Friday, December 12, 2008
Choco Ball Peanut
Chocoballs have been around since 1967. The peanut variety is the original, but there are several other types around. All of them are sold in small boxes with variations on the theme shown on the box pictured above. The mascot, Kyorochan, is very well known and is meant to resemble a peanut.
Morinaga, which makes choco ball sweets, has stated that it is going to focus more on health food in the future because the market for products like this is eroding due to the birthrate in Japan becoming so low. I guess that elderly people aren't drawn to chocolates with cartoon mascots. Incidentally, Morinaga also produced Japan's first penicillin. With that sort of historical experience, maybe they can find some sort of medicinal treat to appeal to granny.
Fortunately, the market for the kid-focused candy hasn't disappeared enough to see the disappearance of choco balls. What appear to be mere chocolate covered peanuts are actually a pretty sophisticated treat with layers of care put into making them better than your average chocolate-coated legume. First of all, the peanuts are roasted so that they carry a deeper flavor. They are just short of having a "burnt" flavor so it's a pretty serious roast. Second, if you look very carefully at the broken ball above, you can see that there are actually three layers in each choco ball, not simply a chocolate coating and a peanut.
There is a wafer/cookie type coating around the small peanut in the center which adds to the crispiness. It may also stop the peanuts from absorbing moisture or color from the chocolate in a way only the tiny Morinaga angels who make these understand. Those little angels. They do good work.
The choco balls have a rich cocoa smell and an excellent texture. They are also multi-layered in taste in that you first get the roasted peanut flavor followed by a strong, rich chocolate flavor, though not a milky or dark one. Each box is 25 grams (.88 oz.) and contains about 20 or so little balls about the size of a peanut M & M. They're more uniform in shape though not exactly the same. One box has 145 calories and 9.5 grams fat.
These are very nice chocolates for something so low rent. One thing I've noticed is that there is some very high quality candy marketed at children in Japan. These would be a great thing to grab a bunch of and either send or take home as souvenirs, especially for kids or those who enjoy chocolate-covered nuts.