There is viral marketing and then there is weird marketing. The Hello Kitty brand has found a way to fall into both categories. Sanrio, the company behind the iconic character, achieved its highest level of fame through the Hello Kitty Hospital in Taiwan. Now, the Japanese brand has paired up with some of the world’s best melons. Due to that connection, people are forking over handfuls of money.
For the last few years, growers in Japan’s agricultural hub have found a way to help adults and children eat more fruit. Based in Furano, Hokkaido, one month before the harvest, the farmers carve the face of Hello Kitty into the rind of a melon. During the next month, the hollows are filled in and take on the same color and texture as the rest of the cantaloupe. Come harvest time, there is a seamless blend of fruit and icon. One cannot help but think of other artistic fruit, such as the Buddha pears.
The Hello Kitty cantaloupes are a limited time offer. They are also only available through Belluna, the online gourmet food store. With only 300 emblazoned cantaloupes available, people wait in electronic queues in an attempt to win the right to purchase the fruit. For a mere $54, the Hello Kitty cantaloupes come with free delivery to any home in Japan. International residents will have to pay for special shipping, as the decorative green and white box is not very sturdy.
$54 may seem like an insane amount of money for one cantaloupe. However, compared to cantaloupe prices earlier in the year, it is a steal. Hokkaido, the fruit bowl of Japan, made headlines in May during the first melon auction of 2016. A supermarket in the city of Amagasaki, located in Hyogo Prefecture, recently bought Two Yubari King Melons, the most sought after variety in the world. The tasty cantaloupe stunned the crowd by selling for 3 million Yen, which is almost $30,000. That beat the previous cantaloupe sales record of 2.5 million Yen, set back in 2008.