Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Shoei Delicy Crunch Chocolate
One of my earliest memories of shopping for snacks in Japan is of this particular chocolate bar. It used to be sold at a convenience store nearby that was called "L & W". Those initials stand for "Liquor & Wine". The store was about a two-minute walk (tops) from our apartment and in addition to booze, they sold various snack foods.
They were one of the few shops two decades ago that was open past 7:00 pm and we were on a "English school (eikaiwa) teacher's schedule" at the time. That means we started work at 1:00 pm and finished around 9:00 or 10:00 pm. While the markets were long-closed by the time we got home, the liquor shop was usually open and a popular place to browse for our early experiences with Japanese food. They converted to a "Sankus" ("Thanks") convenience store after about a decade. Eventually, the elderly owners went out of business entirely as the glut of convenience stores in our area pushed them out. It was rather sad because they were in business for about 15 years of our time here and we frequently went to the shop. It's funny the things one little candy bar can make you remember.
When we first purchased this bar, for what I'm guessing was about 30 yen (33 cents) as that is about what it costs now, we couldn't read Japanese and it was a surprise to learn that it was a small chocolate crunch bar. It's pretty small at 9 cm x 5 cm (3.5 in. x 2 in.) and kitschy with its Japanese money motif. I don't recall if we bought it often, but I do know we bought it at least several times because it was so approachable among Japanese snack foods. We bought this bar at Seiyu supermarket, but you can probably find it in any store with a fairly large kid's sweets section.
This candy is small and cheap with a little card in it that is a fake 1000 yen bill that is a good miniature representation of a real bill, except for the fact that the fake bill says "kid's bank" on the back of it. So, it's pretty obviously designed for children. That means that one can't expect much from the quality of the candy. A lot of kid's candy is too sweet and poorly made.
When you open the package, the chocolate smells like sweet chocolate, and has a surprisingly appealing scent. The texture is a little soft, but firmer than many Japanese chocolates. I noticed that cocoa butter is not on the ingredients list for the chocolate. It has "cocoa powder" and "cocoa mass". My guess is that it is, perhaps, not as fatty as some other brands, and the flavor is definitely not as intense as some other Japanese chocolates. The crunchies are quite good, but not terribly crisp, and there could be a few more of them.
It's actually quite a decent candy and pleasantly mild. It's a better quality, less sweet candy for kids than the usual kid's sweets, though it's certainly not on par with the big ticket company's (Meiji, Lotte, Morinaga) consumer chocolates that are designed with a broader market in mind. For a cheap candy though, this is not a bad crunch bar at all, and makes for a nice Japan-specific souvenir to parcel out to more timid sorts back home. I'd certainly buy this again if I was in the mood for a crunch bar. In fact, I'd buy it before a Crunky because it's smaller and the puffs are just regular corn puffs instead of malt puffs and carry only texture and no flavor.