Thursday, May 12, 2005
Name: Hi-SOFT Caramel and Milk Caramel
First, I give high marks to Morinaga’s packaging team. Like the Hi-CROWN chocolate, the Hi-SOFT caramel comes in a spiffy hard box, perfect for carrying in a pocket or purse and fun to flip open to share. I’m not sure how many caramel products Morinaga markets, but these are just two I’ve found.
Of the two, I prefer the taste and texture of the yellow box Milk Caramel. Both are soft and chewy without being grainy, but the milky smoothness of the Milk Caramel far outweighs the Hi-SOFT’s keen box. Of course nothing will ever top the happy fat cows that got me started on the Japanese caramels.
In fact, of all the caramels I’ve tasted over the past few months, I like the Milk Caramel best. Looking over the ingredients it has the right mix of sugar and milk products, a dash of salt and something I didn’t expect - tea extract.
Rating: Hi-SOFT - 6 out of 10; Milk Caramel - 8 out of 10
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Name: Pocky (Chocolate)
I love Pocky. Can I just start with that? What a perfect candy. It’s got the savory crunch of a biscuit and the smooth velvety flavor of chocolate.
Opening one of the foil packs I was met with the overwhelming scent of dark chocolate. The sticks were nicely coated (not too much) with chocolate, and leave a little uncoated spot at the bottom where you can hold it without getting chocolately fingers - something they don’t do with chocolate covered pretzels.
The coating is a thin sheath, but because of the richness of the chocolate, it’s the right proportion. The biscuit or pretzel part is bland - it’s not salty nor sweet, but the perfect bit of crunch and crispness for the chocolate.
The portion size is huge. Half the package (250 calories, 90 from fat but only 20 mg of trans fats). I wasn’t able to eat that big of a portion - that’s 22 sticks. I think they’re a great thing to tuck in a lunch bag or to go off on a picnic (provided your pack doesn’t get too hot and they melt and stick together). Easy to snack on, easy to share.
Rating: 9 out of 10
See earlier review of Green Tea Pocky.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
One of the things I forgot to tell you about from my Little Tokyo excursion is Hi-CHEW. I’m guessing it’s the Starburst of Japan. It’s a fruit flavored taffy - white on the outside with a corresponding colored center to the flavor. I tried strawberry. It’s very flavorful and has a good soft chew. However, because they’re made with millet jelly, they have an odd sort of latexy chew to them. It takes some getting used to, but it’s a nice texture.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Name: Sweet Candy (Fruit Drops)
Ya gotta love anything that comes in a swell flask-shaped tin in this day and age.
Made by Meiji, this tin contains, simply put, fruit hard candies. As far as I can tell the flavors are something like lemon, orange, strawberry, grape, pineapple and melon. But there’s also a curious opaque white one that’s peppermint (quite a shock when you’re expecting pineapple). The candies are nicely flavored. Tart but not overly so. The lemon and pineapple are particularly good.
It’s a fun little stocking stuffer or something to keep on your desk. After you’re done, you can even put change in the tin - though the largest coin that will fit through the opening at the top is a quarter (but if you’ve got more money, what are you doing saving it? you should be out buying candy).
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Name: Mousse Pocky (Green Tea)
Pocky is one of those Japanese treats that’s gone mainstream in the States. I’ve seen them at Ralph’s and even some convenience stores. I’d never had them before and I think if I had it to do all over again, I’d start with a more common flavor. However, I’ve got to hand it to the Mitsuwa Marketplace, they had a huge selection. There’s also something known as “Men’s Pocky” which I haven’t quite figured out.
If you’ve never seen them before, Pocky are little cracker/biscuit sticks dipped in something chocolatey or creamy. My choice was Green Tea. The sticks look just like the package promises. Long, unsalted pretzel looking things dipped in a green, creamy coating. You grab them by a small uncoated end for clean fingers.
The coating is like white chocolate flavored with green tea, and it tastes just like room-temperature green tea ice cream. Smooth, delicately flavored with a crisp bite to the cracker inside. They’re definitely addictive and one of the better items I bought on my last Little Tokyo trip. They do have a bit of hydrogenated oils in them (though the main fat is cocoa butter, which is what gives the coating its smooth-meltyness).
I’m eager to try more flavors. The neutrality of the crunchy stick makes it idea for just about anything. Mostly I’m going to see if other varieties don’t have hydrogenated oils.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Name: Chelsea Yogurt Scotch
The Taste of Old Scotland! the candy heralds down the side of the tray inside the calico printed box. What Chelsea has to do with Scotland is beyond me. This is a candy blog, after all, not a geography one.
I’m not sure I know what old Scotland tastes like. But these hard toffees are unlike any other toffee I’ve ever had. First, they’re opaque white and glossy when I unwrapped the piece, unlike the toasty cream color I’m used to.
Putting it in my mouth I found it initially tart. Not in a citrus way, but in the way that yogurt is tart. It’s smooth and creamy, but with a little bite to it.
I found them pleasant, but a little bland. I plan to finish the box, but it’s unlikely I’ll buy yogurt scotch again. However, there is another flavor that I saw at the market, regular butterscotch ... that sounds more my speed.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Name: Super Lemon Candy
Of course I’m a sucker for packaging. How could you resist this sassy lady with her cherry lips and surprised expression heralding “It’s So Wonderful Candy!”
What’s even better are the pictographic description on the back:
And is it ever sour. Taking them out of the individual packet, you’ll find a little round ball, about the size of a marble, distinctly yellow with a powdery dusting on it. Pop it in your mouth and you’re gonna definitely feel that “Oh! Super Candy” feeling. It’s sour. I’m serious. It’s painfully, numbingly sour.
After the salty, toxic waste sourness dissolves away, you’ve got a lemon drop. It’s a good lemon drop, smooth and without too many airgaps. It’s got good essense flavor to it, too. If you like the megasours that have been on the market for years without the novelty that goes with them, this is a solidly good sour lemon ball.
I’m unable to find much about the company that makes it, though it’s a common import and obviously packaged for the overseas market as much of the package is in English.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Name: Asahi Kinu Kokuto
I wasn’t quite sure what these were when I purchased them. I knew they were hard candy and I read over the ingredients, which are: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Brown Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavoring, Caramel Coloring.
As far as I could figure, they were brown sugar drops. They’re better than that, I think they’re black coffee drops. Instead of those creamy drops (Coffee Rio) that are a bit like taffy, these are a smooth if sweet hard candy. Instead of being crackly with little air gaps like regular hard candy, these are dense.
They do have a tangy bit of molasses to them, I’m guessing because of the brown sugar. I have no idea what the flavoring is beyond that. I’ve searched the web for any info on them and I can’t seem to figure out what they’re even supposed to be called in English. The name up there is from the receipt.
If I can find these reliably, I will continue to buy them. They’re in little sealed packets and they last on the tongue for a quite a while without any of those sharp edges you sometimes get when there’s an air bubble in regular hard candies. The real drawback is that they’re rather expensive.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.