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Cool Candy From Japan

Updated on July 18, 2019
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Authoritative and detailed guides to the things you're curious about.

Unusual, Cool, and Funny Candy from Japan

Japanese pop culture has given the world an entire rainbow of brilliant forms and features, and candy is just one example. To a westerner who grew up with the usual candy bars and chewing gum, Japanese candy can be wonderfully strange. The high-concept sweets on the shelves in Japanese stores is sometimes mysterious, sometimes odd, but always cool and even thought-provoking.

The excursion into Japanese candy in all its glory comes from the perspective of someone relatively new to the culture. It's a tribute to the inventiveness and artistry in even the most humble bits of the Japanese cultural universe.

Candy Donuts: Someone Finally Got It Right

Popin' Cookin' Is Simply the Coolest Thing Ever

Popin' Cookin' is a line of sweets that take the whole idea of candy to a strange and wonderful place. Nearly all of their "kits" involve some degree of DIY candy manufacturing, which brings you right into the whole process of making your sweet by hand. But this isn't some high-falutin' artisanal hand-crafted art project. Popin' Cookin' is a whirlwind of flimsy plastic molds, goopy mixes, and hysterical packaging that actually makes junk food look wholesome.

It's also the greatest high-concept candy on the planet.

How to Make Your Popin' Cookin' Burger Meal

Popin' Cookin' is a whirlwind of flimsy plastic molds, goopy mixes, and hysterical packaging that actually makes junk food look wholesome. It's also the greatest high-concept candy on the planet.

Whatever This Is, It's Awesome

Every Burger : Nom Nom Nom

Every Burger Cookies

Ahh, the legendary Every Burger. Just the name tells you you're not in Kansas anymore, especially when you realize we're talking about a bourbon chocolate cookie shaped like a fast-food hamburger. Popular and easy to find in Japan, these little guys are available only online and in import/specialty stores here in the States. This is a taste treat that you really need to try, at least once.

It's not just the endearingly almost-there syntax of the name of these delicacies that we love. It's also the fact that Every Burger cookies use a fast-food burger as their basic design -- not a cute bear, not a windmill, not a star or even a flower -- it's a Big Mac. Just when you get used to cookies trying to mask their essential junk-food-ness by being shaped like something nice and wholesome, along comes Every Burger and says, "Hey, I'm junk food pretending to be junk food. Eat me!"

A Sweet Mystery!

The shout-me-loud packaging is typical of Popin'Cookin', but the science-project process of making actual candy sushi from powders and polymers is jaw-dropping.

You Pretty Much Have to See This

Candy from Japan: Sushi-Style Candy Kit

Popin' Cookin' makes a lot of cool products, but for my money this one is the coolest. As if sushi candy, complete with seaweed, wasn't already a cool enough idea, they made it into a do-it-yourself kit so you can create your own candy sushi at home. The shout-me-loud packaging is typical of Popin'Cookin', but the science-project process of making actual candy sushi from powders and polymers is jaw-dropping.

What does it taste like? Does it matter? When the packaging and the process are this brilliant, and demand so much of your brain, the actual flavor fades into insignificance.

Are you going to try any of these amazing sweets?

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Candy from Japan: Japanese Kit Kat Candy Bars, Roast Green Tea Flavor: There's a Kit Kat for that!

Yes, in Japan, there are Kit Kats. Not only that, there are Kit Kat flavors that westerners like me have never encountered. I love a nice crispy chocolately Kit Kat as much as the next guy, but in Japan I can get my Kit Kats, for example, in tasty roasted green tea chocolate flavor. This is another Japanese candy that you really won't find in most supermarkets.

Candy from Japan: Mangosteen Gummy Candy

The purple mangosteen, scientific name Garcinia mangostana, is a tropical fruit that people in my neck of the woods seldom encounter. It has a tough, red-purple rind that you peel off to reveal whitish, kind of chewy fruit that is both sweet and sour, a little like a sweet grapefruit. In some places it's known as "the Queen of Fruits." In addition to Japan, the mangosteen is popular in many countries across Asia and Latin America.

These tasty gummis capture the appeal of the mangosteen pretty well, though they are a good deal sweeter than the actual fruit (they are, after all, candy). These gummis are a cool way to try an exotic flavor without going TOO far out on a limb and eating something you aren't ready for.

One for the Road: Popin' Cookin' Pizza

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