Mochi is a cake made by pounding (or agitating, as seen in this video) cooked rice. In Japan, it's a tradition to eat mochi as a way to ring in the new year. But almost every year, a few people choke to death eating the sticky cakes. This year two octogenarians died and four were hospitalized when mochi cakes got lodged in their throats.
Choking on mochi — the sticky, sweet traditional delicacy served to celebrate the new year — is so common that the Tokyo Police Department has a website offering tips on how to help someone who has the food lodged in their throat.
Authorities annually warn people to cut the sticky rice cakes into smaller pieces to make them easier to chew, especially for the elderly and children. People are also advised to eat the treats slowly.
Despite public warnings, the treats made of pounded, steamed rice have caused suffocation deaths nearly every year, especially among elderly people. In 2015, nine people were believed to have died taking part in the annual culinary tradition.