Thursday, August 19, 2010
Oshidori Milk "Cake"
When is a cake not a cake? Well, it's not a cake when it's a slab of hardened condensed milk. I have been intrigued by this product for quite some time. It has been in what I call the "Granny's snacks" section of Peacock Supermarket for over a year. I don't believe this is actually a snack for oldsters though. In fact, I think it is specifically designed for children but is in the section with old-fashioned treats.
For those who don't remember, "Granny's snacks" are what I call groups of unglamorous looking treats which are made by smaller companies. I call them that because they are the types of things which I think grandparents keep shoved in the back of a cabinet for months and dole out when grandchildren clamor for treats. I don't know that that is what happens when these are purchased. I just know that they are exiled to a different snack area than the more glamorous chocolates, Pocky, gum, and other items made by bit ticket companies like Lotte, Meiji, and Morinaga.
A package of 10 sticks of this milk candy cost 210 yen ($2.30). Each stick is 8 cm x 2 cm x. 4 cm (3.1" x .8" x .15") in size, and is 25 calories. They are made by a company called Takahata, which has a lot of the common ecological claptrap that many companies like to mention as part of their PR. The company makes handmade cheeses as well as a variety of these milk candies. I've only ever seen this "milk" variety, but they also have other types like chocolate, strawberry, yogurt and green tea.
I have had enough experience with "milk" flavored foods in Japan to know that these were going to taste like condensed milk. The point that I was most interested in understanding was the texture and the sweetness. The first ingredient is milk, followed by sugar. These are fortified with Vitamin E and the packaging advertises the fact that these are rich in Calcium. Each stick boasts 31 mg. of Calcium. To give you some perspective on the relative value of this food, I can tell you that an average adult needs 1000 mg. a day. Eating one of these is a drop in the bucket.
These sticks are hard, even though they look like they might be brittle. Breaking one in half with your hands isn't trivial, and biting into one feels a little like trying to shatter a hard candy with your teeth. I thought perhaps that one was supposed to suck on one like a hard candy, but that didn't seem to work. Not only don't they melt in your mouth very well, but they are the wrong shape. Maybe they're designed for young children to slobber over for a long period of time and take a long time to eat. The way in which they are sold doesn't seem to indicate that though. The multi-packs on the web site for this product look like souvenir packs for adults.
I actually liked these, despite the fact that I'm not over the moon about condensed milk flavor. They were lightly sweet and the flavor seemed relatively mild compared to other "milk" treats. I liked the texture and how they broke up when I bit into them, though frankly I was a little worried about what they'd do to my teeth. I can't recommend these for everyone. I think they're an acquired taste, but if you like condensed milk, they're definitely worth a sampling.