Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Kinsei Purple Potato and Sweet Potato Jellies
In what I have to imagine is a last gasp of seasonal treats for winter, I came across this bag of purple and sweet potato jelly candies at Seiyu supermarket. The front of the bag touts the fact that they have potato "paste" in them. I'm not certain how one makes "potato paste", but it doesn't sound appetizing. Nonetheless, seeing these little jewel-colored cubes of candy through the clear plastic package drew me in.
Like many of these relatively unglamorous types of candies, these are made by a "no name" company which doesn't have a web presence. I couldn't research anything about them and I can only say that their logo and name, Kinsei (金成), are unfamiliar to me.
Most of the hard candy, jellies, and manju that are sold in clear plastic packages in bigger markets are made by such companies and they're the final frontier in Japanese snack adventuring. They're far less likely to be constructed in the same manner as European-style treats or contain familiar flavors and they're a bigger mystery to those who are unfamiliar with Japanese snacks. I like to try these types of things, but I often feel they are of far lesser interest to my readers than things like Pocky, Japanese KitKats, chocolates, and Hi-Chew. Also, frankly, I can't eat them fast enough to sample them constantly as they tend to be in family-size bags.
There were 15 candies in my bag and 10 were purple potato and only 5 sweet potato. I don't know if this was just the luck of the draw, or intentional. It did seem like quite an uneven distribution though. I had to calculate the calories based on the weight of the entire bag because the information was only given as per 100 grams. Each candy is about 31 calories.
When you unwrap a jelly, it has what looks like an over-sized thin bit of plastic film wrapped around the sticky cube. The film is edible rice wrapping which is similar to the coating on medical gel caps. I had to figure this out by tearing some off and putting it in my mouth to see if it'd melt. It doesn't add any taste, but it is an odd texture sensation to bite through what feels like thin cellophane wrapping. It's hard to escape the feeling that you were too stupid to take off the wrapper. Soon enough, the wrapper has melted away though.
Both of the jellies are firm, but not rubbery. They are easy to bite into and chew. The texture seems strange at first, but I quickly got used to it and rather liked it. It's like a very chunky version of a classic Western-style fruit gem without all of the sugary coating. It also turned out that it didn't matter how many yellow and purple cubes there were as they did not taste appreciably different. Both had a nice sweet potato flavor, were quite sweet, but not too over the top and the exact same texture.
I really liked these. In fact, the more I ate them, the more I enjoyed them and thought one or two were a great sweet to have with a cup of tea. If you like sweet potato and jelly candies, definitely give these a go if you run across a bag of them. The only thing keeping these from getting a "very happy" rating is the wrappers. I wish they were more carefully wrapped so that the excess didn't stick out around the cube and make you think you were eating plastic.