If you're interested in Japan, chances are you've heard of melonpan. The delicious, round pastries are often mentioned as a favorite sweet by visitors and residents alike, and one of the foods that they miss once they've left. Very similar to Mexican conchas or pineapple buns in Hong Kong, these pastries are made from enriched dough and covered in a thin layer of crisp cookie dough with a bumpy texture vaguely reminiscent of the crackling seen on some varieties of melon, hence the name.

Melonpan waiting to be purchased in a Japanese bakery. | Sakurai Midori / CC BY-SA 2.1 JP

However, since it's been around for at least a century, there have been ample opportunities, throughout the years, for bakers and pastry chefs to tweak the formula. We've even seen things like giant melonpan and even melonpan used as facemasks during the pandemic.

Japanese illustrator 前川さなえ Sanae Maekawa (artist name ぷにんぷ_さな Puninpu_Sana), creator of heartwarming manga based on her own experience raising two children, also seems to be a fan of "alternative" melonpan. As you'll soon realize when you visit her blog "クリママ! Creative Mama," she enjoys making sweets and often posts the tasty-looking results, including a batch of melonpan that really stand out from the crowd.

Instead of the bumpy texture typical of the standard variety, the melonpan that came out of her oven had a recognizable character motif which made them kawaii!

As you can see from the image she posted on her Twitter account (@puninpu), the melonpan she baked featured adorable white and brown bears looking very much like teddy bears seated with outstretched arms:

Reproduced with permission from 前川さなえ Sanae Maekawa (@puninpu)

"I baked some melonpan chock-full of cute bears"

She posted more pictures which let you appreciate her adorable melonpan on her blog "クリママ! Creative Mama":

Source: "クリママ! Creative Mama, reproduced with permission from 前川さなえ Sanae Maekawa (@puninpu)

She also explains that she referred to the cooking book メロンパンdeコッタ melonpan dekotta by 花田えりこ Eriko Hanada when she baked the batch.

Her Tweet quickly went viral, and has garnered nearly 270,000 likes and over 38,700 retweets at the time of writing.

The impactful melonpan elicited many reactions such as:

  • "They're so cute and look so tasty. I want to eat one! (...)"
  • "What a wonderful idea! It's cute! I imagine you can try it with cookie cream puffs too."
  • "The bear on the one at the top right looks like it's trying to escape lol"

To see more images of Puninpu_Sana's sweets, and for those who can read Japanese, enjoy her journal entries, you can visit her side blog "クリママ! Creative Mama" here or her main blog "ぷにんぷファミリー Puninpu Family" here. You'll also find her list of publications here if you're interested in her manga and other writing.

By - Ben K.