What was once a delicacy for nobles in Japan has now been popularized to reach a wide domestic and international audience. Sushi, a Japanese food of cooked vinegar rice and ingredients such as seafood, egg, and vegetables, has evolved over the centuries to adapt to local tastes.
The types of sushi first introduced in the United States rarely incorporated raw fish, as Americans found consuming raw fish an intimidating or uncomfortable foreign concept. Raw fish was often substituted with assorted cooked items and vegetables. In fact, the California Roll, which consists of cucumber, avocado, and imitation crab meat, was invented in Los Angeles in the 1970s to cater to a mainstream American audience, and marked a significant step forward in sushi culture.
Today fresh prepackaged California Rolls and other sushi types can be found in supermarkets nationwide. Selling prepackaged sushi was a revolutionary concept when it was first introduced to America in the 1980s. Ryuji Ishii, a Japanese accountant, missed the delicacy from home while living in the United States. He hoped to provide mainstream consumers with convenient access to sushi as he had in his native Japan. He founded Advanced Fresh Concepts in 1986, which made possible the distribution of prepackaged sushi in local supermarkets in California.
Advanced Fresh Concepts is one company that popularized sushi by establishing sushi bars at local supermarket chains. The proliferation of its business across the nation, and the extension of its product line to include sushi-related items and sushi-making kits, reflected a movement to enhance the American palate and a Japanese contribution to the overall American experience through foodways.