Friday, May 9, 2014

Daiso (Meito) Kuchidoke White Chocolate

Most Americans grew up knowing the difference between Coca-Cola, RC Cola, and a store brand cola. We know that the store brand is a knock-off of Coca-cola and that it will be much cheaper, but inferior in taste and likely mouth feel (because of a variation in carbonation). RC Cola wasn't as bad as the store brand, but still a big step down from "the Real Thing" (aka Coke).

When you encounter brands from another country, you have little idea what is what. The big cheeses will eventually reveal themselves if you pay attention, and the lesser brands may or may not build their way into your brand awareness consciousness. Glico (Pocky), Lotte (Koala's March and Crunky), and Meiji (Hi-Chew and Meltykiss/Meltyblend) emerge as the premium consumer-grade snack makers. Meito, the manufacturer behind today's item, is definitely closer to the RC Cola level than the Coca-cola level. In fact, they're just a few steps up from store brand.

Rather ironically, Meito created this chocolate as a store brand item for Daiso. For those who don't know, Daiso is a 100-yen shop in Japan and has branches in the U.S. at which it typically sells items for $1.50. It is an awesome store in Japan with a lot of utilitarian and cool items. In the U.S., it's still pretty great, but the selection isn't nearly as good.

This product is clearly designed to have the look and feel of Meltykiss/Meltyblend chocolates. The packaging is similar as is the square-shaped chocolate in individual foil packets. Both are also dusted with cocoa powder on the outside and meant to resemble truffle-like chocolates. The main difference aesthetically is that the cocoa powder on the outside of these is much lighter in color than Meiji's Meltykiss. The use of "kuchidoke" or "melt in your mouth" is also meant to evoke the image of the more popular brand name product. Meltykiss is only sold in the winter because it's supposed to, well, "melt".

The first thing I noticed about this was that it was harder than a Meltykiss chocolate. The outer coating seemed more like a crisp shell dusted with cocoa powder that surrounded a core of plain white chocolate than the ganache/truffle-style experience of the competitor it seeks to emulate. I could tell by how hard it was to cut through and how the outer shell shattered that it was definitely not the same as a ganache or soft truffle chocolate. It does melt in your mouth, but not as a soft, yielding, fatty chocolate. It melts in the way that nearly any kind of chocolate would do so if you held it on your tongue long enough.

The flavor is actually quite good with a deep flavor of chocolate hitting you after it melts on your tongue for a moment. That is, I imagine, the outer coating melting away and the effect of the cocoa powder. The second flavor is less impressive and that's the white chocolate coming through. For at least a short time, it let's loose some cheap white chocolate flavor before it yields to a richer, creamier flavor. All in all, it's fine, but a mixed bag and certainly not on par with Meltykiss/Meltyblend in terms of quality.

There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with this chocolate taken on its own except for the fact that it doesn't live up to its promise either as a knock-off of Meltykiss or as a "melt in your mouth" experience. Given that Meltykiss in the U.S. costs $4.00 (usually) and this is $1.50, it may be unrealistic to expect better for such a low price. However, you can spend your money on something domestic which will be just as good if not better. Though I enjoyed these on a certain level, I definitely wouldn't buy them again and am not inspired to try the other varieties in the Daiso line - at least not at this time.


Shawn M said...

This was awesome. I never though about the concept of knockoff brands and imitators in other cultures (even though it now seems obvious).

Orchid64 said...

Why should America have all of the "fun"? Don't other countries also deserve crummy off-brand junk? ;-)