Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Botan Rice Candy

I have my favorite candies, and I’ve been pretty faithful to them over the years. But there’s always this longing to experience new candies and how different cultures, countries and regions express their love of sweets. That’s part of the reason for Candy Blog, to help everyone overcome that fear of the new and different and embrace the new and different.

This is a story about my first “exotic” candy.

Sometime when I was a kid in grade school I was given Botan Rice Candy. I know I’d been exposed to foreign candy already (Torrones, Toblerone & other European chocolates), but this one was exotic because of the pictures on the box and that it had no associations with a holiday at all. It’s possible I had it at school as an observance of Lunar New Year, or just a show & tell from another child whose parents bought a box for them to bring into class. It came in a simple little box that’s pretty much unchanged today. At one end of the box was a little compartment that contained a little toy, like you would also get in Cracker Jacks back in the day. In the other 3/4 of the box were little cellophane wrapped jelly candies.

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Things have changed a little since then. There is no longer a little toy in the box, but now a “Free Children’s Sticker” instead. But I guess this leaves more room for candy.

The candies are little cubes of jelly with a mild orange/lemon flavor wrapped twice. Though it seems like it’s not that different from those sugar encrusted jelly orange slices, these are less flashy. And this is what’s important about the Botan Rice Candy - the inner wrapper is edible. It looks like a slightly clouded cellophane, but it’s really made from rice and will dissolve in your mouth. (I was also fascinated with this ‘edible’ packaging in the classic Torrone as well, which have a starch wafer to keep them from sticking.)

What could be better for a kid looking to expand her horizons? A candy you could show to your friends and freak them out when you eat the plastic wrap plus a little toy!

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Sometimes I like to pick the inner wrapper off as completely as I can. For no real reason of course. It’s not like it’s tasty. It’s kind of gooey, starts sticky and then becomes slippery on the tongue. Later when I had sake for the first time, it reminded me of yeasty rice candy wrappers. (Not really in a good way either, I don’t care for sake at all.)

As a candy, Botan Rice Candy is okay. It’s sweet and mild, though a little sticky sometimes. It has some of the barley sugar or millet jelly taste that I like, but the real appeal has to be the edible wrapper. There’s not much in the box either, at 3/4 of an ounce, there are only six pieces in there. With import costs, it’s usually about a dollar a box, even down in Chinatown where everything is cheap.

I went poking around the ‘net to see what else is out there and found another brand that also features the rice wrapper but looks like it could be of higher quality.

My box came with a sticker of a giraffe. Here’s a nice article that shows some other stickers. Other Reviews: Candy Addict & Junk Food Blog.

So, what was your first experience with Botan Rice Candy?

UPDATE: Several folks have mentioned White Rabbit in the comments since it also has an edible inner wrapper, here’s my review on that.

Name: Botan Rice Candy
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: JFC International Inc
Place Purchased: Imperial Dragon (Chinatown)
Price: $.99
Size: .75 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Jelly, Japan

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:42 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. I actually gave my daughter a pack of BRC for Christmas! She loves it (so do I).

    brian

    Comment by Brian on 12/27/06 at 8:47 am #
  2. I spent my early childhood living in La Canada (tilda over the n!), across the street from Descanso Gardens.  We would frequently take walks through the gardens, and if I was very lucky we would stop at the Tea House and buy Botan Rice Candy.

    To this day, the candy reminds me of walks through Descanso Gardens.

    Comment by Lesley on 12/27/06 at 8:58 am #
  3. When I was in college in Albuquerque, a friend of mine brought me a box and showed me how to eat it, because the whole wrapper business is confusing. I <3 it.

    Comment by eliza on 12/27/06 at 9:14 am #
  4. Mm, edible wrappers. There’s another one I loved when I was a kid. It was milk candy called White Rabbit.

    Comment by Lynn on 12/27/06 at 11:48 am #
  5. I’ve never had Botan myself, but White Rabbit has always been my rice paper candy of choice.
    By the way, I’ve read somewhere that the rice paper we eat is not actually made of rice. Apparently, it’s actually composed of fibers from mulberry tree bark.

    Comment by Jitterro on 12/27/06 at 11:59 am #
  6. As a child, I spent 2 yrs. in Japan and my siblings and I tried lots of Japanese candies. The Botan Rice Candy was one I remember. When we were back in the States I brought some to share with my classmates because of the edible rice paper. I have fond memories of all those Japanese candies. I can buy the Botan Rice and Pocky at our local Wal-mart.

    Comment by Suzanne on 12/27/06 at 12:47 pm #
  7. My first experience was when I was in the Japanese section of Epcot,Walt Disney World when I was in middle school. My aunt had taken my sisters and I into the gift shop and showed us this cool candy where you could eat the wrapper. We found it so cool and really tasty. I was so excited to find it years later at my local asian mart. Yummy stuff. It always brings a smile to my face. smile

    Comment by Sera on 12/27/06 at 4:36 pm #
  8. we have a brand called “tomoe ame” in Hawaii. I loved this candy! especially the prizes, they used be plastic toys, now with cost cuts they’ve switched to stickers or tattoo seals.

    Comment by Kat on 12/27/06 at 5:44 pm #
  9. I used to love Botan rice candy when I was a kid in NYC and I can still get it here in Canada, though you have to sort of hunt around for it. I’ve always loved almost any Japanese candy going except the Meiji fruit drops, not sure why. I don’t recall the toys in Botan though I first had it in the late 1970s - it was always stickers in the ones I had.

    Comment by Lidian on 12/28/06 at 6:51 am #
  10. growing up I took Ju-jitsu at the YMCA on Sawtelle in Los Angeles, and every other day after class I would go down the street to the neighborhood store (Japanese-owned) and buy Botan rice candy.  I think I got dragged there by one of my classmates the first time, but afterward it became habit. I loved the little toy, and I think back then the outer wrapper wasn’t twisty but folded (but I could be wrong. I’m not even sure there was an outer wrapper..this was back in the early 70s).

    last time I bought it a couple of weeks ago I got a temporary tattoo instead of a sticker. but the danged thing wasn’t so temporary: still going strong two weeks later!

    Comment by cynsa on 12/28/06 at 10:35 am #
  11. When I lived in Denver in the 70’s there was a shop on Colfax called Madam Butterfly that sold all sorts of Japanese toys and foods. My friend intoduced me to Botan Rice Candy and I loved the little toys that came in the box. The stickers they put in it now seem a bit cheap. The candy is good, but pricey for only six pieces.

    Comment by Sarah on 12/28/06 at 1:28 pm #
  12. My husband lived in Thailand for 2 years as a young child, then Korea another 2 years as a teenager (his dad was in the military). He came to know and love Botan Rice Candy in one of those countries. At some point after we got married, we were wandering around in an Asian grocery and he found them and delightfully shared them with me. Our kids enjoy them too - more for the dissolving wrapper than anything else! Whenever they share them with friends, that’s the part they mention first.

    Comment by Tricia on 12/28/06 at 3:49 pm #
  13. Love these - especially the wrapper!  What are the nutrition stats on those?  Growing up as an Asian kid, this is a junk food staple, along with prawn crackers and pocky sticks.

    Comment by Pete on 12/28/06 at 4:43 pm #
  14. Have you tried White Rabbit Candy before? It also has an edible rice paper but also, novelty-value aside, tastes nice.

    Comment by Victoria on 12/28/06 at 8:41 pm #
  15. Living in the South Bay with its high Asian population, the stuff was pretty easy to find and wasn’t uncommon as an occasional treat.  I was exposed to it pretty young; my dad would get it at the grocery store.  For a while, I didn’t believe him that you could eat the inner wrapper.  For a while, I ate the wrapper, but then, for a period of time, didn’t like it and picked it off whenever I ate it.  I haven’t had the stuff in years (though I still have access to it.)

    Comment by Alex on 12/28/06 at 9:02 pm #
  16. i LOVED botan rice candy with a passion when i was a kid!  okay, i still do.  i used to collect the silly little toys - plastic pigs, frogs, and other inane objects. 

    ahh, the memories.  and today, my kid loves ‘em too.

    Comment by jenny on 12/30/06 at 1:59 pm #
  17. When I was twelve or thirteen, the woman next door to me (Mrs. Mukai) taught me Japanese.  She gave me and my brother a box each.  It doesn’t have enough taste for me to actually like it, but I still eat them because they remind me of her.

    Comment by Sophia on 12/31/06 at 6:35 pm #
  18. I adore Botan Rice Candy.  I seem to remember getting it occasionally in Denver where I grew up, but more often I got it when we went back to the home town of Seattle.  To this day I still pick up several boxes at Uwajimaya whenever I visit Seattle (and actually just got four boxes over the holidays at the Pacific Ocean Market in Broomfield, CO).

    Comment by Pwaully on 1/02/07 at 6:18 pm #
  19. What a zap from the past.  I just bought a box of Turkish Delight from Williams and Sonoma, this weekend, and the consistency reminded me of the Bontan Rice Paper Candy that I used to eat during my childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  My parents would take my brother, sister and I to Chinatown for dinner and we’d buy this candy in small food/novelty stores boxes at a time.  We couldn’t get enough.  I was just scrolling around online to see if there was any place that I could find this candy again though I had forgotten the name of the actual company.  I’m so excited…...age 44, obviously no longer a kid…...but going to buy a case of this stuff if I can and introduce it to my 14 yr. old son.

    Comment by Pam King on 2/27/07 at 3:47 pm #
  20. I love Botan Rice Candy!  Mmmm

    Comment by Renee on 6/18/07 at 1:11 pm #
  21. My father was in the Air Force and we lived on Hickam AFB in Hawaii for three years when I was 6-9 years old.  I used to buy this candy all the time with my allowance.  Loved it!

    Comment by DONNA JACOB on 9/11/07 at 7:04 pm #
  22. I love, love, love Botan Rice candy. First had it as a kid in Denver in the early 80s. Four years ago we moved to Japan for two years. It took me a while to find Botan Rice candy. I couldn’t find what we have here in the States, but I did find Bontan Ame, which is what you have linked to in your article—“the other brand of higher quality.”  It is higher quality and you generally get more in a box. Thanks for the link! I’ve been relying on friends in Japan sending me some every so often!

    Comment by Sam on 9/19/07 at 8:49 am #
  23. Since we moved to this small town from a bigger city, my family takes trips to St. Louis to find food items that we can’t get anymore (nobody here seems to like anything adventurous foodwise…) My sisters and I found Botan Rice Candy a few years ago, and every time we go back to the store we just have to buy a few boxes! Usually the little shops we go to sell the boxes for 99 cents, but we found one or two places that sell them for only 69.
      Yan-Yans (little bread sticks with chocolate or strawberry flavored cream dip) and Fusen gum are also some of our favorite things to stock up on (the gum comes in melon, grape, green apple, peace, orange, strawberry, and…frog?) The inside of the ‘frog’ wrapper has a weird little tattoo on it. Last time it was a picture of an evil-looking mushroom guy running and flailing his…tentacles? Lol!

    Comment by Amanda on 9/19/07 at 6:09 pm #
  24. weird weird weird

    so i was at disney world on vacation a week ago and hit all the parks (including epcot center…i think someone else who posted above had also found b.r.c. there)
    when i saw the packaging near the cash register, all these li’l memories of st. louis came back to me.

    my family was poor, and these boxes were like a quarter or somethin… so after school i would always stop at the asian food and pick them up.

    its been a good 18 years since i last tasted them, so after purchasing about 10 boxes of the stuff, i am thankin what ever higher power you believe in that they didnt mess with the recipe.

    i am going to take one of these boxes with me to a few of my local asian food markets to see if any of them carry or know where they carry , since i am never directed to the correct item when ive asked in the past.

    upon further inspection of the box, i found the company name and tried to find the u.s. supplier to disney, which eventually brought me here. and
    oddly enough i used to go to school with an amanda in st.louis ...maybe this is the same girl
    it’d be really cool to catch up if it is.
    i have a myspace page (like everyone else and their brothers uncles dog)
    hit me up if ya like. http://www.myspace.com/m1k3_n3wt0n

    to all you other rice candy lovers
    lets try to keep this candy alive…
    give it to your kids, share it with your neighbors, the person on the train or bus next to you… whoever.

    Comment by mike newton on 9/23/07 at 5:59 am #
  25. I am half japanesse and have grown up on Botan Rice Candy. When I was younger we use to call it the candy where you could eat the wrapper. Long name I know. To tell the truth we still call it that. This was a special treat we would get every new years. We would wake up and start the day eating mochi. We would then go to my Gii-Chan (Grandpa) and Baa-Chan’s (Grandma’s) house where we would have a New Years celebration. My mom would give all of us kids a box of the candy and my Gii-Chan would give us each $20. My sister, cousins, and I would all open the box have one or two pieces, then pull the sticker or when I was younger toy out. We would compare “girl toys/ stickers to boy ones and switch with each other until everyone was happy. I still eat them today and whenever I go into Mitsua (It’s a Japanese market) or World’s Market, or some other little Japanese market I always get a box. I have started sharring them resently too. The first time in almost 20 years. They are my favorite cand and I really can’t get enough. Plus it’s fun trying to explain to others that they can eat the wrapper.

    Comment by Kristen on 2/18/08 at 6:06 pm #
  26. I think it tastes wonderful when I was little my mother got those for me I liked them alot.

    Comment by Candy Lover on 6/24/08 at 11:07 am #
  27. Botan Rice Candy is awesome!!!

    Comment by Kevin on 8/13/08 at 3:26 pm #
  28. I was just looking up this candy online I couldn’t remember what it was called. I’m 18 and when I was very little growing up In Hawaii my baby sitter would give these to us and i just remember distinctly the edible wrapper and her telling us stories

    Comment by megan on 11/05/08 at 6:16 pm #
  29. My Grandfather worked for Disney for 25 years, and my first time trying Botan Rice Candy was when my Grandmother would get it from Japan in Epcot. I’ve been totally crazy about it ever since. It’s tasty, and it’s fun! It always makes me smile smile

    Comment by Mindy on 5/27/09 at 11:16 pm #
  30. I used to buy BRC when I lived in Anchorage, Alaska and I have a whole jar of the plastic prizes from the 70’s & 80’s. I stopped buying it when they stopped putting the toys inside, but I do remember that I loved the melting inner wrapper, so I may start buying it again.

    Comment by Linda Donaldson on 6/22/09 at 6:48 am #
  31. i lover botan rice candy i love to collect there stickers

    Comment by dylanthomas on 12/25/09 at 6:57 am #
  32. Thank you for the review! I just found a box of these at a Von’s in Murrieta, California. The flavor is really pleasant and mild. Mine came with a sticker of a mouse playing tennis.

    Comment by Christopher on 2/26/10 at 7:54 pm #
  33. I can remember my father bringing this candy home when I was a child, 35 to 40 years ago. It was a real treat then! I vividly remember the brightly painted carved wooden little toys that were included in each package. The rice paper wrapper that you could eat was a sharp contrast to the chewyness of the candy. I’m ordering some of this candy online since I cannot find it locally anywhere.

    Comment by Trey Slinger on 3/22/10 at 8:39 pm #
  34. I LIKEPIEEEEEE

    Comment by imabananna on 10/03/11 at 9:07 am #
  35. I remember going on weekend shopping sprees with my allowance when I was a pre-teen in Austin, TX. ages ago. My mom would take me to a local Pier 1 Imports shop, where I’d blow my weekly stipend on all sorts of exotic trinkets and souvenirs. Botan Rice Candy was always a favorite, and an essential on my shopping lists whenever I visited a Pier 1 store.

    Comment by Kenneth M. on 3/05/12 at 12:25 pm #
  36. I grew up in the fifties and remember my grandmother giving us tomoe ame.

    The toy back then was usually made from japanese tin cans press molded and painted to be a race car, etc. After the war japan had very little resources and had to recycle many items.

    If you look at the underside of the toy you would see what painted on the original tin can.

    Comment by Wes on 10/15/13 at 7:14 pm #
  37. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I lived in a suburb of Columbus, OH, and on our occasional jaunts to the “big city” we would visit The French Market; a large collection of small specialty stores and restaurants all gathered under one roof, as well as an adjacent open-air market.
    I remember patronizing a small Asian grocery store on each trip that sold these candies, and buying a box to enjoy on the ride home became a tradition. I felt like a world traveler every time I ate one!

    Comment by Wally on 10/16/13 at 6:06 am #
  38. I like how you don’t have to pay alot for alot of candy.

    Comment by izzy butler on 11/26/13 at 9:48 pm #
  39. Let’s see. I was looking for information about candy and bubble-gum wrappers, the proverbs, fortunes, and edible candy rice wrappers when I ran across this site. How lovely. I lived in Anchorage, but didn’t ‘run’ into Botan wrappers until my Japanese husband and I visited Japan Square in Denver, and introduced our son to them in the early ‘80s. We live in the midwest now and there are several Asian grocery stores in this college town, where we’ve lived the past 25 years.

    Over the years, my childrend enjoyed Botan, Haw disk wafers, peanut sembei, prawn crackers, Poky sticks, and even White Rabbit are readily available, along with popular specialties from Korea, India, Thailand, Singapore, and other countries.

    With so much adulterated foods from China nowadays, I no longer purchase White Rabbits, but there is the concern that many JFC foods are made in China and repackaged in Japan. Another option would be if we were able to make these at home.

    In the Japan of my husband’s youth, it was a land of craftsmen, small and family businesses, the lone vendor walking up and down the streets at night calling out at suppertime that he had freshly coal-charred sweet potatoes, roasted chestnuts and mochi, green tea yokan, and sweet bean cakes, one kind like tiny pancakes, doriyaki(? spelling).

    My husband’s uncle us sent handmade Japanese sweets, such as sesame seed biscuits, herb candies, sliced sweet potato fries dusted with powdered sugar.

    Comment by Mrs. Nakajima on 2/01/14 at 11:40 am #
  40. I have to say - though everyone else enjoys this candy for its kitsch factor (the edible wrapper,) I REALLY love this candy for its flavor. Highly underrated. Slightly citrusy but very floral at the same time. Not to sweet. Chewy, but doesn’t stick to your teeth. Slightly melts in your mouth. The mouth feel is excellent… I don’t know. If I could find a way to make these I’d be extremely happy.

    Comment by Alexa on 2/06/14 at 7:29 am #

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