A while back, two great friends of the Candy Girls went on an epic adventure through Japan and kindly asked if there was anything that we'd like them to bring back for us. We immediately thought of you, dear readers, and asked for candy! (That and we really really wanted to try some exotic candies, and we thought this would be an excellent reason to make our friends haul back a bunch of candy from half way around the world for us.)
The assortment of treats that arrived is really more than we could have hoped for. There were multiple tiny boxes shaped like dogs and cats that held untold delights, as well as pretty golden packages and small hard green candies, and, oh, so many things that were so very mysterious and yummy looking!
Since neither of the candy girls actually speak or read Japanese, we had to rely on minimal graphic clues from the packaging to guess what was inside. Let the fun begin!
Lotte Cherry Blossom Flower Gummy Candy
First Impressions: The packaging is very pretty and the graphics seem to infer that there will be gummy, flower shaped candies inside with some sort of soft filling.
Aubrey: Oooh, they smell so good. And the little flower shape is so pretty. Liz: There isn't really any liquid inside, though the upper layer is definitely softer. Aubrey: These are delicious. The inside is just a little squishy and maybe more tart tasting. Liz: The texture of the fine sugar on the outside is awesome. I would absolutely buy these again…if I could. Aubrey: I really like 'em!
Score: It's love! 5 out of 5
Cat and Dog Shaped Boxes (with unknown treasures inside)
First Impressions: Hmmmm. What will be in these? We correctly guessed that they'd be some sort of small hard candy. The cat boxes held pink candies and the dog box had a multi-colored assortment.
Aubrey: I think the pink kind of taste like strawberry Quik. Liz: These are kind of sour at the end. Aubrey: I think the pink are pretty good. But, oh, those multi-colored ones are like a gross, chalky dark chocolate. Liz: Bleh. Aubrey: Well, we've at least learned one thing, and that's that cats taste better than dogs. Or something.
Score: Maybe we accidentally ate cat and dog treats? 1 out of 5
Pop Rocks-type Candy
First Impressions: The package shows two screaming faces with whirly eyes and lightning bolts shooting from their mouths, clearly in some sort of distress. Liz guessed that the red package would taste spicy and that the purple package would be sour. Once we opened the package we saw that there were actually some tiny hard candies that looked like mini sweet tarts mixed in with some candy crystals.
Aubrey: Woah. Well, we were right about the pop rocks. Are these ginger flavored? Sean (guess taster and Westword Systems Manager extraordinaire): It's coke. Aubrey: A-ha! Liz: There is nothing really spicy or sour here. They're good, but the packaging is very misleading. Aubrey: Aaaah, aaaaah. Very poppy. Liz: The purple grape flavor seems to go better with the sweet tarts than the coke flavor did.
Score: Pop Rocks and Sweet Tarts, together at last! 4 out of 5
Green Tea Hard Candy
First Impressions: These are small, hard candies that remind us of the treats offered by local candy maker Hammonds, only instead of an image of a pumpkin or Santa Claus inside, there is a Japanese character in the candy. We correctly guessed that they would be green tea flavored.
Sean: They aren't overly sugary. I like 'em. Aubrey: It's a clean flavor. Not bad. Liz: I think they are kind of bland. William (yet another guest judge since he is a big green tea drinker): Well, the flavor is accurate, but boring. It tastes like sucking on a teabag. Sean: I like that they are such a neutral flavor. I would suck on these instead of a peppermint.
Score: Pleasant, but no "wow" factor. 3 out of 5
Sakuma Ichigo Milk
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First Impressions: These pink, triangular candies come in a multi-colored triangular mylar package that led us to believe they might be cotton candy flavored. But then we noticed an "S" emblazoned on one side of the candy that led us to fear they might taste like Sucrets and be more of a cough-drop type thing than an actual candy. That could just be our American candy bias talking, though.
Aubrey: These are also kind of like strawberry Quik. Liz: There an unusual flavor here. Kind of like strawberry jam on toast. Aubrey: I can see the toast. Or is it a marshmallow flavor? Sean: It's like Cap'n Crunch Berries. Aubrey: Yes! Liz: Woah. Did you bite into it yet? That was surprising. Aubrey: Is there milk in there? It says "Ichigo Milk" on the package. What's an "Ichigo"? A goat? A baby? Aubrey, Liz and Sean quickly google "Ichigo Milk" and find out that "Ichigo" must mean strawberry -- proving the strawberry Quik theory correct -- but for some reason there also seem to be a number of Japanese adult film stars who go by some variation of that name as well. Another mystery to solve…
Score: We're strangely drawn to the milk candies. 3.5 out of 5
-- Aubrey and Liz (and friends)