Would You Wait 43 Years For One Dish?

A butcher shop in Japan has a long, long waiting list for its croquettes.

I don't mind waiting in lines to pick up my food, or pre-ordering cool stuff months before it comes out. But CNN reports that there's a specialty butcher shop in western Japan's Hyogo prefecture that has quite the waiting list to try one of its products, and you're never going to believe how long they expect your order to take. Not weeks, months, or even years—think decades.

These beef croquettes have a 43-year-long waitlist

If you order beef croquettes from Asahiya, the aforementioned family-run Japanese butcher shop, you'll have to wait 43 years before you'll be able to enjoy them. Yep, you read that correctly: 43 years.

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Out of all the foods in the world that would have a waitlist that's over four decades long, I'm not sure you would have guessed it'd be croquettes. And the strangest thing about this deal is that Asahiya doesn't earn any money for the business. In fact, the croquettes lose the shop money.

What are croquettes?

Croquettes are deep-fried rolls with an interior filling ranging from cheese to seafood to vegetables to meat. In the case of these prized Asahiya croquettes, the filling is premium Kobe beef. The meat is mixed with a binder of mashed potatoes and is then shaped, breaded, and deep-fried.

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Croquettes are particularly popular in Japan, where they're called korokke. They're available pretty much everywhere, most commonly eaten as a snack.

Why these croquettes have a 43-year-long waiting list

The "Extreme Croquettes," as Asahiya calls them, are made of A5 Wagyu beef raised by farmers whom the shop owners know personally, along with locally sourced potatoes. When the family store began selling products online in 1999, it decided to try something risky by creating these Extreme Croquettes and selling them for 270 Japanese yen, or about $1.80 per piece.

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The thing is, each croquette was way more expensive than $1.80 to produce. Shigeru Nitta, third-generation owner of Asahiya, told CNN in a former interview that "The beef in them alone costs about JPY400 ($2.70) per piece."

So, why price them so cheaply? The idea was to draw people in to sample Asahiya's high-end beef at an affordable cost, then hope they're interested in purchasing other items. This is known as the loss leader approach, like Costco's $1.50 hot dog and drink deal.

In 2024, the price of the Extreme Croquettes is still good: a box of five will run you 2,700 yen, or around $18.20 ($3.64 each), but they only ship domestically within Japan. Customers who are now receiving their orders placed them about 10 years ago, with 63,000 more in the queue as of this month. Deliveries are confirmed a week before they go out, and if customers can't be contacted via email, the staff calls them instead to inform them of their delivery dates.

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About half the people who order the Extreme Croquettes do end up buying Kobe beef from the store, so this leap of faith has paid off for Asahiya. The shop sells three additional types of croquettes, and the waitlist isn't nearly as long for those. The Premier Kobe Beef Croquettes, for example, will only take four years to get to you. That's practically the blink of an eye. 

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