Japanese people have this image of being lovers of new items that are only available in certain seasons or for a limited period of time. However, the truth is that there are so many sweets and candies in Japan that people have actually loved for so long. Here are seven of the famous and long-selling Japanese sweets that you can easily buy anywhere in the country.
1. Sakuma Drops by Sakuma Seika (1908)
Sakuma Drops are transparent hard candies that come in fruit, peppermint and chocolate flavors. If you are thinking about canned drops, then this has got to be it! First released more than 100 years ago, it continues to be loved by many people today while the design of its can changes in each era. Have you heard of the animated film “Hotaru no Haka” (Grave of the Fireflies) by Studio Ghibli? The can that the little girl Setsuko cherished in that film was a can of Sakuma Drops. This can of hard candy drops is highly recommended for the memory it leaves behind after you have eaten the drops inside.
2. Milk Caramel by Morinaga (1913)
Morinaga’s Milk Caramel candies are caramels inside a yellow box with a retro design. Made by slowly boiling down starch syrup, condensed milk, sugar and other ingredients, this candy offers the right amount of sweetness. Aside from milk, this caramel also comes in such flavors as the very Japanese matcha and azuki (red beans), as well as pineapple for a limited time. It is packed with carbohydrates that are a good source of energy, so this candy is quite popular not only with kids, but also with adults, as a nutritional supplement for walking and mountain climbing. As the labels “Jiyo Hofu” (rich in nutrients) and “Fumi Zekka” (superb taste) on the packaging suggest, Morinaga’s Milk Caramel is truly an excellent candy.
3. Milk Chocolate by Meiji (1926)
Meiji’s Milk Chocolate is a simple bar of chocolate with a rich aroma of cacao and milk. Called a “pure chocolate,” it is a chocolate that is known to have cleared all established standards. It is also famous as an ingredient for making cakes and other pastries. There may be many chocolates sold in the market, but Meiji’s Milk Chocolate stands out for the mild delicious taste that spreads inside your mouth.
4. Bisco by Ezaki Glico (1933)
Bisco is a biscuit sandwich with a faint lemon-flavored cream filling in the middle. Five pieces of Bisco biscuits contains as much as 100 million lactobacilli, and each biscuit is filled with calcium and Vitamins B1, B2 and D. The packaging bears the label “Oishikute Tsuyokunaru” (it’s delicious and will make you stronger), so it is the perfect snack for small children. It has a simple taste that is not too sweet, making it a delight even for adults.
5. Milky by Fujiya (1951)
Milky is a candy with an overflowing aroma of rich milk that is made without using any flavoring agent and food color. Condensed milk, sugar and starch syrup are boiled down to give the candy a soft texture. It is a candy despite its softness, so it would be better licked than chewed. Pay attention to the wrapping paper when you eat this candy. They say you’ll be lucky if you manage to open 10 candies without tearing the face of its mascot Peko Chan on the wrappers. Some wrappers have the word "happy" instead of the name "Milky," so the wrappers of the candies turn into an o-mikuji (fortune-telling slip), so you can also enjoy the playful wrappers of this candy.
6. Potato Chips Nori-Shio by Koike-ya (1962)
Koike-ya’s Potato Chips Nori-Shio is a bag of potato chips with just the right amount of saltiness and the good flavors of nori (edible seaweed) inside. During the time this potato chip was born, the mainstream had been salt-flavored chips. It seems that Koike-ya came up with the nori-shio flavor after a series of trials and errors in its search for a familiar taste that suited the taste buds of the Japanese. You can use these potato chips in many different ways, including as an accent to your sandwich or by putting cheese on top and popping them in the microwave oven. Koike-ya’s Potato Chips Nori-Shio are also great as a snack and when paired with alcohol.
7. Kappa Ebisen by Calbee (1964)
As said in its catchphrase “Yamerarenai, Tomaranai!” (I can’t stop, I can’t put it down!), Kappa Ebisen really is a snack that is so delicious that you will find it difficult to stop eating it. Rich in calcium from the use of whole natural shrimps, this snack’s crunchy texture is apparently born from its being parched, and not deep-fried. There are various regional classics under the Kappa Ebisen banner such as Kappa Ebisen Kyushu Shoyu (soy sauce) and Kappa Ebisen Setouchi Lemon Aji, so it will also make a great souvenir.
There is no doubt that whoever gets any of these much-loved classic Japanese sweets and snacks will be glad they did! So, make sure to try and taste them!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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