Monday, October 22, 2012

Kanro Iyokan Gummy Candy

When I was growing up, there were basically two types of oranges in my life, navels and tangerines. Of course, there were more types of oranges around, but I was a kid and I didn't care. In fact, I didn't even like oranges until I went to Japan and found that their citrus was sweeter and tastier than what I had grown up with. In the winter in Tokyo, there were the working class little gems that we all know and love, mikan. Buying a big bag of those and getting them eaten before they started to dry out was a challenge my husband and I were happy to meet. My students never had any problems. Some people told me they'd sit down and eat 6 or so at one sitting. One middle-aged lady grabbed the spare tire at her mid-riff one day and told me that she had eaten an entire bag of them in one day.

Japanese citrus may begin with mikan, as they are cheap when in season and very accessible, but I discovered it didn't end there. Dekopon was the Cadillac of oranges for me and I hope one day to find the American equivalent here ("Sumo Citrus"). Nijiya supermarket is supposed to stock them, but I haven't found them yet and I'm not sure what their season is since their web site says that their 2012 season is over (whereas dekopon season is winter in Japan). I'm guessing that they will carry a luxury-car-size price when I finally do encounter them, especially since it seems fairly expensive markets stock them.

This candy is flavored like yet another type of Japanese citrus, iyokan. I had a few of these when I was still in Japan. Their main appeal is that they are fairly economical compared to other options. I think I used to get fairly decent sized ones for about 60 yen (76 cents) each at Seiyu supermarket, and found that, while serviceable, they did not fall within the range of fantastic citrus that dekopon did. Iyokan was the Volkswagon Beatle of the citrus world. I got what I paid for. It wasn't as sweet or flavorful, but I didn't pay about 150 yen ($1.89) for each one.

Hearts and stars. Next, it'll be moons and clovers.

Fortunately, what may not wow as fruit has greater potential as candy which can be augmented with sugar for sweetness and intensified by processing it. That is precisely what was done with these tangy, intense, and utterly delicious gummy candies. One bite tastes like a super juicy, sweet, but not too sweet orange. They have an excellent real citrus flavor which I imagine can be attributed to "iyokan concentrate" in the ingredient list as well as the wonderful tangy bite that comes from the coating of citric acid powder on the outside.

I loved these and would absolutely have them again. It helps that I enjoy the Pure line of gummies anyway (well, except the gross apple ginger ale one), which is odd since I don't really like other types of gummy candy. Note that the texture of these is a little tougher than some gummy candies, though it depends a lot on how warm they are. If you want to soften them up, put them in your pocket and sit on them for a little while. I wouldn't recommending microwaving them or anything. They'd probably catch on fire and I'm not going to be responsible for any stupidity induced accidents, so don't come crying to me if you burn your house down while attempting to impatiently warm these up. Getting back to the point though, this is absolutely one of the best of Kanro's Pure gummy flavors that I have ever had. I can't imagine that anyone who likes orange-flavored sweets would be disappointed in this, but, again, don't sue me if you don't like them. It's not like I'm issuing any guarantees here.

I got this candy courtesy of Sakura Box (that means "free") as part of their "monthly candy bag" which I reviewed last Friday. This is part of a new flavor line that Kanro is offering (along with cassis), so those in Japan ought to be able to pick it up for the time being at local shops. I imagine it won't be around as a staple flavor (like lemon or grape) though as it's a seasonal type of flavor. Get it while you can.


zyzzyva said...

We've bought Sumo at Whole Foods and Safeway in the past. I don't remember the prices being much higher than other varieties.

I'm on the eternal search for something than can compare to my grandfather's tangerines (perfectly sweet with loose skin that's easy to peel). Sumo peels great, but the flavor isn't quite right. I thought they tasted more like Mandarin oranges than tangerines.

miyazaki said...

There's a vendor at the Ferry Plaza farmers market in SF that grows a variety of mandarin called Gold Nugget, or "Pixie" as they sell them. They are the best little orange I have ever had! I wait every year around March to buy them...seedless, sweet and crisp.

Pertinent to the topic, growing up all we had were Brach's "orange" slices candies. Yeh, say no more.