Japanese Snack Food Review: Tomato Candy

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Knowledge tells us that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom prevents us from putting it into fruit salad.

-Miles Kington

I think that quote pretty much sums up Tomato Candy awfully darned succinctly. Watermelon candy? Sure. Peach candy? Why not. Blueberry candy? Bring it. I’ll try anything once and that’s exactly how many times I tried the Tomato Candy. Man was not meant to live in the same universe as a tomato flavored hard candy.

It’s not that it’s bad per se, it’s that it is tomato. I don’t go putting watermelon on my burgers or blueberry sauce on my spaghetti and meat balls and likewise I don’t expect any candy manufacturer to hold up a Jersey Beefsteak and think “Holy cow! This is a FRUIT! Why haven’t we ever made a tomato flavored Jolly Rancher??” I’ll tell you why: Wisdom.

However, the Japanese are an experimenting type of people and they have gone and done the unexpected with the fruit most often tossed into the vegetable drawer. Enter Tomato Candy. For the record, TheMan found this particular gem at Lucky Market so I wash my hands completely of this find. In fact, he was very enthusiastically gleeful about discovering these. I think he is just trying to make a bid for infamy in trying to find the worst JSF known to the review. Unfortunately, this wont be it and that is frighteningly disturbing.

Tomato Candy. Yeah. Once you get over the fact that someone actually thought the poor tomato was being neglected in the confectionery world…well OK. I never got past that point. I think most of my Guinea Pigs weren’t able to cross that line either but they all gave Tomato Candy as fair a shake as one can while sucking on something that tastes like candied ketchup. I’m not talking the name brands like Heinz or Hunts either. Oh no. I’m talking about ketchup so generic that you’ll most likely find it packaged in one of those ketchup blisters at a place that can’t afford even the second string ketchups. Ketchup that tastes like a good deal of tomato paste was added to the mix but not enough tasty ketchup spices followed in after. Ketchup that tastes oddly tart too. That was sort of weird. I mean weirder than actually eating candied ketchup, which is pretty high on my list of weird things to have eaten.

And still, Tomato Candy’s not…horrific. Mostly. Sorta. I mean it does have an unusually powerful tomato aroma (you can smell one of these things being opened across the room) but it follows up with a nicely strong tomato taste so it is keeping its olfactory promises. Also, the tomato flavor is natural (if not fresh from the vine) tomato and not some manufactured processed tomato flavoring which is admirable. If it were any other fruit I’d give it a glowing report with all that it has going for it so far but…it’s tomato. Most of my Guinea Pigs couldn’t say anything glowing about the candy and in fact, most of my Guinea Pigs couldn’t keep the candy in their mouths for the full duration. One managed to do it but I think I may have let slip that no one up to that point had gone more than 5 minutes before disposing of the candy and I think my long haul Pig took it as a challenge. Long haul Pig will tell you that it took many, many, MANY several minutes of tongue scrubbing to get the after tomato to fade though. Oi! The tomato lingers.

Mostly, I think my Pigs were amused by the fact that they were eating tomato candy. Tomato! Candy! I can see if maybe you had never met a tomato before you might think “Hmmm. Fruity? What happens if I add sugar to a puree of this thing and made a hard candy out of it?” But when you get people saying things like, “If I could have this with mozzarella and a basil leaf, that would be good.” or “I want to salt my tongue.” then maybe you have the wrong audience for your candy. Half a pea point for amusement because Tomato! *giggle*. One pea point for everything else because…Tomato??!?

Total Rating

of 1.5 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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