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.


8 comments:

Jack of all Hobbies said...

I love your reviews. Keep them coming.

If someone is dying for this, they could probably make use of the shopping service (you pick it, they mail it for a small percnetage and airmail shipping) at White Rabbit Press. I have used the service, and it works well, though shipping has become expensive.

Orchid64 said...

I'd hear of the White Rabbit service, but never tried it before. I'm not surprised that shipping is expensive. It's one reason I never started my own mail order business from Japan selling snacks despite the demand!

Thanks for reading!

Jack of all Hobbies said...

Probably the biggest downside to getting things from Japan is the shipping.
I can't complain too much about the price, but it seemed expensive to me.
They only ship by airmail, as it seems to improve the chances that you won't have to pay duty or other charges.
If you can't live without it (and there are some things from Japan that I can't, or won't) then it remails a viable optionl.
I suppose Rakuten would be about the same price.

Pawawanpi said...

Marukai-estore carries a big variety bag of Tirol chocos and Napa Japan has a few on sale too, including the choco banana.

Orchid64 said...

Thanks, Pawawanpi! I was aware of that store, but not that they carried any Tirol chocolates. It's too bad that they only offer the variety packs (which have very mundane choices with one special flavor only), but it's certainly a great resource!

Thanks for reading!

paperjellyfish said...

These are really good! They are 29 cents at my Nijiya Market. I don't know where Tirol chocolates are usually located in stores, but these were near the cashier.

paperjellyfish said...

These are really good! They are 29 cents at my Nijiya Market. I don't know where Tirol chocolates are usually located in stores, but these were near the cashier.

Orchid64 said...

Odd that yours were only 29 cents at Nijiya. They were also near the cashier at the Nijiya I went to, but were 49 cents! However, I think they're still worth it!

Thanks for reading and commenting!