Monday, November 30, 2009

Kanro Pure Grape Gummy

Grape Pure Gummies

Kanro Pure gummies have been a favorite of mine for a few years now. The lemon flavor got me hooked, and I've liked many other flavors I've tried in the past. My love of sour candy goes back to my childhood, and when combined with Kanro's typically authentic-tasting fruit flavors, the brand has been quite reliable.

A friend of mine from far away came to visit and brought these (and many other treats, reviews to come soon) as part of a late birthday gift. The gummies themselves are heart-shaped and coated in sour sugar, and I find them rather photogenic!

Grape Pure Gummies

When I opened these, the smell of concord grape juice was strong, and although it was a little fake, it didn't smell too much like medicine. The first taste of the gummies is simply sour, followed by grape juice. The balance of the flavors was just about right, not too sour or too strong.

These most reminded me of grape Jolly Ranchers or the better grape popsicles. The texture of the gummy (which, according to the bag, should be like real fruit) was firm and a bit leathery, and the sour sugar was coarse and tart. Whether you chew them up right away or savor them a bit longer, these are tasty gummies.

These have also been reviewed at Pockywatch.


Pure website

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Godiva Halloween Truffles

Godiva Halloween Truffles

What a belated review. Halloween has come and gone but the decent into cold weather indulgence has just begun. It starts with candy at Halloween and seems to end with candy at Easter. In an attempt to pace myself, I started tasting these on Halloween and finished them a few days ago.

I'm no chocolate connoisseur, but it seems like Godiva is overrated. In the US and in Japan (probably other countries, too), Godiva has the reputation with many people of being just about the best chocolate there is. It's tasty, for sure, but not usually worth the money. However, these truffles were so cute that I couldn't resist ($11). The four flavors were Caramel Apple Tombstone, Candy Corn Ghost, Blood Orange Bat, and Death by Chocolate Skull.

Caramel Apple Tombstone

The white chocolate smell was strong, and it was full of runny caramel. The textures were great, but the caramel almost tasted spiked, as if the apple flavor had made it ferment. It was quite tart and fruity, though not specifically apple.

White Chocolate Ghost

The ghost was super cute. The filling was buttery and had a good, thick texture. It tasted more like a buttercream frosting than candy corn, but the white chocolate was very well balanced, and I felt it was some of the best white chocolate I've had.

Orange Chocolate Bat

The bat was kind of cute, except for the hole on it's nose. The flavor was the same kind of orange flavor as a fruit gem. The filling was tasty, if a bit too sweet and greasy. I liked how I could taste the orange zest, and my husband liked this one the best.

Halloween Godiva

Death By Chocolate Skull was by far my favorite to look at--it's gorgeous--but not to eat. It was good, but tasted almost exactly like a Lindt dark chocolate truffle to me, and therefore not really worth the price. Click here to see the inside.

Overall, the set gets a B-.

Here's another take on the set.

Lion Cream Soda Candy


In Japan, the term cream soda refers to melon cream soda. Personally, I am a big fan of melon soda, because there's something very exciting about a neon green beverage (like Ecto Cooler). These candies were purchased for me by my sister, and were made by a company called Lion. I've linked their website at the end of the review, so if you visit, prepare yourself for an onslaught of cute.

As with many imported snacks, there was a large nutrition label pasted over half of the package, so I couldn't really see any of the candy description. The little blurb the front says it's pleasantly creamy, more or less.


The open package had a vague melon aroma, and the candies themselves were individually wrapped and were about the size of a Jolly Rancher. Maybe if I had been able to get the nutrition label off I would have known, but these were fizzy candies! I was pleasantly surprised by the fizziness, and the flavor was exactly like melon soda. If you've never tried it, it tastes like honeydew melon in the same way that Sprite tastes like lemon.

The flavor was fantastic, sour, and bright. The candy wasn't creamy at all, but had a cream filling. However, it was so runny that as soon as there was an opening in the candy shell, it slid right out before I could taste it! The little bit I did sense was very weak, and was drowned out by the melon and the fizziness. It didn't add anything for me, and I would have rather the candy been solid melon soda all the way through. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these if you come across them, just don't expect the pleasant creaminess.


Lion Website

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lotte Matcha Shake Crunky

Matcha Shake Crunky

Sometimes my craving for matcha is so strong that I will pick up a matcha flavor of a snack that I know I don't like. On that note, I present a review of Matcha Shake Crunky. According to the box, it is a limited edition release for this year.

I was amused that this flavor was called "Matcha Shake" and not just matcha, but I chalk it up to the Japanese marketing cycle and its demand for "new" and "different" products. This is not the first matcha Crunky, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but it might be the only "Matcha Shake" Crunky.

Matcha Shake Crunky

The bar smelled of a mild matcha, but the first things I noticed when I took a bite were the crunchy bits. As I remembered, they were bland (just a bit salty) but provided a good texture. The bar had a mild matcha finish and a very sweet aftertaste (common in white chocolate products).

I could definitely taste the green tea flavor, but it was in the background. The sweetness was probably supposed to be the shake element, but I didn't get any milky notes from it. I did like it better than regular Crunky, simply because of the matcha flavor, but it was nothing special.

This bar has also been reviewed by Kelly at Tasty Japan, along with several other flavors of Crunky.


Lotte website

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nestle Smarties


As I've mentioned before, in nearly every country but the United States, Smarties are candy-coated chocolates made by Nestle. Until I was in my 20s, I had never tasted these non-sugar disk Smarties, so this review is probably biased.

Naturally, I can't fight the temptation to compare them to M&Ms. Right away, the different colors of the Smarties appealed to me (pink and purple as standard colors!), and they were also slightly bigger than plain M&Ms.


There wasn't much of a scent (the cardboard smelled stronger than the candy), and the taste immediately reminded me of Halloween chocolate - a blend of candy and chocolate flavors stewing together in a vat. The candy coating seemed to add a sugary flavor, and because it is pretty thick, these were very crunchy.

I was reminded of Cadbury Mini Eggs (the chocolate eggs coated with a spotted candy shell to look like bird eggs) as well, but Smarties are much smaller than those. As a result, the chocolate seemed dominated by the shell. Although I don't think I'd turn these down if they were offered to me, I think I'd prefer plain M&Ms...but that's only if plain M&Ms and Smarties were my only choices.

Check out this head-to-head comparison at Candy Blog.


Nestle website

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nestle Sour Orange KitKat

KitKat Sour Orange

This KitKat has been around for a while and has been reviewed by numerous blogs (Melon Soda, Japanese Snack Reviews, KitKat Addict, Jen's KitKat Blog, just to name a few), but I was still very happy when my sister bought me a bag. It had been a long time since I had tried a Japanese KitKat (not since Ume Soda in August) and I was in a slump.

Sour Orange KitKat

I loved the shiny foil bag, and although the bags of mini KitKats are always a little more expensive, I felt this one would be worth it. I was interested to see how they would live up to the claim of being suppai (sour) orange.

Sour Orange KitKat

The minis were a little melted, but still in tact. The scent was very similar to a Terry's Chocolate Orange, which was one of my favorite special treats from childhood. The milk chocolate had a good sweetness and soft texture (which may have been because they melted a bit), but the sour flavor made these special for me.

It was like there were bits of Tang powder between the layers, and although it wasn't a kick in the face, the orange flavor was surprisingly vibrant and fruity. It reminded me of a chocolate covered fruit gel, only with crunchy wafers. My husband and I both loved them, and they went over well with many of our friends.


KitKat website

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Walkers Roast Chicken Crisps

Roast Chicken Crisps

Normally, I prefer sweet snacks, but occasionally, I do get the craving for something salty and savory. These chips fulfill both of those requirements. They were purchased from the UK import section at Jungle Jim's International Market. When we're in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, my husband and I always try to stop in, and it's always worth it.

As these crisps were imported, they were rather pricey ($0.79 for a 34.5 g bag). There were several flavors available, including prawn, but I went for the roast chicken and my husband got steak and onion. The price tag stopped us from buying more. Walkers is part of Frito-Lay and called Lay's in the US (thanks, Anon). You can see a list of current flavors on the Walkers Wikipedia page.

Roast Chicken Crisps

The chips smelled a little like chicken broth, but as they were flavored with spices and not animal products (the bag says they are suitable for vegetarians), they didn't smell meaty. The taste reminded me of a bouillon cube or the flavor powder from chicken ramen. I was very pleased that they neither tasted nor smelled like dog treats, as savory snacks sometimes do.

The texture of the crisps was good, too. They were neither too thin nor too thick, which gave them a good, fresh crunch. They had a nice level of saltiness and I imagine these would go well with a mild beer. I can't see myself craving this chicken-soup-in-a-chip taste, but they were a nice break from the flavors available in the US.


Walkers website

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trident Strawberry Twist

Trident Strawberry Twist

Sometimes, fruity gum can be overpowering. It takes me back to the days of gigantic mouthfuls of Bubblicious or Bubble Tape, when I didn't mind that my gum started to taste like a rotten banana after a few minutes.

These days, I've developed a taste for fruity gum with a hint of mint, but I still like to venture back to fruit gum every now and then. During one such mood, I bought a three-pack of this Strawberry Twist gum from Target. I'm still not sure what the twist was.

It smelled strongly of tart, sweet, fake strawberry. At first, the gum was very sour on the tongue, but there was an overpowering sweetness that masked the fruit flavor. Once the tart flavor was gone, there was really no point in chewing this gum.

This gum wasn't really bad, but it was so artificially sweet that it was quite a chore for me and my husband to get through the whole three pack. It didn't take long for both of us to become sick of this flavor.

The ladies at Gum Alert also reviewed this gum.


Trident website

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Japanese KitKats on the Radio

Recently on Public Radio International's The World, there was a piece about Japanese KitKats and the Japanese marketing cycle in general. My sister informed me about it, and I wanted to share it, too. Click here to listen. There's also a link to one of the Flickr Japanese KitKat photo groups.