Monday, July 20, 2009
Matsuri (Festival) Hi-Chew
There are a lot of things that make a festival a festival in Japan. There are games for kids where they can win balloons and goldfish. There are colorful streamers. Of course, there is food. Cucumbers and wienies on sticks are some of the simpler fare. There's also a lot of disgusting seafood crap, ramune (Japanese soda drinks), rice balls, corn on the cob, dango, Japanese sno-cones (kakigori) and grilled chicken on sticks (yakitori). And, there is usually one vendor carrying cotton candy. (And, for the record, it was a hassle locating and linking in all of those pictures, so I hope you appreciate my efforts!)
Honestly though, cotton candy isn't nearly as a big a deal at festivals in Japan as it is in carnivals in the U.S. That being said, I'm guessing a lot of the other foods you find at festivals wouldn't make for a very good Hi-Chew candy. Incidentally, "cotton candy" in Japanese is "watagashi".
Though the cotton candy on the package is blue, the candy itself is white with little golden brown flecks. The flecks are a hard sugar toffee-style bits. I'm not sure what they have to do with cotton candy, but they make for a strange textural experience. Usual Hi-Chew is like gum that quickly melts away in your mouth. This is like gum with tiny shards of hard candy embedded in it. I sort of liked it, but it spoiled it for my husband. He didn't like the textural incongruity.
The taste is a little like some sort of sugar candy, but cotton candy is really just heated, spun sugar and doesn't carry much of a flavor anyway. The taste is good, but I can't really pin down a particular flavor except for the brown sugary finish of the toffee bits. I think this is also a bit sweeter than the usual Hi-Chew.
I liked this a lot and would definitely buy it again, but it probably won't be around for long. Note that this is a "New Days" only product, so you have to pick it up at one of those convenience stores. I'm not sure that it is going to be everyone's cup of tea. Even Hi-Chew fans might find the departure from the regular texture and fruit flavors to be a problem, but I'd recommend at least giving it a try.