Strange candy is a topic that fascinates me, though I, uh… wish it didn’t. Sugar loads a nice sucker punch to my gut every time I give it a chance, so I try to actively avoid candy. (Candy is bad for you, kids.) Odd flavours of candies, however, notably KitKats in Japan was something I feel a lot of people are curious about, and I’ve always wondered too, so when the opportunity cropped up, I thought I’d tell you what the experience was like! KitKats have such a variety and popularity in Japan because the name sounds like a Japanese word for “winner” or “sure winner”, so are thought to be something of a good luck charm for students.
First thing I noticed is that, compared to Western candy, these were not that sweet at all. Even the ordinary KitKat was far from that saccharine, milky taste they have in the Americas. But the so-called “weird” flavours were delicious.
Some of note were the roasted tea (the one with the cup of tea on the second row) and melon and marscapone (bottom left). The roasted tea has a savory, bitter taste that’s quite rare and unexpected in a piece of candy. It tasted almost grain-like, reminding me strongly of dry noodles with its texture.
The melon and marscapone cheese was, oh, absolutely the best. It was one of the sweeter ones, but again, not in that syrupy way. There was a more natural melon flavour with a cheesy softness afterwards. Just hearing “melon and cheese”, that might not sound like a tasty combination, but believe me, it was! The green tea and wasabi were also interesting, though definitely for more of a bitter pallet. I don’t really see those being popular with children. They seemed like more “mature” flavours to me. The wasabi wasn’t spicy, which is what surprised me the most.
I don’t exactly know what the KitKat with the drawing of people kissing was – I think strawberry shortcake or something to that effect? It was amazingly sour, whatever it was. Like cramming your mouth full of berries. The dark chocolate (the black KitKat near the top) was like eating a chunk of straight cocoa. I could’ve eaten about a thousand of those.
There were some holiday ones that I find strange aren’t sold much outside of Asia, notably the Easter and Halloween, which are more popular holidays in America and Canada than Japan, I thought. The Easter one was banana, the Halloween was I think, butterscotch, despite having a pumpkin on the package, and there was a Valentine’s one I didn’t get to try. The rest of the plain-coloured KitKats were fruit flavours – grape, peach, orange, cherry, and strawberry, and all pretty good.
Some other candies that I tried, that I didn’t get the chance to photograph, were rosebud and wasabi hard candies, one called Tirol which was just a bittersweet caramel, and this almost-disgusting coffee bonbon that had a smiling mochi ball on the package. The coffee bonbon I really enjoyed even though it was overpowering, and on the verge of being gross, but in a way that was tasty? I can’t really explain that, nor do I remember what it was called, sadly. Rosebud candies taste about like you’d imagine – a fistful of flowers to the taste glands. Not bad but kind of difficult to eat more than one at a time because of the pure floweriness. No thorns, thankfully.
If you ever get the chance, if you don’t live in or have never been to Japan, take the opportunity. These were fascinating to try, and a lot better than I thought they’d be, considering all the hype around them.