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Black Thunder Chocolate

Black Thunder (ブラックサンダー Burakku Sandā) is a chocolate bar made and sold in Japan by the Yuraku Confectionery Company. It contains a cocoa-flavored cookie bar mixed with Japanese-style rice puffs, coated with chocolate. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is 30 yen, before tax. The main advertising slogan translates to “Delicious taste in a flash of lightning!” The story of the Yuraku Confectionery Company and its Black Thunder bar has been treated in the Japanese business press as something of a modern-day rags to riches story.

The Black Thunder bar was conceived as an easily marketable candy bar with three popular components and a reasonable price. The name was partially inspired by the Japanese god of thunder. Black Thunder bars were first made in a factory in the city of Toyohashi in 1994. The target demographic was university students in the Kantō region and sales growth depended mostly on word-of-mouthrecommendations. Through a series of marketing deals starting in 2004, sales of Black Thunder gradually climbed. In 2008, the Yuraku Confectionery company sponsored the Men’s Gymnastics team at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and brand recognition correspondingly increased.

Starting in 2008, Yuraku Confectionery company began developing and marketing variations on the Black Thunder bar. Similar products in the same line include the Big Thunder, Black Thunder Mini-bar, “White Black Thunder”, and the Morning Thunder breakfast bar. In 2009, Yuraku began collaborative efforts with other agencies to develop related products inspired by the Black Thunder candy bar.

The original concept was a candy bar that would have three main components, a heavy texture, rich flavor, and a reasonable price; the combination of these qualities would ensure that it would be an easily marketable product. It was later decided it should be appealing to as many demographic groups as possible, including children. A candy bar was developed with a dark cocoa-flavored cookie pieces mixed with Japanese-style crisped rice, and finally coated with dark milk chocolate. The cookie bar is pressed relatively flat on five sides; however, the top of the bar presents an uneven surface, even with the chocolate coating. When it came to a name for the product, it was decided that the keyword should be the color “black”, which would allude to the dark chocolate flavor. This is in keeping with other marketing trends in Japan, where the color “black” is associated with dark or bittersweet chocolate, such as the popular Meiji Black chocolate bar. To give the product some “impact” with consumers, it was decided to name it after the Japanese god of thunder, Raijin. Although the name of the product uses the English words “Black Thunder” (pronounced or transliterated as Burakku Sandah), the outer package also carries the Japanese kanji term for the product in a smaller font (黒い雷神kuroi raijin), so that the meaning would not be lost on consumers. An advertising slogan recorded from the development period translates to, “Delicious taste like a flash of lightning!” (おいしさイナズマ級!Oishisa Inazuma-kyū!), but was initially rejected in favor of the basic one-line descriptive “Black cocoa crunch”.


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