Gaufre by Kobe Fugetsudo
Gaufres is a sweet cream sandwich with a 7-inch diameter of paper-thin crackers, developed almost 90 years ago.
A crunchy, sweet-smelling lightly baked sandwich wafer with vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cream, Gaufre is a unique sweet born in Japan and has been beloved there for almost 90 years. The delicate sweets are sold by the long-standing store Fugetsudo, in operation since the Edo Period. Kobe Fugetsudo was established as a branch of the Fugetsudo in 1897 in Kobe, a modern city surrounded by the calm Seto Inland Sea and the Rokko Mountains.
According to Kobe Fugetsudo, Gaufre’s original start was in 1926 when customers returning from a trip to the West brought back French cookies and proposed that they try making them in Japan. At the time, pastry chefs were striving to carry out experimental research in the spirit of traditional Japanese sweet making and enterprising Western sweet making. It wasn’t the copying of French baked goods, but trial production and study which fully utilized the advantages of French production to make items suited to the Japanese palate. The result of all this hard work came together when they reached the point of selling the Gaufre in 1927.
Manufacturing methods and equipment in those days were quite different from contemporary ones. The Gaufre, made from two wafers put together in a pair, were baked in the same way as the well-known Kobe specialty “Oo-kawara Senbei”, a tile shape cracker. The machine for baking was about 18.2 cm. (7 in.) in diameter, and the fire bed used charcoal as its primary fuel. The wafers were baked one by one, turned over to do both the back and front. When they were done, each one was handmade into cream sandwiches and finished a pair at a time. It was an unbelievably costly and laborious process, and daily production volume was as much as 800 Gaufres.
Gaufre had an exquisite taste, texture and aroma that were not found in previous sweets, they were esteemed as gifts in the beginning. It took quite a while until it became generally widespread. After several years, sales finally began to pick up, but Gaufre manufacturing had to be stopped because of controls on raw materials due to World War II. Production was not resumed until after the war in 1951, when raw materials could finally be acquired again.
Once Gaufre became widely known in society and began receiving attention from those in the industry, imitation products were beginning to be seen throughout the country. Product protection was impeded by this use of the Gaufre name, and this was also related to an emerging credibility issue due to the circulation of inferior quality products. As a self-defense for the company and a means to continually improve quality, the Gaufre trademark was applied for in 1952 and rights to it were acquired in 1953.
Nearly 90 years have passed since sales of Gaufre began, and in addition to the original flavors of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate cream sandwiches there are now other richly flavored ones such as black tea, green tea and coffee. Also, the “Petit Gaufre” was born in 1962 based on customer request (with the same deliciousness as the Gaufre but a diameter of only about 7.5 cm [3 in.]), and there are limited edition packages (cans) in accordance with the seasons. Gaufres are available in the U.S. on various shopping websites and in Mitsuwa Marketplace.
Originally started as a manufacturer of “wagashi”, Japanese-style confectionary, Kobe Fugetsudo currently makes both Western and Japanese-style sweets.
In addition to the all-time best seller Gaufres, Kobe Fugetsudo offers a variety of confectionaries, including Lespoir (thin waffles), Busse (sponge cake sandwich) and financier.
www.kobe-fugetsudo.co.jp (Japanese only)