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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Tomato Pretz 06:07 PM -- Thu September 19, 2013  

Tomato Pretz
7/10 YUMS
We have another snack today! You can't eat candy all the time. Pretz is the savory version of Pocky. Just like Pocky, it's a long thin dry cracker stick - the exact same stick used in Pocky in fact. The only difference is what they put on that stick. And in the case of Tomato Pretz, what they put on the stick is a tomato powder. I think I taste a little mustard in there, and of course there's some salt, but mostly it tastes of tomatoes. Well, mostly it tastes of cracker, but cracker with tomato on it. What it really reminds me of is those Chicken In A Biskit crackers.

These are pretty good. They're not going to blow your mind, but you can sit and snack away any old time. But then again, why buy expensive exotic Japanese crackers when you could get stuff like Chicken In A Biskit here in the US for a tenth of the price? I give this 7/10 Yums for its actual yumminess, but I don't recommend you get it, because it's cheaper and easier to get a local equivalent. This isn't doing anything you can't get elsewhere, except being long and skinny.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Crunch Chocolate 11:02 AM -- Wed September 18, 2013  

Crunch Chocolate
9/10 YUMS
"Baked Chocolate Snack" or "Crunch Chocolate" is all the name I can find for this (given that I can't read the actual name printed right on the bag!). These are a really strange endorsement deal... it's a Japanese candy, covered with Suzy Spafford's art. She is a well-known American cartoonist who just sort of makes happy cute animals. I didn't know Japan had a shortage of those, but apparently they do, so they imported Suzy's art to emblazon this treat with.

But the wrapping isn't what's important! What is inside? Well, it's a baked chocolate snack. Pretty much, it's that thing you can make where you take Corn Flakes and pour melted chocolate over them and stir them up and let them cool (like Krispie Treats, but subbing in chocolate for marshmallow and Corn Flakes for Rice Krispies). That's about it. The ingredients refer to "corn grits" but I bet that's a mistranslation of corn flakes. So it's nothing really surprising and new, it's just something very tasty. You probably know what corn flakes and chocolate taste like together, and now you can enjoy it in a little bag with a cute animal on it!

Like Tomato Pretz (oops, I changed order - you'll learn about those later), you can achieve these flavors quite easily locally. But these are really yummy. I give them 9/10 Yums because yay. They remind me of Gzacky a lot, and I like to be reminded of Gzacky, but they are clearly inferior to it as well. If you're going to get a baked chocolate snack from Japan, get Gzacky. You won't regret it!
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Panda Pocky 12:15 PM -- Tue September 17, 2013  

Panda Pocky
6.5/10 YUMS
Instead of the standard plain wheat Pocky stick, these Panda Pocky have a chocolate cracker stick, a little bit like the 'bread' of an ice cream sandwich, but more dry. Then the coating, to make it a panda, is a cookies & cream substance - white creamy stuff with chocolate cookie bits in it. I think the bits are actually Oreo material, but it's also possible they're just bits of what the stick is made of in the first place, which seems like a rip-off. As a bonus, the bags inside the box are decorated with very lovely cartoons of pandas waving Panda Pocky around.

This sounds like such a great idea, but it turned out to be a real disappointment. This is one of my least favorite Pockies! The chocolate sticks are not particularly sweet (regular Pocky sticks aren't sweet at all, but then they're not chocolate, are they?), and they break like crazy, they aren't nearly as sturdy as your standard Pocky. Then the coating is okay, but nothing special. There is a very distinct Oreo flavor to it all, but not nearly as tasty as actual Oreos. Almond Crush Pocky all the way, I don't need these pandas.

I give them 6.5/10 because they're okay, but other Pocky is so very much better.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Cheese Potato Snack 05:50 PM -- Mon September 16, 2013  

Cheese Potato Snack
6/10 YUMS
Look, it's a snack instead of a candy! These are pretty straightforward: Take Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles and roll them up instead of laying them flat (and wavy), and you have Cheese Potato Snack. They taste the same, with that really strong artificial cheese flavor which is salty and sort of good and sort of disturbing, and other than that they're potatoes. Each one is sort of a straw made of potatoes, empty in the middle.

These are kind of enjoyable, but that fake cheese flavor is at once both good and off-putting, so I rate them 6/10 Yums. Incidentally, the fake cheese flavor is at least partially cheese, probably mostly. But it still tastes fake to me!
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Pick Up 11:28 AM -- Sun September 15, 2013  

Pick Up
9/10 YUMS
Google Translate tells me that these are called "Strawberry Chocolate Pick Up". The English label declares this a "Chocolae Snack", which I will call a typo, although they're clearly not chocolate or chocolae. I am beginning to broaden my understanding of the word chocolate because the strawberry stuff which is present in many many different Japanese candies clearly IS chocolate texturally, it's just strawberry flavored instead of the standard chocolate flavor. Much like white chocolate, only it's pink chocolate. I like it, even though it's a fakey strawberry flavor.

The other odd thing about this stuff is that the ingredients list doesn't contain anything that appears to be the 'cracker' part of it (which to the best of my ability to taste is something of a rice cereal, like puffed rice chex), it's all sugar and chocolate ingredients and strawberry flavoring, and most oddly of all rosemary extract. I don't notice that flavor in there, but hey, interesting idea. I'm glad I don't notice it. The lack of rice in the ingredients is probably another oversight like "chocolae", because I'm quite positive that these crunchy bits aren't just solid sugar.

You know what's not odd about this? The yummification! They're just crispy and light and coated in a thick layer of strawberry goo that kind of softens them up a little, but not so much that they lose their crispiness. It's a little like eating cereal in strawberry milk, but you can trust it to never go soggy. Go pick up some Pick Up, you won't regret it. Although Sol Hunt says they're too squishy. 9/10 Yums from me!
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Chococone 01:23 PM -- Sat September 14, 2013  

10/10 YUMS
The English label slapped on the back of this calls it "Baked Wheat Cracker With Chocolate", which is fair. It also mentions a translation for the big print on the front: Takenoko no sato, which Google Translate told me is "Village of Bamboo Shoot". That's pretty appropriate - I see a village on the box art, and a lot of bamboo. Although to be honest the styling on the candy itself doesn't look like bamboo at all, it's like pinecones. But my final comment on the confusing naming here is that I've had these before, in an English-labeled box, and those were called Chococones, so that is what I call them.

These are awesome. The idea is as simple as the label says: Baked wheat cracker with chocolate. But it's the cracker (cookie, really - this ain't no cracker) that is the secret. I still don't really know what's in there - I see almond paste in the ingredient list, and maybe that's the key to the unique flavor - but whatever it is, they taste like they're infused with coconut oil or something. They're greasy and yummy.

Also, the box is not terribly large, but it's packed really full of cones. I've been struggling not to finish these off since I had to write a review of them, but even so I feel like I've had many separate chomping sessions each full of lots of cones. I'm saying you get a lot of candy in the box. And it's good. 10/10 Yums. Eat Chococones every day, they bring you health and happiness.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Caplico 11:57 AM -- Fri September 13, 2013  

8.5/10 YUMS
As you can see in the picture, these appear to be ice cream cones. And they sort of are... They're almost astronaut ice cream cones. The cone part is just standard ice cream cone, although it's much skinnier (about five inches long, but not even an inch diameter at its widest). Inside, there is... stuff. Hmm. You know, I've been trying to figure out what it is, but as I sit here tasting it, I think it might actually just plain be chocolate, but it's whipped with tons of air, giving it a very light, fluffy consistency. They fill it all the way to the bottom, no gaps, which I appreciate. Although the filling is technically more air than it is food.

A word of warning: This is my second Caplico purchase. This one went great, but my first time (a couple weeks ago, along with the Noisy Lion), I got it shipped from Japan, and it was basically empty cones, with a few shriveled chocolate bits rattling around in them. That is, as I saw other people warn in their Amazon reviews, what can happen if your Caplico is shipped a long way in the middle of summer. These are fragile cuisine! That's why I wanted to try them again, and it is so much nicer to experience them fully functional.

There are 3 flavors in each box of Caplico - White chocolate on top with chocolate down inside, strawberry 'chocolate' on top with chocolate down inside, and chocolate all the way through. I think you get 3 of each flavor. I'm never a fan of mixing fruit flavors with chocolate, but the strawberry one is still pretty enjoyable, and the other flavors are quite good.

So it's good! It's not my favorite item I got, but I am always interested in chomping another Caplico, and each one is a pretty substantial size, unlike most of the other candies. I rate Caplico 8.5/10 Yums.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Almond Crush Pocky 12:18 PM -- Thu September 12, 2013  

Almond Crush Pocky
9/10 YUMS
Pocky is the classic Japanese candy (well, along with Yan Yan) - likely you can find this in your local grocery store in a few flavors. But Almond Crush Pocky is harder to come by. I've had it before a few times, and it's as awesome as the picture indicates. First of all, the basic facts on Pocky: An individual Pocky is a very thin and long cracker/cookie stick (almost a pretzel without the salt, very dry crispy 'bread'), about six inches long. Incidentally, so far I have also described Pretz, which is a snack rather than a candy. To turn this stick into Pocky, they dip it in something sweet, to make it Pretz, they coat it in something savory. You get a various number of Pocky per pack, and a various number of packs per box, depending on the flavor. It's about that simple!

Almond Crush Pocky is coated in a layer of chocolate, and just buried in little chunks of almond. So you have the cookie, a bunch of chocolate, and lots of almonds. Can't go wrong there! If you're wondering, it comes 4 sticks to a pack, and 6 packs in this particular size box (you get less per pack than with other flavors, probably because of the bulkiness of the almonds). 9/10 Yums every time. I think Almond Crush may be my favorite Pocky flavor, but we have 3 other flavors in our review line-up this month, so we shall see.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Every Burger 12:30 PM -- Wed September 11, 2013  

Every Burger
8/10 YUMS
I really want to just call this "Everyburger", because that works for me, but there is clearly a space in the name on the box, so I must respect that. So this box contains not just one burger, but EVERY burger! And it turns out that every burger is very very small, as you can see in the image. In addition to being small, it is adorable! There are two cookies for buns (and the top bun has little sesame seed dots you can barely see in the picture), surrounding a patty of chocolate, and what I guess is white chocolate for cheese.

Every Burger falls into that special category of Japanese candy where sure it tastes good - it's cookies and chocolate, not amazing, but I could certainly chow through a whole box no problem - but the real draw is the unstoppable cuteness of the tiny burgers. Kawaii candy! Some stuff is made with maximum yum in mind, others with maximum fun, and Every Burger is tilted straight into the fun column.

But with plenty of reasonable tastiness attached, I award this candy 8 Yums.
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  Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Gokujo Karinto Peanuts 11:53 AM -- Tue September 10, 2013  

Gokujo Karinto Peanuts (AKA Fried Cookie)
8/10 YUMS
Just a note: many of these packages are entirely in Japanese without any helpful hints aside from a little label the government forced them to slap on it when importing. I can't read a single character of Japanese, so I am entirely at the mercy of these labels in such cases. This one declares that these are called simply "Fried Cookie", but under that it suggests Gokujo Karinto Peanuts, which Google Translate doesn't handle well. A couple well-placed spaces got it to suggest "Ts bran pair with your extermination Karin", which I think is a fair description of this snack food.

So what is the bran pair? Well, it's basically the size, shape, and almost the consistency of Cheetos, but instead of cheese, it's infused with gallons of honey! And it's not made of corn like Cheetos are, it's wheat. And it has peanut bits stuck onto it. It's quite delicious, actually. They're very airy and crunchy, much like Cheetos, but all the honey and oil soaked into them (they are definitely fried!) also gives them a sticky, chewy layer. So they are crunchy, chewy, sticky, and very peanutty - there's a strong peanut taste. Too strong, I think. Peanuts are very distinctive. But despite the over-peanuttiness, they're really enjoyable, with a nice natural sweetness from the honey (even though corn syrup is higher on the ingredient list than honey...).

It's another recommendation from me. Eat Fried Cookie, or Karin extermination bran, whatever you prefer to call it. I rate it 8/10 Yums.
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