry”
Though it looks an easy-to-make food, the tricky thing is the fresh fruit pieces in it. How to prepare various fruit pieces efficiently is a big challenge. “On the one hand, the fruit pieces need to be very clean, without any skin. On the other hand, the peeling should not be too deep otherwise it will generate unnecessary food waste.” Ryo said, “This is a delicate type of work, especially when processing small-size fruits such as kiwi and mini mango, which requires lots of time-consuming labor. Besides, as the fruit piece will be attached to the dry bread, the juicy drippings must be limited, otherwise it will affect the taste of the bread.”
As a fruit-peeling machine innovator, Astra received many inquiries from fruit sandwich stores that are looking for efficient peeling tools, that can result in smooth, and beautifully-peeled pieces of fresh fruit.
Fruits peeled by ASTRA fruit peeling machine
“Perfect peeler for making a fruit sandwich”
“Some ‘old-fashioned’ sandwich shops are either using traditional type ‘round peelers’, or the employees peel fruit manually. The downside of a ‘round peeler’ is that it cannot adjust peeling depth. This means that if you wish to peel only the surface, the peeling width will be very narrow and will consume more time, and the yield rate will be lowered. For the hand peeling method, hand-peeled fruits often lose their round shape and end up looking like hexagons or bricks with a rough uneven surface. To solve such problems, a ‘blade peeler’ can provide a perfect solution.”
"Our peeler shares similarities with manual peeling. The blade is straight, sharp, and thin. When turning, the blade moves in a polygonal way, while it is always tightly pressed to the surface of the fruit." Ryo explained.
“Blade quality and peeling movement are the two most important factors that define a ‘good peeler’. Not only the physical design, such as length, width, and shape of the peeler, but the material also plays an important role. To obtain the best blade quality, we used the top material for the blade for the peeler, and the metal used for some blades can only be produced in Japan. Besides, in order to have a superior peeling movement, we performed countless tests on the blade moving route, peeling angle, and rotation speed control. So, peeling seems a simple performance, but all these elements need to be balanced and interact with each other.”
Though the principle behind the peeler is quite complicated, the machine itself is designed in a very user-friendly way. “The machine is pre-programmed, all users need to do is attach the fruit to the peeler, choose a program, and press start. The peeling speed can be up to 400 pieces/hour (≈9 seconds/piece). With an adjustable peeling depth, the blade can handle fruit skin from ‘paper-thin’ to ‘cardboard-thick’.” Ryo introduced. “Most importantly, the machine size is very small. No matter whether it is a narrow store, or a household kitchen, our peeler can fit perfectly.”
ASTRA KA-700H peeler
Professional peeler innovator
Over the past 20 years, ASTRA has been fully dedicated to automatic peeler innovation. Astra has a series of fruit peeling machines, including the KA-700H model for oranges, apples, and kiwis, as well as the KA-750 series for peeling pineapples, melons, and mangos. The company has received several awards related to automatic peeling technologies.
“All the patents and awards are in recognition of our sincere efforts in innovation. We are proud to say that all of these technologies were born out of countless failures and ideas that were put into storage.” Ryo said.