Monday, February 15, 2010
Tirol Rilakkuma Variety Pack
Since I'm not one to be obsessed with all things cute, I was relatively unfamiliar with the character of Rilakkuma until I started reading Shibuya 246. The character is the blog's unofficial mascot. To me, Rilakkuma seems like the next in a long line of cute Japanese characters that take people by storm. In my uneducated (about cute characters) mind, the cuteness crown was first worn by Hello Kitty and then passed on to Pikachu, and now is being worn by Rilakkuma. I seem to see more and more merchandise bearing the little bear's likeness everyday.
I haven't bought a Tirol variety pack for a long time because I've been so disappointed in them as of late, and I didn't buy this one either. This was given to my husband as a gift after he shared some KitKats with a student. Gift-giving in Japan is a lot like that. You give people things and they feel they need to balance the scale. I'm not sure what this cost, but a pretty good guess would be 100-150 yen ($1.12-$1.68) for 9 candies that are about 1 inch (2.54 cm) square.
The packet shows three flavors on the front: purin (custard/pudding), mitarashii dango (a type of Japanese sweet) and hot cake. This mix is typical for these variety packs in that there is one new and appealing flavor, hot cake in this case, and a couple of repeat flavors from the past. You have to get a bunch of flavors you've already had or don't want to get the one that you do want. I've seen the hot cake flavor (which is a new one) in other similar variety packs as well.
If you look at the picture above, you'll see that there are 4 chocolates cut in half and three of them are the same. Despite the fact that I opened 4 differently designed packages (one of each in the bag), I got mostly mitarashii dango flavor, one hotcake, and no purin. The packets have different cute pictures on them, but the flavors are not marked so I'm guessing that either by design or by random chance, I got almost all of one flavor.
I had sampled the mitarashii dango flavor before, and this time it seemed rather worse. Maybe it was my disappointment at getting so many of it and it being a flavor I reviewed before. It was identical in terms of texture. It had a gummy center with some dark sauce surrounded by white chocolate. I thought it had a very strong soy flavor mixed with intense sweetness whereas I detected bitter orange last time. It's a very strange mix and not very pleasant.
The hotcake is a white chocolate shell over a biscuit with a little syrup that has been absorbed by the cookie. It was very sweet with a very fake butter flavor and a lot of white chocolate. There was not much of a maple or syrup flavor. The cookie adds texture, but no taste.
I would review the purin, but there weren't any in the package.
I liked the hot cake one, though I'm not sure that I'd buy it even if I could get 9 or 10 in a package by itself. It's very sweet. The entire pack gets an unhappy rating because of the poor balance of flavors which constitutes false advertising and because I wasn't very fond of the mitarashii dango flavor. If you're a super fan of Rilakkuma, you might want to pick this up and keep it intact for the packets and their cute designs. Otherwise, I'd recommend giving it a wide berth.
The hot cake chocolate was also reviewed at Snack Love by ebidebby.