We understand that some things that our culture considers strange or nightmarishly insane are perfectly normal in a place like Japan – and vice versa. We will, for instance, put literally anything on a pizza. It's just that at some point you have to draw the line. For us, that line starts at tomato and stink fruit taffy.
Don't get us wrong, there's a lot to love about Japanese culture. They brought us Hello Kitty and giant fighting robots and and Ultra-HD TVs. We love their sushi and ramen noodles; they love our Pizza Hut and Burger King. By and large, our two proud nations exist in parallel harmonies. But as far as novelty candy goes, it really seems like their train ran off the tracks somewhere back in the industry's formative years. It's true that at one point America was peddling candy cigarettes to our own children but that pales in comparison to the Japanese novelty candy magnates who encouraged people to actually pay money to suck liquid sugar out of a frothing toilet bowl. And if you think that's as ghoulish as it gets, then you are in for one unpleasant surprise. For example, here are ten insane Japanese candies that will live in your nightmares forever.
1. Morinaga Hi-Chew Durian Candy
According to one retailer, Morinaga Hi-Chew Durian "is a super chewy candy made with the unique flavor of Durian. It has a similar texture to taffy or bubblegum, but in [sic] never loses its flavor."_x009d_
If that doesn't sound too bad, then you clearly have never tried Durian. Popular throughout Southeast Asia, this hedgehog-shaped fruit has been characterized as smelling like "road kill wrapped in sweaty socks"_x009d_ with the chum-like consistency of rotten bananas. Known as the world's stinkiest fruit, the Durian has literally been banned from many high-end hotels in the region because it's putrid odor is enough to make uninitiated tourists retch as they walk through the lobby.
To put the Durian's taste in perspective, it is one of only two foods that Bizarre Foods' Andrew Zimmern refuses to eat. This is a man who has happily shoveled down filthy entrails and still-living insects on camera and even he can't bring himself to down more than a handful of the Durian's fruity corpse pudding before conceding defeat.
Now that never-ending flavor is starting to sound less like a selling point and more like a punishment, isn't it?
2. Japanese Pepsi
Everybody loves soda, the Japanese included. But their definition of "soda"_x009d_ is much broader than our own. This explains why Pepsi has, in the past 10 years, released different limited edition sodas that taste like strawberry milk (Pepsi Pink), cucumber (Pepsi Ice Cucumber), yogurt (Pepsi White) and beans (Pepsi Azuki). Their most recent offering was Pepsi Salty Watermelon in 2012, which invited consumers to unleash the "refreshing taste of summer"_x009d_ with an overdose of sea salt-blasted watermelon.
Maybe the fact that each of these flavors failed to earn a permanent spot on the shelf is a testament to the Japan's determination to hold on to whatever tatters of sanity it has left, but we think the fact that they ever made it to production is much more telling.
3. Candied Squids
As an island nation, it's only sensible that seafood comprises a major portion of Japanese cuisine. It's not the squid we have a problem with, though – it's the guy who thought it would be a great idea to candy these aforementioned squid and sell them as desserts at street stalls and convenience stores that has us all squirmy.
Just look at that thing, it's almost as if it's daring you to bite into it and thus taste oblivion. Surprisingly (or not, depending on how disillusioned you are at this point), the candied squids are reportedly not sweet. Instead they come in a variety of appetizing flavors like Kimchi and Cod Roe.
4. Gokujyo Brown Sugar Karinto
There's nothing inherently off-putting about the Brown Sugar Karinto's ingredients. These popular Japanese snacks are simply fried wafers that have been slathered caramelized brown sugar. We'd totally eat that – and so would you. The problem is that these tasty treats happen to look just like, well, poop. And we don't mean they sort of kind of look a little like poop. These things could be used as a prop in a Hollywood movie.
If you were down the street and saw a batch of Brown Sugar Karinto piled on a Tiffany serving tray, you would think some artful vagabond was trying to make a statement about the evils of the class system. That said, if you can get past the appearance, they really are delicious.
5. Sasebo Burger Drops
Cold season got you down? Soothe that sore throat with the cooling taste of hamburger. But seriously though, hamburger drops exist and from what we've read, they taste horrible. Some reviewers have likened their taste to that of scorched cheese or frozen burger fat.
Unless chewing on frozen beef patties is your thing, it's probably better if you just stick to mint and honey drops this winter.
6. Roasted Baby Crabs
Potato chips are so passé. If you're looking for a savory snack that's also high in protein, may we suggest you try a nice bag of roasted and seasoned baby crabs?
If you've ever wondered what the fishing industry does with all of those crabs in the nets that are too young to sell individually, you're looking at it.
Baby crabs whose shells are still soft are baked whole, freeze dried, dunked in sake and then candied in a sweet sesame glaze.
Brutal maybe, but they're also quite tasty from what we've read. According to daring food bloggers, these crabs have a crunchy texture with a sweet and briny taste that pairs well with beer and sake. We're going to go ahead and take their word for it.
7. Tomato Chocolate
If you've made it this far into the blog post, it probably shouldn't surprise you that something as bizarre as tomato chocolates exist in Japan. Manufactured by the regal-sounding Delicious Eagle Confection Company, this alluring new treat supposedly pairs the "harmony of sweet and sour tomato and white chocolate."_x009d_
Apparently, these things taste exactly like you would imagine chunked tomatoes coated in low-grade white chocolate would taste, which is chalky and kind of gross. If you want to try the horror for yourself, though, you'll have to wait until Valentine's Day, as the Tomato White Chocolate Candies are a seasonal treat meant for romance. Or something like that.
8. Poppin' Cookin' Candy Kit Gummies
One of the big novelty trends in Japanese candy these days are kits that allow you to make your own candy by mixing up some powdered gelatin and curing it in a disposable plastic mold. Each kit comes with several different colors/flavors of gelatin and you can find molds for just about everything imaginable, from cute and cuddly animals to imitation fast food to um, mature recreations of the human anatomy.
But it's not the finished product that we find so insane – it's the construction process itself. Just look at this GIF: (it's been removed :( )
The initial pour of powder into the curing syrup creates what can only be described as some sort of semi-sentient Jell-O flatworm. It's basically just a huge pile of grape snot – and you're eating it, albeit in the form of a lion head or hamburger.
9. Giant Eel Pretzels
If you're as into candy as we are, there's a good chance that you know Pocky. Invented in 1966 by Glico, these candy-coated biscuit sticks – available in chocolate, almond, strawberry and a multitude of other flavors – have become as internationally renowned as anything ever produced by Hershey, Cadbury or the other candy giants. They're a pop culture icon in Japan and millions of packages have been sold in basically every civilized country in the world.
What you might not know, though, is that Glico also produces a sister line of stick snacks called Pretz. Unlike Pocky, which feature sweet candy coatings, Pretz are uncoated and come in mostly savory flavors.
And what you probably don't want to know is that one of these flavors is Eel. Yes, Eel, the sea creature. According to Asian Food Grocer, a giant-sized box of these fishy snacks is "more than enough to sate your eel cravings"_x009d_ because "roasted eel extract gives this Giant Pretz a satisfying kick that may be hard to resist."_x009d_
Just let that sink in for a minute.
10. Heart Moko Moko Toilet Candy
We've covered some pretty bizarre stuff in this article so far but none of it can compare to the granddaddy of them all – the infamous Japanese Toilet Candy. The brainchild of the brilliantly deranged Heart candy company, the Moko Moko toilet is the best way to enjoy snack time while simultaneously alienating your friends, family and any mothers with small children who happen to be passing by at the time.
We're not going to sugarcoat it – this is basically the stuff of nightmares.
To enjoy this diabolical snack, you first have to assemble the toilet like a piece of IKEA furniture. Then you add one of two included flavoring packets to the rear tank, pour in some water and wait. After about ten minutes, the contents will come frothing into the bowl like some sort of industrial sewage accident. When everything is good and bubbly, you simply need to whip out the included drinking straw and suck it all down in defiance of the Health Board, the general public and everything your parents ever taught you about personal hygiene.
You can't really appreciate the horror of all this without seeing it for yourself. So watch this video:
And if you think the fun stops when the toilet bowl is empty – think again. There are four different toilets that kids can collect as well as a line of poop-colored Jello that you can use to refill the toilet when you run out of mix.
That's not just unsettling, that's marketing genius. Which in a way is kind of worse.
Embrace The Madness
At the end of the day, people like the candy that they like. If that candy happens to made of baby crabs or an anthropomorphic toilet then who are we to judge? So what do you think – are these Japanese treats insanely good or just plain old insane? Let us know in the comments below!
We'll even make you a deal. If you post a video of yourself trying one of the treats on this list, we'll share it with our friends and followers socially to help make you Internet famous. Just don't blame us if you start speaking in tongues and channeling the spirit of Yog-Sothoth.
Additionally, if you think Japanese novelty candy is crazy then you need to see what America's been up to over the past half-century. Here's a hint – chocolate cigars exist. Check out our Novelty Candy Collection and peruse the best of the bizarre that the USA has to offer.
Good Night and Good Luck,
The ACS Team
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