These Japanese beef croquettes have become so popular that there is currently a staggering 43-year waitlist for eager customers.

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If you decide to order a box of frozen Kobe beef croquettes from Asahiya, a family-run butcher shop located in Takasago City, in western Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, you’ll need to exercise patience as your order won’t be fulfilled for another 43 years. No, that’s not a typo – it’s a four-decade wait.

Established in 1926, Asahiya initially specialized in selling meat products from Hyogo Prefecture, including the renowned Kobe beef. It wasn’t until the post-WWII years that they introduced beef croquettes to their repertoire. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that these deep-fried potato and beef dumplings gained widespread internet fame, resulting in the astonishingly long waitlist that buyers face today.

In a 2022 interview with CNN Travel, Shigeru Nitta, the third-generation owner of Asahiya, disclosed that, at that time, the wait for the croquettes was a “mere” 30 years.

The coveted “Extreme Croquettes” are just one of four types of Kobe beef croquettes offered by Asahiya. For those unwilling to wait nearly four decades, the shop’s Premier Kobe Beef Croquettes have a more manageable four-year waitlist.

Asahiya began its foray into online shopping in 1999, initially offering Extreme Croquettes as a trial. To attract customers, Nitta took a bold step by selling them at a remarkably low price of JPY270 ($1.80) per piece, even though the beef alone cost about JPY400 ($2.70) per piece. This strategy aimed to allow customers to enjoy the croquettes and, hopefully, entice them to purchase Kobe beef after their first try.

Despite the initial financial risks, Asahiya limited production to 200 croquettes per week from their own kitchen next to the shop. The shop has a longstanding commitment to selling only locally produced meat from Hyogo Prefecture, whether it’s Kobe beef, Kobe pork, or Tajima chicken.

The popularity of the “Extreme Croquettes” soared, prompting a temporary halt in sales in 2016 due to a 14-year waiting period. However, overwhelming demand led to the resumption of orders in 2017, albeit with a price increase.

Production increased from 200 croquettes a week to 200 per day, with the Extreme Croquettes outshining other products. While the financial aspect remains challenging, Nitta mentioned that about half of the customers who try the croquettes end up ordering Kobe beef, making it a sound marketing strategy.

A box of Extreme Croquettes, consisting of five pieces, is sold for JPY2,700 ($18.20). As of January 2024, there are approximately 63,000 people in the waitlist, and orders placed a decade ago are now being fulfilled.

Despite the stress associated with fulfilling a 40-plus-year list of unprofitable orders, Nitta is motivated by the impact on people’s lives. He shared stories of customers who found motivation in the croquettes during challenging times, including a cancer patient who considered them a source of inspiration before surgery.

By allowing more people to enjoy Kobe beef, Nitta hopes that the fame of these croquettes will contribute to promoting the local industry. Asahiya now has two locations, their original store in Takasago City and a shop in Kobe City, and ships frozen beef croquettes domestically. Travelers can also visit their Kobe shop to purchase two types of ready-to-eat takeaway snacks, named “Tor Road” and “Kitanozaka” croquettes, using lean beef and priced at JPY360 ($2.40) and JPY460 ($3.10) each, respectively.

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