Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Yotchan Tiger Brothers Plums
One of my students told me a story awhile ago about a friend of hers. When the friend was a child, she wanted to have some more "umeboshi" at dinner. Umeboshi, or pickled plums, are like pickled green olives back home. They're small and salty and are generally eaten in small quantities. Her mother didn't want her to have more because they have so much sodium and too many are bad for your health.
My students friend had a bout of night eating on the evening that her mother said no to her umeboshi desires. She sleep-walked to the kitchen and ate an entire jar of them. Her mother took her to the hospital the next day because she was afraid all of that salt might kill her. She was given fluids and lived, and her mother decided not to deny her second and third helpings on the pickled plums anymore.
One wouldn't think something which is equivalent to an olive would be something kids would go for, but I found this pack of 3 pickled plums in the kid's snacks section. It was next to the marble choco and curry corn snacks. This pack was 21 yen (25 cents) and is made by a company called "Yotchan". They make a lot of very cheap kid's snacks that could be included in these two weeks of weird because most of it is gnarled seaweed, plum, and various bits of contorted, dried out bits wrapped in plastic. Note that these pickled plums are dyed and the company also sells a version which is grayer and less colorful which are not visually enhanced.
Since I've been in Japan for a long time, and I've been in my share of restaurants, I've had umeboshi before. The truth is that I rather like the ones I've had. They're sour and sometimes mushy and somethings a quite firm (almost hard). They have a distinctive smell which is hard to relate to anything one has experienced back home. It's mainly a combination of the plum scent and a quasi-vinegary smell, but these are not made with vinegar.
These pickled plums are the firm type, and they have a pit inside of them. They're very hard, like an unripened peach. They're sour and salty like most umeboshi, but they also have a weird sweetness to them which I haven't encountered in these before. One of the ingredients is Stevia, and I really don't think it's doing anything for these.
Even though I like umeboshi, I didn't like these because of that strange sweetness. I'm also more of a fan of the softer pickled plums than the hard ones, though I generally find the harder ones okay as well. I wouldn't buy these again, and I don't plan to eat the rest of them.
If you're interested in some desktop wallpapers with Yotchan's mascot, you can download some here.
If you'd like to share your experiences with weird foods and enter a contest for a chance to win a silly prize, please read this post and make a comment.