Christmas season is here, and I love picking gifts for my friends overseas this time of year. Many of my friends love getting Japanese presents, but this one is an all-time favorite from many of them: the Yoku Moku signature butter cigar cookies. They are light and delicate rolled cookies from Japanese confectioner Yoku Moku. These vanilla-flavoured butter cookies that crumble and melt in your mouth are unstoppable once you eat them. They use the maximum amount of butter they possibly can in a cookie to keep its form. While many cookies are made with lots of flour, the Yoku Moku cigar cookies are made from butter, white egg, sugar, and flour in order of the most ingredients. Since the butter-filled dough is fragile when baked, Yoku Moku rolled it to a cigar-like form to give it more intensity. It requires a golden-balance recipe to create this light, melt-in-the-mouth delight. When the cigar cookies were born in 1969, it was considered impossible to use lots of butter in cookies for mass production, and other confectionary makers used flour as the base and mixed it with margarine and shortening. However, the founder, Norikazu Fujinawa had a strong passion. He wanted to “make” cookies, not “manufacture” them. After many trials and errors, they finally came up with a golden balance, and the cookies were rolled one by one by hand. Now, they use a special baking machine to roll the cookies, but the recipe has not changed to this day – the cigar cookies have been a long seller for almost 50 years.
It’s not just the cookies that makes the Yoku Moku brand a long time local favorite. Their beautiful tin boxes are also very popular among Tokyo locals. The signature tins are blue with a modern design, and many people have kept the tins to store things. Many have very fond memories in association with the tins, and Yoku Moku held a “Fond Memory Contest” this year, asking people to share their memories about the Yoku Moku tin boxes. Please let me share with you an episode from the winner of the contest:
I have a two year old child. He always brings home lots of drawings from his pre-school. What only looks like a scribble, he tells me “it’s a shovel!” or “this one is a frog!” with sparkles in his eyes. Each drawing has become my treasure.
When I went to my mother’s house and told this story, my mother went to her closet and started to look for something. What she brought out was a tin box from Yoku Moku. Inside, there were many, many drawings from when I was little. On one of them, there was a scribble, just like my son’s, and next to it, in my mother’s handwriting it said “beautiful butterfly! good job!”
She told me that the Yoku Moku tin box was her treasure box.
Just like my mother, I want to fill my Yoku Moku tin box with treasures, and keep filling it with precious memories until my son grows up. I look forward to opening it up with him one day.
It’s such a lovely story, I filled up with tears reading this!
During the Christmas season, the tin boxes have cute, festive designs. My own mother has kept these festive tin boxes to keep Christmas ornaments in, and she has handed them down to me this year. I hope to pass it down to my own children when they grow up!
The design of the Christmas tin boxes changes each year, and the tin boxes are filled not only with the signature cigar cookies but with other delicious cookies including the chocolate cream sandwich cookies that I also love very much.
The cookies have become extremely popular and you can find Yoku Moku stores in most department stores in Japan, and around the world. Yoku Moku now operates worldwide, and they have shops all over the U.S., Thai, Hong Kong, and many countries in the Middle East. However, exclusively at the Aoyama Store, they have a special souvenir design that depicts the four seasons in Japan. It will make a great souvenir for friends and family back home.
We hope the cookies will make Holiday gatherings merrier, and that the tin boxes will be full of memories!
Yoku Moku Website (English)
Address: 5-2-2 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku Tokyo
Telephone ： 03-5485-3330(SHOP)