Monday, August 24, 2009
Hungry's Maple Caramel Chewing Candy
Sometimes I run across something which makes me very curious about exactly what it is. This item appealed to me on two fronts. First of all, what the heck is "chewing candy"? Second, it has a weird name. Why would anyone name this "Hungry's"? One of these questions could be answered by making the purchase and sampling the product. The other will remain a relative mystery.
This is made by mega-food maker Meiji, but it appears to be a separate division which handles gum, hard candies, caramels, and small children's toys that are sold in the candy section of Japanese markets (among other things). The fact that Meiji is so huge that they separate out their candy and gum section from the chocolates and other products is a good indication of how huge they are.
I found this candy at a discount snack shop. This was the first time I had ever encountered it. It's smallish, about 10 cm long (about 4 in.) and 2 cm wide (.8 in.) and only cost 28 yen (about a quarter). I noticed that the package doesn't really give you a good idea of what the candy is going to look like. You can see an illustration of a portion of it hidden behind the logo on the right. When you see the candy, you can see why they are trying to draw more attention to the maple syrup aspect on the left. It's not a pretty sight.
I didn't take a picture of a cross section of this because it looks the same inside as the end you can see in the picture above. You can see that little bits of something are studded in the "log" of stuff this is made of. The ingredients include almonds, hazelnuts, pineapple, and mango. I'm guessing that these little specs are a mixture of those things.
This smells vaguely sweet with a whisper of maple. It's quite tacky to the touch so it's best to eat it from the wrapper. When I took my picture, I put it on a tissue and it stuck to it (but I was able to pry it off). The texture, smell and general sense of this is like a softer Bit-O-Honey bar. If you've never had that, the texture of this is like a nougat crossed with taffy. It's easy to bite into and chew. It neither goes down like a caramel because it doesn't tend to have that slick, melting away feel nor like a Hi-Chew because it lacks that latex-like chewing gum feel. The flavor doesn't really carry much of the fruit bits or nuts. It has a nice maple flavor. It's sweet, but not throat burning or overbearing. Since maple sugar is the first ingredient, this is not surprising.
As for the name, I believe it is supposed to imply that you can eat this when you're hungry. The fruit and nuts bits are supposed to make this a more fortifying experience. I don't know if that is actually true, I only know that I liked it and would definitely buy it again. For 28 yen, it's a steal.