Friday, May 28, 2010
Clearin' Sugarless Nodo Ame Fruit
I used to teach a lesson on giving advice where I would give students a sequence of problems and they had to make a statement advising me on how to deal with the problem. One of the problems that I'd mention was, "I have a sore throat". The students often would say, "you should eat some candy." No, the students weren't thinking I'd be happier if I ate a little candy, though honestly I've always found chocolate ice cream to be the bee's knees for sore throats. You get both the chocolate enjoyment and the cooling ice cream.
The recommendation to have candy is the result of a literal translation of "nodo ame" or "throat candy". It's obviously what we'd call throat lozenges or drops. That being said, my experiences in Japan with throat soothing drops has been less than impressive. There seem to be two kinds of drops for sale. Either they are so strongly herb-packed and medicinal that they taste utterly vile or they are so weak that they might as well be lollipops. If you want sugar-free drops to spare your tooth enamel, your options are even worse.
There is one variety that I rely on which is made by Kanro. Unfortunately, this variety is somewhat difficult to locate at times, so I occasionally sample something new. While I was perusing a variety of convenience stores, I came across this pack of Clearin' fruit-flavored drops by Teicalo at Family Mart for 198 yen ($2.14). I've had one variety of Teicalo's drops before and enjoy the texture and taste of them, but find their herbal aspect too weak to feel like they help an inflamed throat. I was hoping these might be a bit better.
The ingredients in these include: Reduced maltose syrup, fruit juice (apple, grapefruit, lemons, grapes), herbal extracts, isomaltose, vitamin C, flavorings, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and emulsifiers. It's pretty much in line with what you might expect from a sugar-free candy. Each candy is 9 calories and there are 22 of them in the bag.
The drops themselves are quite beautiful. They're partially clear with a gradient of bright color on the opposite side. The design is meant to release the herbal aspects more clearly and potently, but I don't know if it can really work like that. I do know that you taste the fruit more potently if you put the colored side down on your tongue.
grape: The grape flavor strongly reminds me of the cheap grape lollipops that I used to get as a kid. I'm talking about the kind on a white stick or a white loop of stiffened fiber that cheap people gave you for Halloween or the doctor gave you after poking you with a needle. There was the tiniest hint of some sort medicinal herbal flavor, but mainly, it was just a mundane piece of candy.
grapefruit: This one had a bit more bite and that telltale grapefruit bitterness. The herbal aspect shone through a bit more as well.
lemon: The lemon has a nice citrus bite and also is similar in herbal essence to the grapefruit. It was my favorite both in terms of flavor and the feeling that it had a medicinal impact.
green apple: Like the grape, this reminded me of a cheap lollipop with an herbal edge.
My feeling is that the herbal content of each is likely the same, but the impact on your sinuses is different based on the intensity of how you sense it. Those drops with a more intense herbal bite feel more helpful, even if they may not necessarily be more helpful. After sampling all four drops, my tongue felt pretty saturated with the herbal flavoring, but I don't think these helped my throat much more than simply chewing gum or sucking on any type of candy might have helped.
These weren't bad at all as fruit candy, though they weren't great as lozenges. If you're sensitive to strong herbal flavors and are hard-pressed to find a palatable throat drop, these might do in a pinch, but I wouldn't recommend them. Mainly, they're like sugar-free, slightly herbal lollipops.