“Heinz Beanz”, originally “Heinz Baked Beans”, are a staple of any Brit’s diet. From school dinners to late night snacks, they’ve become a distinct part of Britain’s culture and it’s cuisine. But unlike Jordan’s Fruit Muesli, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and Lee and Perry’s Worcestershire Sauce, baked beans have yet to make it to the shelves of Hiroshima’s import shops. If you google “Japan Baked Beans”, you’ll witness a plethora of panicked British expats across Japan in the process of going “cold turkey”. One particular post being from a person desperately searching for shops that can cater a 7-day-a-week supply. He/she must really love his beans……It’s not me if you’re wondering.
Heinz Baked Beans date back to 1901 when they were first sold at Fortnum & Mason’s department store in London. The first UK-based factory was eventually opened in 1905. Heinz immediately cornered the market, and have been the best selling tin of baked beans ever since. Their “creative” team occasionally offer a number of different, sometimes questionable, choices of flavour variations such as Peri Peri, Curry and Cheese. I recall they released a “Baked Beans Pizza” too.
Yet even with it’s presence in the States and back home, they’ve yet to find a market in Japan. Sure, Japan has beans. A plethora of bean-related cuisine in fact. Whether sweetened and stuffed in a bun, or fermented and placed on rice, Japan doesn’t mess around when it comes to beans. But the idea of “baked beans in tomato sauce” is distinctly absent. My favourite Japanese comedy duo “Sandwich Man” did a one-off show in London. Whilst there, they indulged in a “Full English Breakfast” but were confused by the addition of beans. My girlfriend tried them too, and was similarly confused. I guess Japanese people fail to understand the unbridled pleasure found in the simplicity of a plate of baked beans.
I’ve searched around, and I’ve found knockoff or alternatives at supermarkets and shops. But when you’ve been brought up on a specific brand for so long, there’s little satisfaction in trying to accept the inferior version. We British people like simplicity and consistency. If there’s any variation of the norm, then we’re quick to complain about it. Reduce the amount of raisins and nuts in Dairy Milk chocolate or change the design of Wine Gums, and “we’ll kick up a fuss”. So it has to be Heinz Beanz or nothing.