Monday, October 6, 2008
Puré Blueberry Gummy
As a kid, I don't recall ever eating a gummy bear or any of the other popular forms of gummy. In fact, the only gummy I recall were fish that could be bought as penny candy back when such a thing existed. To be fair about my age, I'm not that old. Penny candy died out before I was 10 years old and it was never really good penny candy. You could get one gummy fish for a penny or a really tiny lame gumball, but you couldn't get a Reese's miniature for anything less than a nickel.
Because I never craved gummy (or gummi, if you like) and I value my teeth too much to eat a lot of sugary candy, I rarely try such things, but the idea of something fruity caught my fancy today at the store and I found this little 46 gram (1.6 oz) bag of sweets. These candies are made by Kanro which has the tagline, "a fairytale in your mouth." I'm not sure if that's supposed to be enchanting or scary. I guess it depends on which fairytale it is. If it's the three little pigs, I'm guessing we're talking mouthwatering pork products. If it's Snow White, it could be dwarven ale (good) or poison apples (bad). I shudder to think what I'd be tasting if it's Rumpelstiltskin.
Kanro makes a lot of candy made from sugar syrup rather than sweets like cookies, cakes, or chocolates. It's also a relatively small company compared to some of the bigger guns in the Japanese confectionery business. They make hard candies and throat lozenges as well as these gummies. In fact, I've been a regular consumer of one of their herbal sugar-free lozenges during most of my stay in Japan. These lozenges are quite effective, though they still seem to have the power to make my teeth ache despite being sugar-free. These Puré brand candies appear to be the only brand of gummy they make and come in four flavors, blueberry, pink grapefruit, lemon and grape.
The English on the bag says of Puré blueberry gummy says "blueberry juice that is sweet-sour tasting with the texture of fruit." This statement is half true. These candies are sweet and sour, but the only way they have the texture of fruit is if you're talking about something which resembles thick fruit leather. These gummi feel soft when you squeze them with your finger, but are tough to bite into. It's very hard to bite one in half and then you have to chew on it for a bit to warm it up so it softens. By the time that happens, it's all nearly dissolved in your mouth.
The candies are covered in citric acid powder, but it looks like good old coarse bits of sugar. In fact, one reason I bought these is that they resembled Sunkist fruit gems. Trust me when I say the similarities are all superficial. These are nothing like a fruit gem either in taste or in texture.
When you give the bag a sniff, it smells sour and not overly fruity or perfumey. It doesn't smell much like blueberries, but it does smell a bit like some sort of fruit. Each candy is vaguely heart-shaped. When you first bite into it, you're hit full on with the sour notes, but that gives way to an increasingly sweet taste and finally a pleasantly perfume-like berry taste. The experience is very nicely multi-layered and vastly different from my experience with generally sweet American "blueberry" candy. It's as if the candy changes as you masticate it. This keeps it from being too sweet or too sour.
The ingredients for this are relatively predictable. They include sugar, water, gelatin, concentrated blueberry juice, and pectin. Vitamin C and Calcium are also added in to enhance nutritional value. Each candy is 12.3 calories and has 2.88 mg of Vitamin C. Though you hardly would scarf down the whole small bag at one go, you could easily snack your way through one throughout a day if you kept them in your desk drawer.
I didn't expect to like these much, but I really did enjoy them. They are much closer to the experience of eating a real blueberry taste-wise than I expected. While I'm still not a fan of the rather tough texture, I'll probably buy these again some time when I'm in the mood for a fruit-flavored candy and feeling reckless about my teeth. I recommend giving them a try if your run across them.