Monday, August 22, 2011

Morinaga's Satsumaimo Caramel (Sweet Potato)

I am a sucker for cool packaging so this was a must-buy for me. Morinaga is a Japanese confectionery company that has been around since 1899 so they keep their keystone caramel products looking very retro. Simple and charming designs on this rectangular box which holds 12 foil wrapped caramels.

The thin cardboard box is wrapped in plastic that tears off easily. The lid at the top pops up but not off so you can easily reseal the package. 12 cubed caramels are individually wrapped in foil with Morinaga printed across the face. There is no flavor aroma as the box is opened and the pieces slide out of the box easily.  Each caramel is 4.9 grams with 21 Calories.

Satsumaimo (sweet potato) is an autumn favorite in Japan with many families eating them as a dessert or a special snack. In fact, in Hokkaido where I live, there are trucks that drive around the neighborhood on cool nights selling hot, baked satsumaimo; a repeated soliciting announcement blaring from the speaker. The first time I tried this potato variety was on an ice-fishing expedition. I thought we were in the middle of nowhere catching smelt when I heard the satsumaimo truck approaching on a nearby road. I usually never eat potatoes of any kind without some sort of garnish however these did not require anything. They were surprisingly moist and extremely sweet and hot. In fact, they worked best as a hand warmer since my fingers were frozen after a half day of fishing in sub-zero temperatures.

So having consumed a real baked satsumaimo I figured these caramels would get a fair review. When I peeled back the foil I was surprised to see a brown cube that looked like a regular milk caramel. I was expecting a purple or yellow color since the sweet potato has purple skin and yellow flesh. Again, there was little aroma from the caramel so I was kind of disappointed at this point.

I popped it in my mouth and allowed it to just sit on my tongue before chewing it. All I could taste was milk caramel. Had the manufacturer made a mistake and packed the wrong flavor? Next, the chew test. Morinaga caramels are very chewy and not too hard on the teeth. I am not recommending a heavy chew as they still can pull dental work out just like any caramel. But they are much lighter in texture than your typical western caramel. The satsumaimo flavor suddenly hit me and very strongly. It was very accurate and an enjoyable oral experience. Although not hot it did have the exact flavor of a baked sweet potato along with the milk caramel base.

These are nice to munch on because they last longer than chocolate or Hi Chew. The flavors are more intense too. Morinaga usually has 3-6 different flavors out at one time. See the selection we have at napaJapan HERE. Also we carry other brands of caramels in even stranger flavors such as BBQ lamb, corn, tomato, and green tea.

As we enter the autumn season our candy selection will expand. Already there are over 1000 products in our catalog. Come by and have a look. Please let your friends know about us too. We have links to our TWITTER and FACEBOOK pages too. You can keep up to date with all the latest candy releases from Japan by following us on those twitter and Facebook links.

Thanks and Happy Snacking!

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