In the dizzyingly colorful snacks aisle of any supermarket, one would need to scan the shelves slowly and carefully to spot Mire biscuits. The packaging is basically an understated blue plastic with some red design and a clear window where the coin sized biscuits are visible. Under the name ミレービスケット (Mire biscuit) is the tagline まじめなおかし, "majime na okashi" which means "the earnest snack," or "the serious snack," a line that never fails to make my children laugh.
The packaging appears to have been the same since the Showa Era. Else, the company meant to express by their simple, almost parochial packaging that the star of the show is what's inside the bag and not outside.
I pooh-poohed these biscuits until a friend served them to me with coffee. I could not stop eating. "Take the bag home with you," she said. I did and since then, Mire biscuits have been part of our weekly shopping list.
The ingredients are simple: flour, sugar, shortening, vegetable oil, and natural salt. The dough is cut into the distinct round shape with scalloped edges. Then they are fried in vegetable oil that has been previously used to fry beans (the secret of its unique aroma) at a temperature of 170℃～180℃. Then they are sprinkled with natural salt, poetically described on the packaging as "born of the marriage of sun and wind." This process of making the biscuits remained the same since its birth in 1955.
It is so deceptively simple, yet "simple is best," says Mr. Nomura, owner of Nomura Company that produces these biscuits.
Nomura Shoten was originally a company that produces and sells beans dating back to 1918 (Taisho 12). Mire biscuits were first sold by Meiji. Later, Mitsuyaseika in Nagoya took over the dough production. The dough is still made there, then delivered to Nomura in Kochi for the rest of the production process.
Today, Nomura produces about 12,000 packages of Mire biscuits a day, and there are several varieties including salt caramel, salt lemon, macha, coffee, black sesame among others. Try a bag and you will see for yourself why Mire biscuits are loved by everyone young and old.