Saturday, February 13, 2021

San-o Popeye Table Flicker (サンオー パイ テーブル フリッカー)

Nintendo's third president Hiroshi Yamauchi, the great-grandson of company founder Fusajiro Yamauchi, built the company from modestly successful playing card manufacturer to a global entertainment powerhouse, becoming one of the wealthiest people in Japan in the process.

During his fifty year long reign over Nintendo, he was always willing to stick out his neck, try new things and take risks. Many of his bets did pay off, though not all. No success without failure.

One of his unsuccessful, but not less fascinating, business endeavours from the early 1960s was a range of convenience food products, created under the name San-O ("サンオー" or "three Os"). 

Very few of these products have survived to this day. Finding one is a big thing for a collector of vintage Nintendo items.

Two versions of Popeye Flicker by San-O (early 1960s)

Last year I posted about a San-o seasoning product called Popeye Gold Flicker (ポパイ ゴールド フリッカー). Just recently I acquired another version of this Flicker.


This one is called Popeye Table Flicker (ポパイ テーブル フリッカー). The container is the same size as that of Popeye Gold Flicker, but it is made from carton and paper, rather than from tin.

The contents are identical: a seasoning that was used as topping for rice. This container was intended to be used at the diner table, hence the name.

Unfortunately... empty

Unlike the Popeye Gold Flicker tin, Popeye Table Flicker has a top that can be re-closed after use.


Like a number of other San-o products, the American cartoon sailor is used for branding and advertising the product. Popeye wasn't the only character used by San-o; some of their products used Disney figures to attract extra sales. These products clearly were targeted to families with children.


Popeye is a well chosen endorser for this product, given his healthy and strong image. According to the text on the container, Popeye Table Flicker contains vitamins and calcium, as well as spinach!


I am very happy to have found another piece of San-O history. The item that now tops my wish list is a packet of San-O rice. Given that these disappeared from the marketplace about sixty years ago, that will not be an easy task.

San-O Rice advertisement

The search continues!

Previous posts about San-O can be found here and here.

Thank you to tabikougaku for kindly sharing a scan of the leaflet.