Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Nico Nico Niccori Jelly
These Japanese "jelly" candies are really just gelatin in disguise. This is something which I sort of forgot when I bought this bag of "jellies", but was quickly reminded of when I sampled them. These are essentially prepared, all weather (as in they require no refrigeration), individually wrapped tubs of gelatin made from kelp instead of animal parts. I must say, looking at it that way either makes these much more attractive (hurray! no animal died in the making of these gelatin treats) or less attractive (yuck! eating seaweed derivatives).
I don't know many people who make their own gelatin desserts in Japan. There are boxes of gelatin as well as plain gelatin available in shops, but the variety and quantity is very limited. Most people buy these individually packaged versions. I guess that the joy of slowly moldering Jell-O in the fridge and it's fake fruity jiggliness hasn't caught on here.
You can get about one-cup-size tubs or ones with tiny amounts of gelatin like the ones I sampled. If I had to guess at the volume in one of the containers in the package I bought, I'd say it's about a tablespoon. The bag I bought lured me in because it was incredibly cheap. It contains 27 itty bitty tubs of gelatin for only about a dollar (98 yen). There are five flavors, grape, orange, melon, strawberry, and pineapple.
The first ingredient in these is grape sugar and puree, fruit sugar and puree from the various fruits represented by the flavors, and kale. The fact that there are a lot of sugars in them is a clue of what is to come. These are very, very sweet. In fact, they're far sweeter than any Jell-O I've ever made from a mix or gelatin I've had back home.
When I opened the bag, it smelled like lollipops. Even though the tubs look airtight, they clearly are not or the bag itself wouldn't smell so fruity. Eating these requires you to tear back the top and then push the bottom to "pop" the gelatin out. The size, shape, and mechanics make it clear that you're meant to pop them directly into your mouth. No utensils, no mess, no fuss, but a lot of trash for a tiny bit of gelatin.
I was going to review each flavor individually, but the truth is that I can sum up the flavor of each of them in the same manner: super sweet and intense. The fruit flavors are real, but concentrated. It's a lot like eating a spoonful of cheap, off-brand jelly (yeah, the type you spread on toast) on the flavor front and slightly soft gelatin on the texture front.
It wouldn't be bad to toss these in the refrigerator (Nanao Seika recommends you eat them cold) and have one on a hot day as a quick, sweet pick-me-up, but I really am not a fan of the super sweetness or the concentration of the flavor. Frankly, I think these might be marketed more towards children rather than adults. More expensive and larger size versions of these types of gelatin desserts tend to have bits of fruit in them, which adults might favor. I gave away the rest of the bag and I don't plan on buying them again.