Thursday, April 29, 2010

Expensive Candies at Wal-Mart

I won't lie, if I come out of the candy section of a store spending less than $20, I consider that a victory. I'm one of those people who purchases things when something catches their eye. It's a wonder that I haven't strained my credit card with ridiculous things I see on television. One store where I always expect to save a bit more money at is Wal-Mart. I'll maybe save a few cents more at Wal-Mart than I would have at Target. However, I found some items at Wal-Mart that were a bit on the higher end of the price spectrum. When I say higher end of the price spectrum at Wal-Mart, I mean anything $4 or more.

It surprised me quite a bit to find that Wal-Mart was selling small boxes of candy at prices of $4 and more. They still had the big bags of Airheads, Swedish Fish, etc. for reasonable prices, but these more expensive candies intrigued me. I decided to buy two of them to see if they were worth the price. First up there's:

Ever since I purchased sea salt caramels at Nugget in Davis, I've been trying to find them at other places, but unfortunately I was never able to find them. The next best thing was probably Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt. This is why I decided this would be my first choice of pricier candies to buy. At $4 a box, would it be a better purchase than a less expensive big bag of caramel chews?

The candies are individually wrapped and come in a sealed bag

An unwrapped caramel

I have to say that this candy didn't exactly disappoint me, but it didn't meet the level of sea salt caramels I had purchased before. I think it was because this candy was rather smooth, as opposed to the caramels I purchased in Davis which had coarse grains of salt in them. There's still a sea salt flavor and they taste a bit fancier than regular caramel chews, but I think that's because I paid $4 for a box. I'm not sure if I would get these again.

Next up:

This looked like a box holding cologne or perfume and came in at $6.50 a box. The box, while small, was quite heavy for it size. They offered other flavors, such as toffee, but I chose peppermint due to personal preference.

All this talk about Formula 23 really intrigues me

Here is a look at the creator of this candy


They come individually wrapped in shiny green wrappers

They don't look that fancy without the wrapper

I swear I didn't bite into this

So how did these taste? Well, imagine a large Andes Chocolate Mint, but not quite the same. I happen to like Andes Chocolate Mints, and many of my students do as well. In fact, it was the favorite of one of my students for a while, until she turned to Swedish Fish. Anyway, a large bag of Andes Chocolate Mints comes in at about $3 on a regular day, and at around $2.66 on a sale day at Target. I would probably take the Andes Chocolate Mints over this because I enjoy the texture of a thin mint over this. However, if texture is not an issue to you, then you could go either way.

What did I learn from this? I learned that sometimes pricier isn't always better. Well, the prices weren't that much higher than other candies, but in the world of candy, a $1 chocolate bar is MUCH cheaper than a $2 chocolate bar. I've also learned that sometimes more expensive candies are just have better wrappers than regular candies. And so, it's best not to judge a candy by its wrapper or its price tag, but instead by its taste. The next time you are in possession of higher priced candy, ask yourself if that candy tastes like something that costs less. By asking yourself this, you may be surprised sometimes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Japanese Soda Candy #2.5: Japan - Land of the Rising Sun and Deception

So in my last entry about Japanese soda candy, I wrote about this package of soda candy that was fizzy all the way through and that was better than the first soda candy I wrote about, despite it having only five flavors. Probably two days ago, I went to a Japanese market again and this is what I see:

I mean, are you kidding me? Less than a week after buying that bag of candy with five flavors, I see this bag with TEN! So basically for the first bag with five flavors, I was cheated out of five other flavors! Also take a look at the top right of the bag, it's important for later

Notice the 10 on the left side that is mocking me for buying a bag that had only five different flavors

Top: Mango, Strawberry
Bottom: Peach, Cola, Lemon

This is apparently where the cola flavored candy is to be found. The cola flavored one is also twice the size of the other candies. I guess it's because people love the flavor of cola. Anyway, how did these candies rank?

1. Strawberry: This one really surprised me because I thought to myself, "Ugh, strawberry...what a generic flavor" but it turns out that I liked this one the best. The reason is because these taste just like the Marukawa strawberry flavored gumballs. These can be found usually in any Asian market and they come in little boxes. Definitely my favorite flavor of the new contenders.

2. Peach: This tasted a lot like white peach. I really like peach flavored candy, so it's hard to go wrong with this. If it weren't for the fact that I liked Marukawa gumballs more, this probably would have made the top of the list.

3. Mango: This was interesting because I've never had mango flavored soda candy. I didn't know what it would taste like, but surprise, surprise it tasted like mango. This made me think that mango should be in more Japanese soda candies or chewy candies. Chewy candies that aren't Hi-Chew that is.

4. Cola: Eh, I've never really be a fan of cola flavored candies anyway, so it's no surprise that this wasn't ranked that high. It's not bad at all, and is actually quite good, but it faces stiff competition when it comes to the new flavors. As stated before, this was larger than the other candies. I was hoping they'd sneak in an extra flavor at the end, but it was just cola flavored throughout.

5. Lemon: Again, eh... It wasn't bad, but it was too generic for my liking. It's one of those flavors where it's nice to have, but I don't think it's necessary. The best way I could put it is it didn't offend my taste buds.

After this revelation, here is how I would re-rank the candies:

1. Strawberry
2. Apple
3. Peach
4. Melon
5. Mango
6. Cola
7. Soda
8. Lemon
9. Orange
10. Grape

Yep, I'm still a big fan of the Apple flavor and it gets 2nd place. I don't know why this candy and Marukawa do the strawberry flavor so well. Maybe I really like them just because that flavor reminds me of my childhood. Either way, here's how I felt about the new flavors. I just know that next week I'm going to find a bag that has like 20 different flavors and one mystery flavor or something now.

Candy Randoms: Japanese chewy candies again

Well, here's another edition of candy randoms. I once again bring to you things that I happened to run across at convenience stores and markets. You may ask, "Doesn't that mean that most entries you've done could fall under the category of 'Candy Randoms'?" and to that I say to you, "Be quiet."

Today we're going to be taking a look at Japanese chewy candies again. Again, they come in sticks and are individually wrapped. The first one that I tried was cola flavored:

I like the packaging. I too would like to take a bath in soda. However, it'd have to be diet soda so that I could both save calories and not be sticky when I come out.

For some reason I found this picture of the candy to be hilarious

It's not a caramel chew no matter how much it looks like one

Well there were no surprises with this candy. It tasted as I expected, and that flavor is cola. There were little gummy orbs and pieces of baking soda that helped change the texture. I enjoy the texture of these candies because they're very reminiscent of Hi-Chew. If you like cola flavor then this candy should be a hit. It's a nice departure from the hard candies and cola flavored gummy candy.

Next up, we have a candy that I have no idea what the flavor is.

Yeah, I'm going to need some translation here. To the left it looks like there's a cherry, but in the middle there's some sort of yellow thing. The candy does look very fashionable compared to its naked counterparts. It's got wooden sandals, a bandana, a jacket, and an awesome mustache. Definitely better dressed than the naked candy taking a cola shower.

It says "LOVE" on the back of the candy's jacket. The English label and ingredient list are of no help in figuring out what this flavor is

There's hearts coming from the candy. There's also a diagram of what he looks like naked

I think I can rule out cherry flavor

This view doesn't give me any clues either

What was this mystery flavor? When I first bit into it I smelled a bit of watermelon. I can't be sure of what it was supposed to be, but to me it definitely tasted like biting into watermelon gum. Then as it started dissolving I started smelling yogurt. This is an edition of "Candy Randoms" that's going to need someone who knows Japanese. Anyway, I liked it despite not knowing it was because it was sweet and the texture was good. This also has little gummy orbs and baking soda in it.

And so ends this edition of "Candy Randoms". I have one flavor that is very familiar to me and one flavor which I'm not sure what it's supposed to be. Hopefully someone can come in and give some input and tell me what it's supposed to be. who knows what I'll pick up next? I wonder what I'll pick up next.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Japanese Soda Candy #2: Fizzy, fizzy, fizzy

This is the second episode of Japanese Soda Candy and this time I'd like to review a candy that's fizzy from beginning to end. This was a random pick up, so it's serendipity that it would be fizzy. Some random pick ups I've made have backfired because it turned out that only one of the flavors was fizzy. Not this one though:

This one comes with five flavors and I have no idea what it says. However, I do know that the flavors are clearly pictured. There's apple, melon, grape, orange, and soda. There aren't cute little characters on the bag, but there logo does look like it's in some sort of soda ocean.

On the back there's a little man on the lower left. It says "Something something", so I guess it's asking us to visit their website. Otherwise, the back of the bag is rather unimpressive.

Top: apple, melon
Bottom: grape, orange, soda

Well here are the candies with their wrapper next to them. They're round and don't have little faces on them. The more I look at this candy, the more generic it looks. The fizz in this candy is a bit light, but it's noticeable. Here's how I rated the flavors:

1. Apple: I'm quite partial to apple flavored candies. This is probably why I thought this was the best flavor. It had a nice apple flavor and apple smell. There's not much else to say.

2. Melon: This flavor was a very close second. If you like melon flavored candies then you'll enjoy this candy very much. I was debating between having this or apple be the best one, but like I said before, I'm partial to apple flavored candies. If you could go either way you might have this better than the apple.

3. Soda: I'm not sure why, but this soda flavor appeal to me as much as other soda flavored candies. I think it's because the flavor and soda smell weren't very noticeable, thus I couldn't really tell if the flavor was all that good. A solid flavor, but definitely middle of the pack at best.

4. Orange: Eh...I've stated before that I'm not a fan of orange flavored candies, with the exception of Italian Mike & Ikes. A very typical orange flavor with nothing that makes it any better or any worse than other orange flavored candies.

5. Grape: I'm just not a fan of Dimetapp, and that's pretty much what this flavor tasted like. It's odd because there are some grape flavored candies I really like, while there are others that just taste like cough syrup to me. Not a bad flavor, but it was definitely my least favorite of the bunch.

I liked this Japanese soda candy better than the first one I wrote about. The flavors are clear and identifiable. Apple and melon flavor alone blow the previous candy away by miles. I now wonder what other Japanese soda candies I may find in the aisles of markets. Will I choose one that I'm familiar with or will I write about one like this one where I have no idea what it is? Stay tuned to find out!

Kit Kat Attack: c'est fini

So I decided to save time and posts by doing an entry wrapping up my Kit Kat journey. The third variety in the Kit Kat series comes in a the non-standard large bar form:

This Kit Kat is about the same size as a normal candy bar. Unlike most Kit Kats, it does not come in sections. Once again there is a label on the left displaying the calories in the Kit Kat. Also there's a picture of bananas to better get the point across.

As soon as I opened the wrapper, a strong banana smell came out immediately. Unfortunately, it was the sickly Laffy Taffy like banana smell; the smell was extremely artificial. The bar looks basically like a large and yellow Kit Kat bar. On top of them bar "Kit Kat" is printed.

Oh I'm sure to find gold in a Kit Kat one of these days

Well the Banana Kit Kat tasted rather artificial. It was a bit too sweet and didn't smell quite right. Of all the Kit Kats I tried, this was at the bottom of the pile. I believe if it were less sweet and richer than it would have been better. I'd much rather have a milk chocolate Kit Kat over this.

And lastly we have...

Green Tea Kit Kat I guess? Well, it was labeled as "Sakura" so I guess there's some cherry blossom essence in there. I'm not quite sure.

I took a picture of the back of the box because it looks like this could be sent as a gift to someone. I'm going to say Japanese Santa Clause (Santa KUROSU!) sends these as gifts to good children. I'm sure there's a coal flavor out there for naughty children.

Yep, nothing new here

From this we can assume it is green tea flavored

Well, the first thing I tasted when I bit into this was the wafer. It wasn't until I held it in my mouth for a bit that the green tea flavor came through. This wasn't as sweet as the other Kit Kats, which was nice. I thought that this Kit Kat was a good way to end it because it wasn't mind blowingly good, but it was good enough to enjoy.

Here is how I would rank the Kit Kats I tried:

1. Maple Kit Kat
2. Sakura Kit Kat
3. Flan Kit Kat
4. Banana Kit Kat

What did I learn from this? I learned that sometimes, more flavors doesn't always mean better flavors. White Chocolate Kit Kats are definitely better than half of the flavors I've had here and I would say that at this moment I'd probably prefer it over Maple Kit Kat. However, among the four flavors Maple is worth getting because, as I said before, it reminded me of Waffle Crisp. If that's not your thing, a big bag of Kit Kats at Target is far cheaper than these foreign Kit Kats.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kit Kat Attack part deux: Oh Canada

Once again this is an entry that isn't that far apart from my last post. The reason I decided to do this one not too long after my first installment of Kit Kat Attack is because I figured that I would bring this bag of Kit Kat to work. If I waited until tomorrow, there's a chance that they would be torn apart by the vultures (students). Anyway, the reason I titled this entry "Oh Canada" is because of this:

Even though these Kit Kats are Japanese, they are maple flavored. They even have a maple leaf on there to get the point across. Anything related to maple syrup and maple leaves I attribute to Canada. Notice on the lower left, there is a gold medal. I guess that means that this is an award winning flavor.

We see once again that the packet shows the calories of the mini-bars. This packet doesn't have the words "open" on it. How will people know how to open it?

Once again, they look the same as White Chocolate Kit Kats.

Yep, pretty much the same as Flan Kit Kats

Anyway, I liked this flavor a lot more than Flan Kit Kats. Maple Kit Kats sort of reminded me of Waffle Crisps. You can definitely tell that they're maple syrup flavored. Would I buy another big bag of these? I'm not sure if I would, but it's a nice detour from other regularly available candy. However, I'm starting to miss real chocolate after not having it for a while. Again, Maple Kit Kats better than Flan Kit Kats, hence the gold medal on the lower left of the bag.

I'm not doing part tre and part vier until tomorrow at the earliest, but here's a look at things to come:


Kit Kat Attack part uno: Flan Kit Kat or something

So a while ago, I read on Wikipedia that other parts of the world get different flavors of Kit Kats. I thought to myself, "Why do we only get white chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate variations of Kit Kat?" I mean even on holidays we don't get Kit Kat Mint or anything, even though it would fit in nicely with the mint flavored holiday candies. I then figured out why this is, Kit Kat was developed in the UK. They're probably hoarding all the most exotic flavors for themselves.

Anyway, I found that Japan also get a good amount of exotic flavors. I suppose it's because the Japanese like things that are different from the beaten path. I mean come on, the first time someone made green tea ice cream they probably thought he was crazy. I was able to find different kinds of Kit Kats at a Japanese market. At first I was only going to buy one kind and review it. However, I then thought that I'm probably going to come back for the rest of the flavors anyway, so I decided to buy the rest of the available flavors. And so begins part uno of Kit Kat Attack.

I'm starting off with what I assume to be Flan Kit Kats. Yes, the bag is resting on top of the box that contained my Xbox 360 Fighting Stick. I take Street Fighter IV very seriously. Also Super Street Fighter IV is coming out next week. Anyway, I assume the bottom left indicates how many packets are in the bag. On the top left I guess is how many calories each packet is.

Here are the individually wrapped Kit Kats. On the left we see how many calories the packet contains once again. Question: Why is everything in Japanese except the part showing the consumer how to open the packet? My guess is that the Japanese have no word for the word "open".

Each packet contains two mini bars. Kit Kat Flan looks like White Chocolate Kit Kats

A bar broken in half. Nothing to see here, gentlemen

Well, we see that the candy itself doesn't look different from the ones available in the United States. How does it taste? The wafer part of it tastes pretty much the same has the same texture. The flavor is something like flan along with butterscotch. That's probably the best way I could describe it. It has a pudding, flan, etc. taste, but afterward it transitions into a butterscotch flavor. Definitely an interesting flavor, but I don't think I would buy a big bag of it again.

Stay tuned to see what Kit Kat is next for part deux!

Japanese Soda Candy #1: There's a lot of them

One of the most common candies I see when I walk in a Japanese market is soda candy. With so many different ones, it's hard to figure out which ones taste good and which ones are just okay. Well I buy a lot of soda candy and I figured it was time to start writing about my experiences with them. Here is the first installment of Japanese Soda Candy.

I have no idea what the name of the candy is. On the top it has "something & something". I'm going to assume that the brown and blue bottles are adventurers or something. I know that the brown and the blue bottles are welcoming buyers. Look at the brown bottle, it's licking its lips. It knows it's delicious. The green bottle in the top left is totally spacing out and thinking about something else. It's a good thing they put the blue and brown bottles on the front.

There are so many question marks on the back, I can only conclude that even the makers of this candy were confused.

Each candy comes individually wrapped and has a little character on the wrapper.

A picture of the candies unwrapped. They have little faces or something on them, except for the brown bottle. The brown bottle looks like a barrel or something.

On the outside you have a hard candy. Once you get to the core there is baking soda which gives the soda candy its fizz. Some soda candies are fizzy all the way through, but some, like this one, require you to get to the core before anything happens. I had no idea what the flavors were, so much of this will be based on assumptions. Here is a ranking of the flavors:

1. Green: This tastes like blue soda candy you would find in other Japanese soda candy bags. I'm not quite sure on how to describe the taste. It's somewhat like Ramune. Anyway, I enjoyed this flavor the most simply because the blue candies in other Japanese soda candies are my favorite.

2. Pink: The best way to describe it is citrus-like. It gives off a sort of lemon, grapefruit, and orange flavor. I found this one to be quite good and it was a flavor where even though I couldn't really tell what it was, I had a general idea of what they were aiming for.

3. Brown: This is your standard cola flavored candy. This is a hit with my female students, I don't know why they love cola flavored candies so much. Nothing really special here, but it was good enough to make third.

4. Yellow: This had a grapefruit flavor. I don't know what they were aiming for, but grapefruit is the impression that I got. It's a bit harsher than the pink bottle. This was just okay and I'd much rather have the other three candies over this one.

5 & 6 Blue and Purple: Okay, these are in this category simply because I didn't know what flavor they were and I didn't enjoy them that much. If someone could translate the bag, that would be great, otherwise I'm not sure what flavor they are. Purple sort of reminded me of Watermelon Warheads. I hate Watermelon Warheads. It's not that Watermelon Warheads are terrible, it's just that every other flavor of Warhead is so much better. I'm not even going to try and guess what Blue was.

Finally, I took my camera and decided to use it like a hammer to break open a candy to show the core:

Yep, that's what makes the candy fizz when you get to the middle. This is also how the Japanese import crack cocaine into Japan (I don't know if they actually do this or not, wouldn't it be crazy if it were true though?)

While a solid candy with six different flavors, I couldn't tell what some of them were. I think I'm more partial to soda candies that are fizzy all the way through as opposed to these ones where the ingredients that give the fizz are in the middle. This soda candy wasn't my favorite, but the students ravaged it nonetheless. In fact, I had to hide this last bag so that I could even do a review on it. It's probably because of the characters on the front. The better looking the bag, the more likely it is that kids will fawn over it. Hopefully, I will be able to do more reviews on Japanese soda candies before my students get to them.

Korean Market Part 2: continued

I apologize for this second post being written less than a few minutes from the last one. However, I remembered that I bought another interesting item from the Korean market, and I was too lazy to move the pictures, edit the writing, and so on and so forth. Anyway, moving on, I did find another item that I would be interesting and here it is:

Yep, that's blueberries and cheese you see in the lower left. Frankly I bought this because the box was pretty attractive and the snack inside looked like it would probably be like Hello Panda or Koala snacks. Also note how welcoming the character on the lower right of the box is. It's like he's inviting you in to taste his baked goods or something. The cow and the farm frankly look out of place.

I included a picture of the back of the box just to display the guy on the lower left. He promises the best and looks like some sort of scientist. Yes, I will trust you. He also "Promise The Best" according to the box. Also the snack I assume is called Kancho. Or maybe that's the brand. I have no idea. However, I do know that the flavor is "Cheese-Berry". If that character above the nutrition label is any indication, I'm going to love this snack.

Inside is a little mini comic. I'm sure it would have been hilarious if I could read Korean. Or if the picture was clearer.

Cute little designs on a little biscuit. If this character were an emoticon it would be ;3

Even after the break, the character still holds a smile on its face

This snack is just like any other biscuit with a filling type snack found at any other Asian market. There's nothing special about it and the filling didn't amaze me. It partly didn't amaze me because there was little filling in the biscuit compared to a Hello Panda biscuit. The flavor was definitely some sort of berry, but if you gave me the filling of this biscuit and the filling of any strawberry filled biscuit I wouldn't know the difference. Maybe there's a lack of strawberries in Korea and they use blueberries and cheese as a substitute. Regardless, this snack is good just for the pretty little box, but otherwise it's a snack that is skippable.