Festive servings of the pounded, glutinous rice cakes known as mochi have proven devastating once again, as they apparently tend to be around New Year’s celebrations in Japan. (Emoji-savvy texters will recognize mochi as the dango, and the average consumption per year is one kilogram per person.) Nine people have choked and died on the food, and there have been 128 mochi-related hospitalizations in recent days.
Kagami mochi — the specific New Year’s version — are often big enough to sport small oranges on top. And with Japan’s population rapidly aging, there’s the fear that mochi-choking will just keep rising, enough that one company has perfected a “safe” rice-flavored mochi that’s supposed to be easier to swallow.