Sitting at a desk all day makes you hungry.

When that happens, you probably have a go-to. Maybe your building has vending machines, or you have some snacks in your desk, or you have a bodega or 7-11 downstairs. Or maybe you just decide it’s close enough to lunch and get a little fresh air as you walk someplace nearby for a bite.

In 2002, Japanese snack giant Glico rolled out an office product that makes it possible to never leave your desk and still feast on snacks.

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Called simply “Office Glico,” it’s a box about the size of a small filing cabinet that’s filled with Glico snacks. There’s a money collection box on top that’s fitted with a small, open-mouthed cartoon frog. Place a ¥100 coin ($1) in the frog’s mouth, retrieve your selected snack from a drawer, and go about your business. (Photo: CD Japan)

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Snacks range from savory to sweet, and Reuters reports that contents change every three weeks. Items are either restocked or replaced weekly by a workforce of about 500 part-time workers. (Photo: Go!SirDIC!Eat!)

office glico refresh boxes

Glico also offers a premium version stocked with the brand’s more upscale snacks. You pay ¥150 or ¥200 for the privilege, but it’s nice to know you have choices. Reuters says there’s also a version with a fridge and a freezer, so drinks and ice cream are available.

As of August 2014, there are 100,000 Office Glico boxes all over Japan, regularly serving over 1.8 million people. In 2013, the Office Glico program alone sold $44 million worth of snacks. Pocky for everyone!  (Photo: Glico)

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Now, the most interesting part: the coin collection frog doesn’t unlock the drawers below to let you take snacks.

Instead, Office Glico operates on the honor system. According to Reuters, the company has a 95% recovery rate—showing that the honor system is working. 

Who’s buying all these snacks? You might think that it’s everyone who works in an office, but CD Japan’s blog offers interesting cultural insight:

“This may seem strange but many Japanese men feel awkward or shy to buy sweet snacks because there is an idea that sweet snacks are for women and children. So Office Glico targeted the male workers who are hesitant to buy candy in public.”

After a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan in March 2011, Reuters reports that many stranded workers subsisted on Office Glico snacks until they could leave. IT worker Nobuhiro Nagasato said, “We cleared out the boxes that day, since hundreds of us spent the night at the office.”

Currently, Glico plans to expand Office Glico offerings to include breakfast and late-night food items. It also plans to expand to nursing homes, and expects sales growth of about 30 percent within the next three years.

Office Glico is so popular that convenience store chain Family Mart started offering “Office Famima” boxes in 2013. You know you’re a big deal when you have brazen imitators.

[via Reuters, CD Japan]

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