Japanese Candy Extravaganza Part II

6 10 2009

[note: the images here are a wee bit messed up. I will fix them shortly.]

So, I got home worn and weary, and plopped my bag of candy on my desk. My fantastic roommate, Katelin, is pretty much fluent in Japanese, so I enlisted her help in translating a few of the packages. She is excited about my project, and is actually going to be tasting everything with me. Right now, she is getting us some tea so we can clear our palates between tastings.

Candy number one: Choco-Dutsumi, which Katelin says should be Choco-Zutsumi. It’s in some hella fancy packaging. It’s got a cup of matcha on it, with a chasen and all!


Okay. It feels… I don’t know a good word for it. Vulgar. It feels vulgar. That’s all I’ll say, since my mother will read this. but, it’s matcha flavor, and we all know what a sucker I am for matcha-flavored things. So, here goes.

Umm... yeah. Like you castrated The Grinch.

Not bad, not bad at all! It’s basically matcha-flavored mochi with matcha-flavored white chocolate in the middle. A little melty, a little sweet, but VERY heavy on the matcha flavor.

Tastiness: 7/10
Texture: 3/10 (way too mushy and human-skin like)
Better than candy corn? Yes

The next one… I have no idea what this is called. However, according to Katelin, the box says:
“With this you can run 300 meters! It’s delicious and it’ll make you strong!”
Okay, I dunno about her, but it is 11:40 PM and I do NOT feel like running 300 meters right now. I will keep an extra one in my purse, in case I need to escape an attacker or something.

With this I can run 300 meters! And probably choke on it in the process.

Also note that this one comes with ARTS AND CRAFTS. “Friends from around the world.” Our friends in this pack came from a colder corner of the world: they are polar bears.


(Obviously, Katelin put them together. Not me.)


I think it’s supposed to be heart-shaped. I say it’s butt-shaped.

I expected them to be hard, but they’re chewy. Caramel-y and kinda good.
Tastiness: 5/10 I don’t think I’d go out of my way to buy them again.
Texture: 4/10 Sticks to my teeth!
Better than candy corn? Yes
Do I feel strong? No

Galbo Chips

Galbo Chips

Okay, that’s scary. A chocolate-flavored chip? I’m a bit concerned. They look like the rye chips from Gardetto’s, but… chocolate? I really don’t know…

Very frightened now...

BUT HOT DAMN THEY ARE GOOD. Very chocolatey, slightly soft but still crispy. Kinda creamy and chewy at the same time… WE CAN’T STOP EATING THEM! These, I will buy again.
Tastiness: 10/10
Texture: 8/10 Just a bit different, I guess.
Better than candy corn? Hell yes!

This next one really concerns me. Men’s Pocky. Am I allowed to eat it? Will I get arrested? Or worse, will I, ahem, grow a pair? This is easily the most sexist snack in the bunch.

Not for girls.

Instead of the normal Pocky bland-cookie deal, it seems to be a pretzel.

[there would’ve been a picture here, but it was kinda crappy. I don’t need to show you what Pocky looks like.]

Not too different from regular Pocky, actually. A bit darker, but otherwise the same.

Tastiness: 6/10
Texture: 7/10
Better than candy corn? Yes
Did I grow testicles? Not… yet.

The next one is (patiently waiting for Katelin to translate because she insists I not call it “Bag of Purple”) Meiji Brand Wata Pachi. She keeps saying it’s gonna be like Pop Rocks but it feels like cotton candy. Luckily, these are two of my favorite kinds of candy, so either way, I’ll be happy. It is grape flavored, though, but I’ll try to choke it down.

Bag of purple

It is sort of a pouch? I don’t know. A pouch of cotton candy filled with Pop Rocks. Why didn’t I think of that?

Wata Pachi

WOW. This is really good too. It doesn’t taste like grape FLAVOR, it taste like grape! The Japanese are way more advanced in yet another way. The Pop rocks are really poppy, and the cotton candy is good too.

Tastiness: 8/10
Texture: 10/10 Cotton candy AND explosions! WOOOOO!
Better than candy corn? Definitely.


Looks good!

Wheat crackers with matcha and brown sugar center. Well dang! That’s a lot of flavors. They look and smell good.

Tastes bad!

And they taste… like matcha-flavored fish food with a sugar center. Is that what we’re harvesting these days? I will leave it at that.

Tastiness: 4/10
Texture: 5/10
Better than candy corn? Barely


Best candy ever

I don’t have to say anything about Hi-Chews. I LOVE Hi-Chews. Like erasers that taste EXACTLY LIKE MANGO. Yum yum.

Beneath this wrapper is a delcious eraser.

Tastiness: 10/10
Texture: 10/10
Better than candy corn? Puh-lease. Best candy ever.

By far the winner for best packaging is Chelsea Butterscotch. Flowery and psychedelic. And I’ve had these before. They’re half-crunchy, half chewy, all delicious. But, not really spectacular. Butterscotch (while delicious!) is still just butterscotch.

Tastiness: 8/10
Texture: 4/10 I may have lost a filling.
Better than candy corn? Yes

Okay, so Mobaccho!


I love candy with instructions.

I have no idea what these are. And they exploded during the “push” step. And I screamed. It was awesome.

Please don't taste like peas... unless you're wasabi peas.

I’m gonna be pissed if I just bought a cup of peas.

They’re little cookie bits covered in a white-chocolate matcha coating. And they’re good! Very matcha-y, and not too sweet. These are a keeper.

Tastiness: 8/10
Texture: 8/10
Better than candy corn? Yes

Plus-X Cube Citrus Soda Mint Gum

Citrus AND soda AND mint. And it's a cube.

Cute box, right? Well I opened it, and a pack of Post-Its fell out of a pocket under the top. “What the hell?”
“Oh, those are to throw away the gum in,” said Katelin.


Those Japanese… I don’t even know what to say. But I will be using them as Post-Its, I think, to write one-word notes to people.

Not bad... not great.

The gum is… minty. With some SLIGHT tartness to it, kinda like Pledge. Or bleach. And sort of crunchy.

Tastiness: 4/10
Texture: 6/10
Better than candy corn? Yes
Comes with office supplies? YES.

Cola Mentos! For all the fun of dropping Mentos into Diet Coke without the mess. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google “mentos and diet coke.”)

The Freshmaker!

Definitely Cola-ish… and chewy. I kinda like it, actually! If they’d just make a Jack Daniels flavored Mentos (Mento? I have no idea) then we’d be in business!

Tastiness: 7/10
Texture: Mentos/10
Better than candy corn? Yes

Bit. Another selection from the many matcha-flavored things I picked up today. It’s tiny, and looks like a little green chocolate bar.

A bit bad.

Way too sweet, and again, kinda tastes like fish food. There were crunchy bits on the bottom, but that was its only saving grace.

Tastiness: 2/10
Texture: 4/10 (would’ve been lower had it not been for the crunchy bits)
Better than candy corn? Ehh, I guess.

Watering KissMint
I don’t know what to say here. Um, what is it? Mint? Gum? Water? Will it make me a better kisser? I don’t think that Katelin will help me test this theory. But she does say that it’s grapefruit flavor, which is kind of a surprise since the package is orange. Aren’t grapefruit things usually pink?

This one, sadly, did not come with Post-Its.

Oh well. Here goes.

WHOA. Just opening the cellophane wrapper, all I could smell was grapefruit. I don’t even want to chew it! Or eat it! Or drink it! Or kiss it! Or whatever! I just want to smell it!

So it appears to be gum.

An odd texture for gum… a bit… um, crumbly. But it’s actually delicious, and it tastes very grapefruity.

Tastiness: 9/10
Texture: 7/10
Better than candy corn? Yes
Will it make me a better kisser? I’ll get back to you on that.

Will it get me CRRRUUUNK?


I doubt it. It’s a matcha-chocolate rice cracker. We’ve kinda been two-for-four on the matcha stuff so far, so fingers crossed for CRUNKY!

(I just wanna say CRUNKY!)

“Made from new tea from 2009!” Oh good. I hate havin’ that ol’ aught-eight tea in my candy. I MEAN MY CRUNKY!

Would you like some CRUNKY?

It’s a welcoming, open box. Which is great, because I can’t wait to say to guests: “Oh, would you like some CRUNKY?”

So very tasty.

It looks like a Nestle Crunch Bar, but the rice tastes really toasty, and with the matcha white chocolate (which is CRAZY MATCHA-Y), it tastes like the kind of tea you get at sushi places. It is DELICIOUS. Y’all best believe I’ll be snatchin’ up some more CRUNKY pretty soon!

Tastiness: 9/10
Texture: 10/10
Better than candy corn? Hell yeah, playa.
Crunkness: 10/10

More in the pellet-shaped snacks, we have Choco Baby!

Choco, baby!

I’ve had Choco Baby before. I like Choco Baby. They’re just little pellets of chocolate. Tasty when you want some chocolate, which for me is kinda rare, but they’re convenient. “Like Raisinets without the raisins!” – Katelin

Tastiness: 8/10
Texture: 8/10
Better than candy corn? Yes

Okay, so this is exciting. Frisk Berry Mints. Why am I excited? Because they are going to sharpen me up. I don’t think we need a picture because they just look like aspirin.

OH SWEET LORD. These are nasty. They taste like NyQuil. And they’re making my tongue burn.

Tastiness: 1/10
Texture: It’s a mint
Better than candy corn? NO
Sharpened me up? Um… no.

What a sad note to end on.

Well, fortunately, I didn’t buy ALL of the candy at Shirokiya, so stay tuned for another round of Japanese Candy Extravaganza. Thanks to my co-host and translator Katelin. We’re gonna eat some more Galbo Chips now.

The Aftermath


Japanese Candy Extravaganza

6 10 2009

Below this post is the bounty I just procured at Shirokiya. Shirokiya is an insane store that is next door to my Starbucks. It deals in Japanese goods. Usually I just go in there to use the bathroom or to buy dinner (they have good hot wings and crab croquettes), but today I was in the mood for some candy.

Actually I’ve been in the mood for some candy for quite some time now. Mainly because my roommates always have candy. They’re always eating candy. They offer it to me, but lately they have candy corn and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which are the gross homeless crackheads of the candy world. Nobody wants those.

I guess it could be argued that some people do, for whatever reason, enjoy Reese’s Cups. But those who claim to like candy corn are the same people who claim to really enjoy Eraserhead. They are lying.

So, having been candyless, it occured to me that it’s probably because I never buy candy. Sure, I’ve been able to dig up some Hi-Chews and a Tootsie Roll Pop over the last few days, but my mom got me those. Today, I took matters into my own hands, faced the icy glare of adulthood, and bought my own candy.

Boy, did I ever buy some candy. The lady at the checkout counter said, “Do you need chopsticks? Oh wait. It’s all candy. All candy?”

“Yes,” I said. “A shopping basket full of candy, all in the name of science.”

She didn’t say anything after that.

So, dear readers, keep your dials tuned to Ol’ Dirty Barista. The adventure begins when I get home from work tonight.

Breaking news.

24 06 2009

Those of you who follow my Facebook may remember my dismay and disbelief at a claim made by a can of mixed nuts.

“Less than 50% peanuts!”

After munching a can or two of these (a great source of delicious vegan protein), I said “piff!”


I have to rake and dig and begrudgingly crunch through peanut after peanut after stinking boring peanut to get to anything remotely interesting, like a cashew or a pecan or the elusive and delicious Brazil nut. The last can I finished had but three of these creamy, crispy beauties. And a ton, I mean a TON of peanuts.

So I decided to put Planters to the challenge. Do your cans of mixed nuts truly contain less than 50% peanuts?

First off, you gotta figure out how they’re measuring this. By number of nuts? By weight? A little asterisk led me to: “nuts measured by weight.”

All right, fair enough. I no longer have a digital food scale (which would’ve made this process a breeze), and the analog scale I’ve got access to is pretty unreliable. So, we’re going on averages.

Let me just say that every single nut in this can was average. I did not pick up one cashew and say, “Whoa, look at this hefty motha!” Nor did I marvel at a remarkably minuscule hazelnut. Nope, these were average sized nuts. So, a quick round of skillful Googling provided me with the average weight of each nut.

So now, the numbers.

Almonds: 81 whole, two halves
Cashews: 16 whole, 15 halves
Pecans: two whole, one half (!)
Hazelnuts: 26 whole
Brazil nuts: eight whole, three halves
Peanuts: 51 whole, 354 halves.

Did you catch that last bit? 354 peanut halves. That is a lot of peanuts.

So, like I said before, skilled Googling allowed me to figure out approximately how many grams of each nut I had. 98g almonds, 32g cashews, 4g pecans, 22g hazelnuts, 38g Brazil nuts, and 267g peanuts.

Something seem a bit fishy yet?

We’re dealing with about 58% peanuts here.


Planters, expect a letter.

Retard cake.

16 06 2009

So this cake is so easy, you’d have to be an honest-to-god retard to not be able to make it. It’s vegan, and before you scamper off, check out the ingredients:

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cold water

Look at that! No soy milk, no margarine, no egg replacer, no carob… I’m willing to bet that you’ve got all of this in your kitchen right now. So what do you do? Mix up all the dry ingredients, then mix in all the wet ingredients. Stir it up, pour it into your vessel of choice, and pop it in a 350-degree oven. I put it in a glass baking dish, and it took about forty minutes to bake up to that puffy puffy. The remaining batter went into little cupcake tins and topped with peanut butter-chocolate icing– which I don’t like so I gave those to mom.

I think a fatty slice of cake with just a bit of powdered sugar and a fancy restaurant-style sliced strawberry is juuuuust fiiiine.

Magic Powder

15 05 2009

Do you want to know how to make magic powder? That immediately became its nickname after I made it a few weeks ago. I forget WHY I’d toasted pumpkin seeds, but I did. Oh, for some garbanzo beans and rice thing I was eating, which was pretty good. But anyway, I had all these leftover pumpkin seeds, so I tossed them in the Magic Bullet (oh, okay, fine, Kitchen Assistant) with a bunch of toasted sesame seeds, added a healthy pinch of salt, and buzzed until it formed a powder.

What do you do with it? PUT IT ON EVERYTHING. LITERALLY EVERYTHING. It is magic. It is tasty on eggs. It is tasty on toast. It is tasty on redneck tuna casserole (made with French onion dip instead of cream of mushroom soup). And I just made a ton of it and coated some chicken breast pieces with it. AMAZING!


Questions and answers.

12 05 2009

Here are a few of my favorite questions I get from customers.

“What’s the drink with the whipped cream on it?”

Okay, I dunno if you think we’ve just got a vending machine with beverages back here, but seriously, WE CAN PUT WHIPPED CREAM ON ANYTHING. Really. Do you want it on your brewed coffee? Sure. On your Frappuccino? You betcha. On your bagel? Your ice water? Your whole-bean coffee? We can do that. So when you ask for the drink with the whipped cream, you’re gonna have to be more specific.

“Do you have just regular coffee?”

Nope, never crossed our minds.

“What do you have that s/he can drink?” (pointing to a kid, ranging in age from eighteen months to seventeen.)

Mmmkay, first off, I’m not a doctor. Please don’t ask me to tell you what’s safe for your kid to drink. I hate kids, so I’ll probably say “Windex.” Secondly, I know you’re concerned about caffeine, but I’d like to know when a little caffeine actually hurt a kid. I’m sure you’ve sat and watched your kid drink a liter of Pepsi at a picnic, so I don’t think a tall Caramel Frappuccino is going to do too much damage. On a similar note…

“Does the Strawberries and Cream have coffee in it?”

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this. Seriously, people? Have you tasted strawberries? Yes? Okay. Have you tasted coffee? Cool. What makes you think that those two would taste good together at all? This is essentially like going to McDonald’s and asking if the apple pie has pickles on it. Jeez, give us a little credit. No, it does not. Also, look at the picture on the banner. It’s PINK. Coffee is brown. Back to first-grade art class!

“Is the caramel macchiato/vanilla bean Frappuccino/chai latte good?”

There’s so much stupidity here I barely know where to begin. First of all, I work here. It’s pretty much my job to tell you that everything is delicious so you should go ahead and get a Venti because you won’t want to stop drinking it. But I’m kinda bad at my job, so I won’t do that. I will tell you my opinion. If I think the drink tastes like we scooped it out of the mop bucket and poured it over ice, then I’ll tell you that. Cinnamon dolce lattes, honey lattes, and orange mochas were all pretty foul, and I don’t care if I get in trouble for saying that. People have told me that they appreciated my honesty. However, I probably (and here’s what’s difficult to understand for most people) like different things than you do. So, if you ask me if the Berry Chai is good, and I tell you it tastes like air freshener, but you proceed to order it and then enjoy it, then hey! Look at that! You didn’t need to ask me anyway.

“You know the mermaid logo? I’m the model for that. That’s me. And the guy who painted it, the owner of Starbucks, said that I could go to any Starbucks and get a free Frappuccino whenever I wanted. Can I have a free Frappuccino?”

Okay, so this isn’t a frequent question. It only happened once. But I still think it’s funny.

Oh, screw it.

11 05 2009

English major as of next semester?

Yeah, all right. Let’s do it.