I’m in Japan – the mecca of novelty junk food! Of course, I sought out some new and quirky offerings. The traditional Snickers candy bar gets a paler makeover with white chocolate coating and lighter nougat filling. When I spied these on the shelf, they seemed so familiar, but I hadn’t seen or tried them before.
How is it?
When I unwrapped the candy bar, I didn’t know whether to bite into it or spread it on my toast. It looked like a stick of butter.
Once righted, I noticed the white chocolate coating was thin enough that I could make out individual nuts through it. ?
The caramel and peanuts here are the familiar and delicious Snickers taste combo, but the nougat is different. It’s slightly lighter in color and taste. I couldn’t tell if it was vanilla flavored or just generic “sugar.” It faded away behind the caramel, peanuts and white chocolate. I’m usually a big nougat fan, so this was a bummer.
The white chocolate in this candy bar was the dominant flavor, and very sweet. Cloyingly sweet to me. I found it a little off-putting. It also melted much quicker than the regular chocolate coating, so I ended up with white fingerprints all over my airline seat.
Is there anything else you need to know?
Staging an impromptu Snickers bar photo session on a plane will most certainly garner odd looks from the stranger sitting next to you. Be warned.
Snickers White comes off as a too-sweet, washed out photocopy of an actual Snickers. Not as exciting as Snickers’ other recent innovations.
Purchased Price: 140 yen (approx. $1.24 US) Size: 49 g bar Purchased at: Family Mart, Shibuya, Tokyo Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (per bar) 249 calories, 12.9 grams of fat, 4.9 grams of saturated fat, 280 milligrams of sodium, and 24.7 grams of sugar.
I’m in Japan – the mecca of novelty junk food! Of course, I sought out some new and quirky offerings. Coca-Cola has introduced a colorless version of its signature pop – trailing a quarter of a century behind Pepsi in the clear soda arms race. Without all that pesky caramel-y cola, it’s billed as lemon-flavored and is a zero-calorie drink. It is currently only available in Japan.
How is it?
Right out of the bottle, the aroma veers away from the usual Coke. It’s milder with a low-level citrus smell.
I was expecting something with a strong lemon taste, ala Sprite or 7Up, but this was subtler – like squeezing a lemon wedge into your already-sweet seltzer water and adding a dash of cola. Despite the lemon base, it was identifiable as a Coke derivative and had the same sweeteness level, but was lighter and brighter than regular Coca-Cola. It didn’t have the neon citrus feel of other sodas.
While not unpleasant, Coca-Cola Clear failed to establish its own flavor personality. Hence, it’s easier to describe what it ISN’T – it’s not cola, it’s not un-cola. Because of this vagueness of character, I wondered why this? Why now? Is 2018 the right time just because Coke hadn’t done it yet?
Is there anything else you need to know?
Be prepared for the pop. The Coke products I sampled in Japan were packaged in a way that caused the initial rush of gasses out of the bottles to be downright explosive. My travel companion and I startled each other all week with the loud cracks of Coke bottles opening.
Overall, an OK lightly lemon soda, but as Dr. Ian Malcolm would say – Coca-Cola scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should. Try it if you’re a hardcore noveltyist, but only one bottle.
Purchased Price: 48 yen (approx. 69 cents US) Size: 500 ml bottle (17 oz.) Purchased at: MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya, Tokyo Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (100 ml) 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars and 0 grams of protein.
If I ever need a cough drop to soothe my throat because I cheered loudly when my favorite team scored a touchdown/run/goal/basket/eight-ender or because I screamed, “WHAAAAAT!?” after learning about a cough drop-flavored candy bar, the Cough Drop Kit Kat will not be of any help.
The odd, new confection from Japan is called Kit Kat Nodo Ame Aji, which translates to Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor. The candy gets its lozengeness from ground cough drop powder that’s been added to the white chocolate.
As you can see below, the pack I bought from eBay didn’t do well during its two-week inter-Pacific trek from Japan. The iconic Kit Kat fingers are almost indistinguishable and the white chocolate looks as if it was melted throughout most of its journey. While it looks like congealed bacon grease logs, the white chocolate has a pleasant peppermint-like aroma. But once I broke off a piece of that Kit Kat bar, an odd stale aroma made its way up my nose, which worried me.
The candy tastes like a generic menthol cough drop, and at times it reminds me of a York Peppermint Pattie, but it’s mild. There’s even a slight cooling sensation, which brought a “Holy crap! That’s awesome!” smile to my face. It’s not even close to being nostril clearing or throat soothing as an actual cough drop, so I’m 99.9 percent sure it won’t help after being hoarse from cheering on an eight-ender.
But while tasting it, I began to wonder if being locked up for thousands of miles on a boat affected its flavor because there were brief moments when my taste buds noticed a harsh flavor that I’ve only experienced when accidentally biting into stale foods. (It happens to me more than you’d think. I don’t read IKEA instructions or check my foods to see if they’re stale.) But I can’t help but think it’s part of the cough drop flavor, because, you know, Japan.
If the Kit Kat had a menthol flavor with a cooling sensation, I’d be into that kinky culinary combo, but that stale flavor, even though it’s very mild and fleeting, gives me pause.
Having tried dozens of odd Japanese Kit Kat flavors, like wasabi, soy sauce, butter, and ginger, I have to say Kit Kat Nodo Ame Aji is the least pleasing Japanese Kit Kat I’ve ever tasted.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 65 kcal, 0.41 grams of protein, 3.7 grams of fat, 7.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 2-7 milligrams of sodium.)
Purchased Price: $5.99* Size: 3-pack Purchased at: eBay Rating: 5 out of 10 Pros: Another weird Kit Kat flavor from Japan. At times, it tastes like a York Peppermint Pattie. Cooling sensation is neat. Cons: Weird stale flavor. Sending chocolate via slow mail.
*Bought it on eBay from a seller in Japan. It costs much less in the store.
For most of my life I’ve thought of ginger as more of a medicine than an ingredient.
When I felt nauseous playing DOOM, I sucked on ginger candy. When I felt something funny in my tummy while watching someone play DOOM, I drank ginger ale. And when it felt like the room was spinning around every time I closed my eyes after playing DOOM, I hung out next to the toilet.
While ginger ale is quite possibly the most popular beverage with ginger, more drinks are being offered with it, like ginger beers, ginger kombucha, and, last year, Pepsi put some into their wonderful 1893 Ginger Cola.
Because of my love for Pepsi’s craft ginger cola, the first thing I sought out during my Japan trip was the new Coca-Cola Plus Ginger.
While Pepsi Japan comes out annually with limited edition soda flavors you’ve never seen in a PETE plastic soda bottle, Coca-Cola Japan keeps it simple by just adding a bit of flavor to the standard Coke and does it at an Olympics-like frequency. About three years ago, Coca-Cola Japan sold a delicious orange-flavored Coke.
It’s funny that the Pepsi Japan flavors are like ideas from a cocaine binge (cucumber, baobab, cherry blossom), while the cola that once had actual cocaine in it ends up being tame.
Much like the amount of orange flavoring in the last limited edition Japanese Coke I had, this soda had the right amount of ginger flavor. You can’t miss it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the cola. To be honest, it tastes right at home with the cola spices. Also, it didn’t burn, like it does with ginger beer. Coca-Cola Plus Ginger is such a great tasting soda that I bought two more bottles at the end of my trip.
If you enjoyed Pepsi’s ginger cola, you’ll like this, if you get your hands on it. It’s only available in Japan for a limited time (it was available in Australia in 2016) or from an online Japanese snack seller. If you think you’ll be able to replicate it by mixing Coca-Cola with Seagram’s Ginger Ale, you won’t because I tried using various ratios and none of them tasted anything close.
I really hope Coca-Cola Plus Ginger ends up in the United States, or at least be an option on a Coke Freestyle machine.
(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 44 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sodium, and 0 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: 130 Japanese Yen Size: 500 ml Purchased at: Lawson Station Rating: 9 out of 10 Pros: If you’re a fan of Pepsi’s 1893 Ginger Cola, you’ll like this. Right amount of ginger flavor. Ginger complements the cola spices. Doesn’t have ginger burn. Cons: Not available in the U.S., but might be available through online Japanese snack sellers. The nauseous feeling I got when playing DOOM.
They represent what’s out there. The great unknown. The vast expanses of the galaxy and the universe. And it saddens me that the national space program is in such a state of decline. If we don’t continue to expand our presence into the Local Group, how are we going to colonize and terraform Mars? How are we going to make first contact? How can we even start to think about making the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs?
The answer is that none of these things is going to be happening anytime soon unless we find a major reason to motivate us. Clearly the huddled masses aren’t interested in learning or human achievement, so I believe the motivation lies in snack food.
At some point, we’re going to run out of food ideas. Mathematically this seems inevitable. There is a finite number naturally occurring foods on our planet, so there is an equally finite number of ways to combine them. We are already there. When molecular gastronomists are forced reduce garden peas to their essence to be huffed from a balloon animal made from a section of a bison’s intestinal tract, it seems the end is almost nigh.
We’ve already started remixing with our processed foods. Bacon’s been smashed into every product in every grocery aisle. Name something you bought in October or November that didn’t have pumpkin in it. Impossible.
Even the corporations who are in charge of these things are running out of ideas. They’ve been reduced to farming out ideas to the common man through flavor contests.
The end is on its way, you guys. And that end, that day when everything has been combined with everything else, is going to be the day we head back into space. People may not be excited about studying moon rocks, but they’ll sure as hell be excited about the possibility of Limited Edition Romulan Ale Doritos and Blue Bantha Milk Oreos.
Until that day, we’ll continue dreaming and smashing together things we have. And we do that today with these Mountain Dew Cheetos from the Japanese arm of Frito-Lay.
As with the Pepsi-flavored Cheetos I reviewed a while back, the color of these things bothers me. Not making them bright Mountain Dew green is a wasted opportunity. This kind of product is a novelty and an attention getter, and their color should reflect that. Orange Cheetos-dusted fingers are a tradition. How great would obnoxiously green Mountain Dew Cheetos fingers be?! Pretty damn great.
The nosegrope of these Cheetos is very intensely citrus. There is a lot of lemon, and they smell sweet. There is also an underlying current of stale, flat cola. They smell very similar to the Pepsi Cheetos but with the lemon ratcheted up.
The flavor recreation they were going for falls a bit short of their goal. There is an initial blast of sour lemon flavor that is followed by some underlying sweetness. The lemon flavor tastes pretty artificial. I don’t have a problem with artificial flavors, obviously, but it tastes artificial to the point where it forces you to stop and think of the artificialness.
The sour blast is a bit too much here. It takes the Cheetos from the realm of “Mountain Dew” to the realm of…something with a lot of lemons. I know people who have consumed a Star Destroyer’s worth of Mountain Dew in their lives, and I’m not confident they could blind taste this and come up with anything other than a quizzical “something lemony.”
Like the Pepsi Cheetos, the aftertaste of these lingers for a very long time. I also didn’t get as much mouth-fizzing action as I hoped for. The Pepsi Cheetos are definitely the superior hybrid food, but that’s not saying a lot.
These are not bad. A lemon-flavored corn snack is not a terrible idea, but a lemon-flavored corn snack is really all we get here. Nothing transcendent, nothing revelatory. Just a good idea that is off the mark.
I’m already looking forward to Dr. Pepper Cheetos (and distantly to Klingon Bloodwine Kit Kats.) Until then!
(Nutrition Facts – 188 kcal, 10.3 grams of fat, 221 milligrams of sodium, 22.1 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of protein.)
Item: Frito Lay Mountain Dew Corn Snack (Mountain Dew Cheetos) Purchased Price: $4.50 Size: 35 grams Purchased at: eBay Rating: 5 out of 10 Pros: Lemons. Sour blasts. Spaceships. Cons: Wrong color. Too much lemon to be Mountain Dew. Lingering aftertaste. Lack of fizz.
Last summer, Pepsi in Japan introduced the very limited edition Pepsi Ice Cucumber, which sold out in less than a month and helped Japan maintain their title of Country Most Likely Not To Use Focus Groups. This summer, they gave the finger to focus groups again and released the limited-edition, Japan-only, Pepsi Blue Hawaii.
The beverage is based on the Blue Hawaii cocktail, which is made of rum, pineapple juice, blue Curacao, sweet and sour mix, and sometimes vodka. Despite living in Hawaii and being of drinking age for the past decade, I have yet to consume a Blue Hawaii, because I’m allergic to cocktail umbrellas and drinks that make me look like a drunk sorority girl ready to flash her boobs when a video camera and Joe Francis come by.
The color of the Pepsi Blue Hawaii could best be described as Smurf-like, which makes sense since the idea of the Pepsi Blue Hawaii made me feel the same way I feel about the future Smurfs movie — it’s probably going to suck, but it has a certain allure to it that tickles my smurfs. After tasting it, I have to say that the Pepsi Blue Hawaii isn’t so smurftastic, but it is just a little smurfy.
The pineapple and lemon flavor combination was really smurfing sweet and artificial, especially the pineapple. I really didn’t enjoy it at first, but just like my experience with the Pepsi Ice Cucumber, I got used to its flavor and somewhat enjoyed it. I think its fruity flavor would make it a smurftastic mixer if you want to get totally smurfed off of something blue and can get your hands on some Pepsi Blue Hawaii.
I’m not sure what the smurf is so mutha smurfing appealing to my taste buds with the Pepsi Blue Hawaii, but for some smurfing reason, companies in Japan seem to know how to make smurfing products that sound and look unsmurfy, but in the end, turn out to be kind of smurfy. So I look forward to a new mutha smurfing flavor next summer from Pepsi in Japan. My money is on Pepsi Ice Carrot or Cherry Blossom Pepsi.
(Editor’s Note: TIB would like to thank reader Fury for sending a bottle of Pepsi Blue Hawaii from Japan, along with a bunch of other goodies to review. Domo arigato gozaimasu!)
Item: Pepsi Blue Hawaii Price: FREE (only available in Japan) Purchased at: Received from TIB reader Fury Rating: 6 out of 10 Pros: Just a little smurfy. Comes in a Smurf color. After a few sips, I got used to the flavor and somewhat enjoyed it. Might make a good mixer. Using focus groups. Getting my smurfs tickled. Cons: Pineapple and lemon flavor was smurfing sweet and artificial. Didn’t like the flavor at first. Available only in Japan. Limited edition. Drinks that make me look like a drunk sorority girl. Cocktail umbrellas.