Friends, Romans, countrymen, and anyone from any country other than Italy or America who reads my blog, I am here today to talk about corn. Yes, I have spoken many times about how corn is the king of all grains and I will speak of it again as long as you don't start posting comments about how you're sick of me talking about corn and will quit reading if I keep up this nonsense.
One of the many things I learned from life in Japan (and I've learned so much, including the fact that mayonnaise is considered its own food group with a minimum daily allowance in said country) was that we view corn in far too limited a fashion in the U.S. Sure, we have cornmeal, muffins, cakes, etc., but we have no yet released a candy that is corn flavored. The furthest that we are willing to go is to cram cornflakes in our sweets... and, for some reason, the sushi at Safeway supermarket also has cornflakes but that's a life mystery for another time to explore. Today, we're talking about the under-utilization of corn.
When I saw this corn candy at Nijiya market for a mere $2.19 (I'm sure it sells for about half that in Japan, but, imports, go figure), I knew that I would have to buy it because this was the sort of "only in Japan" thing that people need to be aware of. Sure, they think "only in Japan" applies to men cuddling pillows shaped like women's laps and muttering "moe" under their breath in contentment or that people are eating burgers made from the ground flesh of beef that drank nothing but beer and had their torsos massaged daily by cherubic children in school uniforms.
The real "only in Japan" is far more mundane than that, at least in my opinion. It's the funk that isn't funky enough for the blogs to cover, and it includes (but is certainly not limited to) how they more fully embrace corn. Sure, we know they put it on their pizza and sell it with their pizza (so that you can put mayo on it and eat it as your "vegetable" side dish), but they also drink it in soup for breakfast and, they put it in their candy. They put it in 22-calorie morsels of taffy-like candy that are marketed as "big balls".
I opened a wrapper and gave the candy a sniff. It doesn't smell like anything. When you put it in your mouth, it is a little on the hard side and you have to warm it up and chew it to release the flavor. As it softens into a chewing gum-like taffy, it starts to melt in your mouth and release strong sweet-corn flavor which is amplified by the corn syrup (which is the first ingredient). It is also infused with richness and even more sweetness from sweetened condensed milk. In the end, it is potently sweet and has strong corn flavor. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but this is a pretty intense flavor experience both on the sweetness and corn front.
I liked this quite a lot, to be honest. I love corn flavored things and corn potage soup in particular. Lately, I've also taken to making polenta and eating it with pancake syrup and butter (as well as in savory preparations). When I make corn tea, I even sweeten it to bring out an essence which is similar to this (and corn tea is naturally sweet). Corn and sugar are in a good relationship as far as I'm concerned.
That being said, I would not say this is for everyone. For some people, corn is associated with more savory options and they think of it as something slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt - either at a movie theater or a backyard barbecue. Depending on your tastes, this could be manna from heaven or a horrendous blob of sugary awfulness. All I can say is that, this is what "candy corn" should be rather than the horrible stuff we see every Halloween. If candy corn tasted like this corn candy, (at least some) people might actually be happy to eat it.