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.

back row: orange, melon, pineapple front row: grape, strawberry

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.

An unmolded orange jelly, with a small deformation from pushing it out of its tub.

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.


Helen said...

Just wondering if you had heard about the ban on these in other countries...NOT these specific ones, but other mini-cup jellies.

Quite a few countries consider these to be a choking hazard. Just thought I'd mention it as they might not be available everywhere.

Here's one of the URL's that I found, and there are many more...

Melanie said...

Do you normally enjoy those little gelatin snacks?
There is a brand I can vouch for, except for one problem: I don't know the name! Ack!
Your post reminded me of the ones I like, though... So I will probably pick up a bag of them soon. Would you like me to drop the name in here, when I do? They're not a variety type; they come in peach, grape, strawberry, apple, lemon, orange, and acerola... I think that is all the flavors. You only get one flavor per bag. They are quite chewy and just very, very GOOD. I could easily eat the whole bag in one go! The grape kind tastes just like concord grapes! Unfortunately my husband can't abide the smell, so we usually stick with the peach ones, since it's a flavor we both enjoy.

Orchid64 said...

Helen: It's interesting that gelatin could be a choking hazard. I guess anything can be if you gobble it down too fast, but this stuff is pretty soft. Mind you, I have seen Japanese people inhale food on more than one occasion!

Melanie: I have had some nice gelatin snacks like this before, but most as souvenirs brought to my company by coworkers. They were always a lot less sweet than this and contained fruit. I wouldn't call having them a priority considering I can make sugar-free Jell-O for myself which costs nothing in calories.

Thanks for your comments!

mina. said...

I love those gelatin snacks, I grew up eating them. But my absolute favorite are Litchee flavored jellies with nata de coco in the middle.

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Mina, and thanks for your comment and for reading!

I've had some nice ones, but these were really just too sweet for me. I think you find nata de coco in a lot of drinks and yogurt in Japan these days. I like it, but haven't felt motivated to eat it as of late.

Sherry said...

The ones that are a choking hazard are the ones made from konnyaku because they do not melt when they are warm so they stay stuck in your throat. Gelatin, as we know it, will usually soften and slide down if it gets stuck. It was such a problem several years ago that they had to make them smaller or totally change the shape - like one brand went from round throat sized ones to larger heart shaped ones.

Multibeavo said...

Anyone know where I could buy these in the states or order them or some like them? We just moved back from Okinawa and my daughter loves them! I would love to get her some! :)

Orchid64 said...

I think kids would adore these! Unfortunately, I don't know where they can be purchased back home.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Cody said...

I have had these before and I can say they are great! I have to find a site where they sell them. It's weird because I hate actual Jell-o, but These are different...they are firmer which I love

Cody said...

I have had these before and I can say they are great! I have to find a site where they sell them. It's weird because I hate actual Jell-o, but These are different...they are firmer which I love