French Cheese Sales Go Up After Politician Insults The Brand


The popularity of a certain type of French cheese has soared in Japan after a leading ruling party politician called it “hard and dry” last month. The incident took place in early August when Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a last-ditch effort to persuade him not to dissolve parliament and call snap elections.

Following the evening meeting at Koizumi’s official residence, Mori told reporters that Koizumi had given him only beer and simple snacks while they talked, disregarding long-standing Japanese customs of political hospitality that mandated a more lavish welcome. “He gave me foreign beer and some dried out cheese, so hard you couldn't bite into it,” an obviously miffed Mori said in widely televised remarks, displaying a crumpled beer can and thin slice of orange-brown cheese.

Cheese cognoscenti, however, recognised Mimolette, a firm French cheese whose flavour increases as it ages and hardens. Aficionados say that the harder it gets, the tastier it is, with older cheeses commanding a higher price. Now the scorned cheese is enjoying brisk sales at Japanese gourmet food and department stores, with sales three times as strong as usual. Some more aged varieties have even sold out. “Sales of Mimolette have really taken off,” said a spokeswoman at a downtown Tokyo branch of Takashimaya, a major department store.

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