Japanese Snack Food Review: Nama Ume Ame

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I went out to procure some more festive snack food in honor of Valentines Day (re: something red…ish) and I found not one but TWO snack foods in the vaguely red hue so I thought I’d post both. Happy Valentine’s Day and welcome the first hard candy for review. I was pretty excited to step into a new area for the JSFR and the packaging was intriguing. They even look pretty all wrapped up with their translucent shell and purple red center. Visually, they would rate a solid 5 wasabi peas.

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I actually was really torn trying to decide how to rate these candies. Initially they are a smooth hard candy with an interesting taste; not overly sweetie sweet like a butterscotch or root beer barrel but more toned down. Not as bitey on the tongue either, the hard candy was smooth with few if any air bubbles. The flavoring on the package claims “plum color and flavoring” but I couldn’t really nail the flavor as “plum” per se. I will say that it was fruity and very tart and if I thought hard enough I might agree that it was plum. I think. TheMan describes the flavor as “Tart, almost grapefruit; like an unholy union of strawberry and grapefruit” while DQ describes it as like “a green or unripe plum”.

I was not so fond of the plum taste but they weren’t bad. Personally I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat them again but DQ didn’t mind the taste and the web assistant really enjoyed them (giving them a vegan thumbs up!). If you are into tart unripe plum hard candy then these might be for you.

Be warned, however, the center is a taffy like nodule of strong PLUM and TART and is also incredibly salty. Weirdly salty. Disturbingly tart, plum and salty. The center is “vile” (DQ) and as TheMan said, he wished for another candy if only to counteract the center’s taste with the initial sweet of the hard candy shell. Only the Web assistant didn’t seem to mind the center at all (she claimed that her three candies she tried were neither salty nor tart) but she is one of those people who chews hard candy. In the interest of the Snack Food Review, I tried eating the Nama Ume Ame by crunching it as soon as I was able (it needed a bit to dissolve before I could crunch it).

The second candy I ate I did wind up with a bit of the hard candy shell to crunch into the taffy center and it wasn’t that bad. Well, it wasn’t until all the sugar of the hard candy dissolved and left me with the nasty salty tart plum evilness. I thought the web assistant might be onto something so I tried a third candy her way. For the record, crunching through the hard candy shell in order to bypass the inherent nastiness of the center is a bad idea on several levels. The first being that biting through the Nama Ume Ame only produces shards of sharp pointy hard candy that stick in and around your mouth. Second, by crunching through the candy to the soft, gooey center I only managed to bury the plum taffy like bit into my back teeth where the goo stayed longer than the sugar sweet of the shards of outer shell. Not a pleasant experience.

So while this was an interesting foray into the hard candy offerings of Japan, 4 of 5 people didn’t really like taking the journey. The outer shell isn’t that bad, really, but the center paste… Ehhhhhhh, no. Because of the soul draining center and the fact that most of my test subjects didn’t overly like the candy, I am going to have to give Nama Ume Ame a

Rating

of 2 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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