The Story Behind The Iconic Soy Sauce Bottle That Hasn't Changed In Over 50 Years

You probably take it for granted while dining on sushi or dumplings, but that iconic Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser has been in production since 1961. And as the New York Times discovered, it was actually developed by a Japanese Navy sailor who dedicated his life to design when he left the service.

As the story goes, Kenji Ekuan's younger sister was killed by the Hiroshima atomic blast, while radiation sickness took his father's life a year later. And after seeing the devastation left by the bomb while riding the train home one day, he decided to dedicate his life to making and designing things. Over his 60 year career he was responsible for many recognisable designs, but none more ubiquitous or iconic than the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle.

Its unique shape took three years and over a hundred prototypes to perfect, but the teardrop design and dripless spout have become a staple of restaurant condiments all around the world. Over 300 million of the bottles have been sold since the design was first introduced, and besides the occasional special edition versions to commemorate anniversaries and other occasions, the bottle's design hasn't changed over the past 50 years. So the next time you're drowning a California roll, stop and remember that you're also enjoying a piece of history with your meal. [New York Times]

Image: Creative Tools/Wikipedia


    Is there another chapter to the story? Explain WHY he chose the design, HOW he came up with the design, you covered WHO, WHAT and WHEN pretty well...

    "Over his 60 year career he was responsible for many recognizable designs," could have been a bit more on this part of the story, maybe a few other items he designed, even if not recognizable to us in the west the Asian readers would have been interested ( quantified statement of course, I'm not Asian except in a geographic type of way).

    Really does seem like the author got bored with writing about a quarter way in.

    There is a thing called school. Another called university. Most people go to one or both and do all their learning and then stop. Others go to learn how to learn. Their journey never ends.

    Here's a suggestion. Learn how to learn and stop complaining about not having your entire world served on a platter.

      I want to +1 this, but then I realise that it's a contradictory statement. We are reading this article to learn about the bottle and we aren't presented with all the information. So no +1 for you Mr high horse.

      Would you like me to get a sugar cube for that giant high-horse of yours?

    Not that hard to click the link to the full NYT article, you guys. (It's a pretty great read too, FWIW)

      "great read" seems like a bit of a stretch.

    Geez, there's a lot of complaining about this article. In a sense, the author should be flattered that the article has provoked more questions. But seriously, it's not his job to do a bio on the person or every stage of the design, or what else he designed, or what his favourite food is to eat with soy sauce. Use the links. Use a search engine. Try something different from being spoon fed.

      Except that the title says that the article is the story behind the bottle. If the title was "The name of the guy who invented the soy sauce bottle and how his family died" people wouldn't be so let down.

    It's a blog people - follow the link.

      People are getting way too lazy it seems.
      If EVERY single bit of info is no readily available right there in front of them, they'll just sit and complain instead of doing a little of their own research.
      Like you say, this is a blog, not a knowledge depository.

    As a History lesson, i present you with this:

    bunch of bloody whingers. write your own darn articles.

    i didn't know the bottle had been around for fiddy years. that's rad. i love that bottle. hope they never change it.

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