Review #25: Hokkaido Strawberry Caramel「イチゴミルクキャラメル」

16May10

Packaging:
I have seen this caramel online before I saw it on the shelf in Ichiban’kan. Just seeing the box online, I wasn’t tempted at all. In fact, I was kind of scared because of the picture of the grizzly bear and my inability to understand how a caramel could be flavored strawberry(or corn, or guarana).

And then I had the Yubari Melon Caramel, which told me what this one would probably be like as well. I love the tray, and how it just slides out. That way, I can keep on the plastic and keep the box nice. And also it controls my snackage amount.

There’s a little passage under the bear that says, “We would play in a forest and would catch the fish in a brook. There are wilderness on the earth. So we have to keep on protecting. We want to design our way of life in northern land Hokkaido.” Isn’t that nice? It gives me a feeling of a very clean, natural earth. Children playing in the brook during summertime. (いい気持ちですね.)

I didn’t really understand the grizzly bear at first, but after some research, I can sort of understand better. The grizzly bear is actually the “Ezo Brown Bear”. It’s name came from Hokkaido, which was formerly known as ‘Ezo’. This bear is the largest land mammal in 日本. (The adult bear can be as tall as 2 meters and weigh as much as 400 kilo.)  The bears reside in Hokkaido(北海度), among other places, and their population is declining, so effort is being made to protect them.

The bear is now especially scary to me, after reading the sad tale of the Sankebetsu brown bear incident. For those of you who already know the story, don’t you agree on how sad it was. This incident was the worst beat attack in the history of 日本. The Ussuri Brown Bear(was thought to be the けさがけ[Kesagake] who previously killed three women) attacked several houses, injuring many and killing seven people. It really is a sad, sad story. And now, I can’t stop thinking about it, it doesn’t help that I live about four blocks from the city zoo.

Rating: B

Cost:
Obviously the packaging wasn’t what caught my eye on this candy, but the price. The very cheap, on sale price for $.69 at Ichiban’kan. It was on the “must go” shelf along with the Fran because it was “close to expiration.” The expiration date is 05/2010 and I bought it at the end of March. (I don’t get it, do you?) Get it on sale at Asian Food Grocer for $1.50(the expiration date is May31,2010 though, so hurry!) You can also try to order it on the product page, but 1) It’s in Japanese, so you’ll have to be able to read it. And 2) I don’t know if they do overseas shipping. I can’t find any other places online, so all I can say is to check your local market for this candy if you want to try.

Taste:
Also on the shelf was the Guarana caramel of the same brand, but I wasn’t sure what guarana was(it probably would’ve been coffee-like flavored). So I decided to keep it safe and go for strawberry.

This caramel has  a creamy, artificial strawberry smell. The look of the caramel is kind of strange. It has lines horizontally and vertically making tiny boxes. To me, it reminds me of a close up picture of human skin. Because of the lines, and the color of the caramel. And that’s kind of off-putting.

When I had my first one, I thought it tasted kind of funny. (But I’ve learned that the first taste is not always the most accurate) Now, it’s better. The taste is good. But it’s not really a strawberry-flavor to me. The strawberry flavor doesn’t really shine through because it’s mostly a milky flavor with a small bit of tang. This is the kind of candy is more like something to munch on while you’re reading or working on something else, not a candy to sit down, concentrate on it and enjoy.

I like how the texture of these caramels aren’t the stick-to-your-teeth kind though. These caramels are softer and so they don’t stick to your teeth. They’re soft enough to chew it and then swallow.

Rating: B

Overall:
These caramels are pretty good, but they’re not something I would jump at getting.

Rating: B

Verdict: I don’t see myself getting these at regular pricing.

See, doesn't it look like skin?!


Rating Scale:
A+ = Perfect (I must all this snack in the world)
[B = Good, but nothing special]
C = Average
D = Bad
F = Inedible

Read Japanese Snack Reviews thoughts on this caramel here.

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