Monday, September 3, 2012
Tirol Premium Choco Banana
I thought that my days of reviewing Tirol chocolates were over when my airplane left Narita airport on March 29, 2012. I figured that, of all of the things which might be imported, these tiny little squares of 20 yen (26 cents) chocolate would not make the cut. This is because they melt easily, have a low profit margin, and they are not famous among foreigners so people wouldn't know what to make of them when they saw them in stores, unlike KitKats.
The truth is that finding KitKats hasn't exactly been easy in America either, despite the relatively high level of interest in exotic Japanese KitKat flavors. Even places that carry a lot of imported Japanese items tend to focus on sembei (rice crackers), Pocky, and various cooking ingredients rather than on candy bars. I did, however, finally make my way to a major chain of Japanese markets and discovered not only overpriced Japanese KitKats ($7 for a bag of minis), but also this flavor of Tirol candy. Of course, these cost 49 cents and were nearly double their Japan price, but I wasn't going to quibble when I wasn't the one who had to fly over to Japan and keep the box on my lap on the way home. Also, I'm good with making an investment of about 50 cents to sample something and not so happy about $7 (548 yen, not too different from the retail price of a bag of them in Japan, but no one pays the retail price) on a KitKat flavor that is just a small step removed from what I've tried before. Incidentally, the KitKat flavors on offer were green tea, vanilla ice cream and raspberry, all of which I've had in other iterations before.
This is quite a sophisticated little piece of candy for something you buy in a plastic and foil wrapper in a market. I was impressed that it had four different layers. The outside is a very thin shell of white chocolate. Under the top surface is chocolate syrup with a small amount of banana goop under it. The bottom is a semi-sweet chocolate and the center is a marshmallow. The flavor depth on this is quite surprising. You get banana, which tastes good and as close to "real" as I've had in a such a sweet and a deep semi-sweet chocolate (very reminiscent of Hershey's syrup) which is properly balanced. This actually tastes like a real chocolate banana, but it has the added pleasures of the texture and compactness of chocolate.
Each candy is 49 calories for about a 1" (2.54 cm.) square and is well worth the sugar investment if you're a fan of chocolate-covered bananas. I found these at Nijiya Market in Mountain View, CA. Nijiya has shops in many cities in California as well as one in New York and a few in Hawaii. The package design led me to believe that it was a summer release (the fans) and Tirol's web site lists this as a current variety that one can purchase in convenience stores in Japan. Unfortunately, I know of no mail order options for this or any other Tirol candy. Nijiya has an online shop, but snacks don't tend to be listed there.
This was much more tasty than I expected, particularly since I tend to be unimpressed by banana candy. I love bananas, but find that infusing it into candy tends to be nasty. This worked and I'd definitely buy it again.
Incidentally, if you are interested in some cute wallpapers, you can download them from Tirol's web site here.