There are plenty of charaben or deco-ben (decorated bento) contests in Japan to keep bento bloggers and others busy. They’re usually sponsored by a company that makes something related, such as readymade frozen food products that can be used for bentos (Ajinomoto), character goods (Sanrio), and so on. The deco-meal concept is being extended beyond bentos though, as evidenced by the current contest sponsored by Nippon Ham, a major maker of processed food products, including ham. (They also own a baseball team called the Nippon Ham Fighters, which invariably makes English speakers giggle because they think the split occurs between Nippon and Ham, making the team members Ham Fighters. That’s not the case as you can see. But anyway.)
Their current contest, whose finalists you can check out here, is for “Deco-Salad” (decorative salads) using their processed ham products. Many of the finalists feature the Nippon Ham mascot character Hamrins (it’s a pink hamster…ham…get it?), and use those bright pink ham products on creations like potato salad molded to look like a birthday cake, a ramen salad, and so on. What people can do with ham and other pink processed meat products, not to mention other foods like egg and mayonnaise, is just mind-boggling.
If you’re into decorative ham, the finalists as well as all the other entries are sure to give you tons of ideas. You can cast your vote for the winning salad from the finalists page until February 28th.
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