We may be sour, but we know our sweets.

Shanghai Surprise

Author

My brother, occasional guest reviewer Matty Guru Jr. (don’t ask, it’s complicated) recently traveled to Shanghai because he has a cool job that lets him travel to places like Shanghai. He also gets to hold meetings about “baseball” and “football” and gets to wear World Series rings and travel to places like Augusta & March Madness finals.  Can we all agree that he’s a dick?

 

However, he did “come through” for us while in China recently, as he hauled back pounds of goodies to review.  I put that in quotes though, because the question still remains: can China produce decent candy?  We had the “Asian Cornucopia” video a few years back that the kids seemed to like, and since then, several Asian candy reviews.  So far, we’ve seen a few goodies, but mostly stinkers.  Let’s dive right in.

First, the most recognizable Chinese candy around these parts: “White Rabbit”

Inside, we find individually wrapped (and then wrapped in edible rice paper) milk based chews.  Savory, sweet, chewy….really nice.

Most folks I know who’ve tried these like them.  The Asians love their milk based treats, as we’re about to see more of.  For my money though, these are the best.

Next up let’s check out what can only be described as fruit gelees.

Pretty, organized, efficient.  Chinese.  I was excited about these, what with my recent obsession with Katjes Fruit Gelees and all…

NOTHING like Katjes.  Whereas Katjes is soft, intensely flavorful, juicy, this is…like a really hard cube of Jello with half the normal Jello flavoring.  Just bland, bland, bland.  Not for me.

 

But what kind of Asian candy review would this be without the fruit you love to hate, the smelly, vile, Durian fruit??

Say hello to Michael.  This kooky kid loves Durian fruit, and he happened to be standing there when I opened the bag.  Despite the fact that the bag reeked to high holy hell (I mean…REAL Durian flavor, intense sweaty, salty bile filled disgustingness pouring out of the bag) he squealed with delight when I offered to give him the bag just to get it out of my general proximity.

 

And before you start thinking to yourself “but Durian TASTES so good, it’s worth it!”, consider this: Know what also tastes good?  Strawberries.  And cherries.  And lemons.  And guess what?  They all smell good too.  There’s just no good reason to eat Durian fruit.  The payoff is nowhere near worth the smell-agony®, not to mention that they’re not an easy fruit to butcher.  Nah.  Let Michael have them.  Poor, sweet misguided kid.

 

Next up?  Sesame candy.

 Definitely the coolest looking of the candies.  Almost like ancient currency, only sesame flavored!

 

Inside, this is what you get: a soft, crumbly sesame bar.  Tightly packed yet loose and extremely delicate, I could see a lot of people really enjoying this.  I mean, I DIDN’T see anyone enjoy it , I’m just saying I could envision that sort of thing.  As is though, a bit too weird for most, and for me, it isn’t the uniqueness that bothered me: it’s the taste.  I just don’t dig on this amount of sesame, and honestly, the consistency isn’t my jam either.

Speaking of jam- anyone up for some corn on the cob?

 

What you’re looking at above are two different kinds of corn on the cob gummies: one shaped like an ear of corn, the other like a cross section.  I popped one of these in my mouth, and gagged.  I was with a co-worker who didn’t understand why I freaked out.  She asked why.  I yelped out “coz it’s ‘sgusting!  Corn!”  to which she replied “why is corn disgusting”?  That gave me pause.  So I paused, reset, and tried again.  Magically, with a mind tweak, it wasn’t disgusting at all.  It just tasted exactly like buttery corn.  Which is….DISGUSTING for candy.  Sorry, but it is.  Blechh.  Cute though.

 

Speaking of cute, we’ve reviewed filled marshmallows here before with  limited success.  Guess what?  These are exactly as mediocre.

The packaging is cooler though.  These happen to be grape.

What can I say about these?  They taste like marshmallows with grape goo inside.  Which I guess gives me a good platform to rail against marshmallows.  Here’s my take: they have no place in society, save for Smores, and ONLY when those smores aren’t so damned gooey that you find mallow clumps on your shirt the next morning.  Not cool , not fun to eat.  Jonny Guru jr. liked these though, but then again, he likes everything.

 

On to act 3.  Despite my shitty photo, these were my co-worker’s second favorite, next to White Rabbits.

They’re more or less a peanut nougaty chew.  There’s hints of milk, which in my opinion detracts, and they’re not quite chewy enough like a Mary Jane, but…pretty good.

Speaking of milk, these were included in my basket of delights, despite being Japanese:

These are freakin’ bizarre. A milk flavored shell over an indeterminately flavored gummy.  Just…so..weird.  Milk and fruit don’t mix for me.  I don’t like yogurt gummies, I don’t like any of that crap.  I don’t cross the streams.  Gross.

We’re about done here folks.  The thing I was most excited about in the goodie bag were these:

 

What are they, you ask?  Umeboshi lollipops.  Remember my umeboshi rant?  They’re one of my favorite things, dehydrated pickled sour plums.  Yum.  Salty, sour, tart, sweet, hard to chew…just amazing.  But in a pop?  I was extremely skeptical.

You get the idea.  This was…disappointing, to say the least.  Yes, that’s umeboshi in there, but it’s trapped in a flavorless (and I mean FLAVORLESS) candy coating.  I’m not sure what the goal was for them, but it was a tease-I could taste this sour deliciousness just begging to get out, but…in a fit of frustration I had to destroy the thing, savagely.  I got places to go, people.

 

And that’s that.  My honest take is that, while being very inventive, the Chinese really don’t have it together so much with creating interesting, tasty candy.  They seem to be stuck on a few themes, and none of them all that great.  However, I’m always open to trying new things, so I gotta thank my bro.  But Matty…can’t your awesome job send you to Germany next time?

  • http://reignoferror.blogspot.com greebs

    Hey, glad they were all disgusting, that was sort of my mandate (OK, not really but suffice it to say it didn’t reduce the chance of acquisition).

    And yes, I may be going to the UK and Germany in the fall, so I’ll prep with you long before then …

  • Matty

    5 stars to you for reviewing all this crap.
    Besides the giggles you provided, there’s nothing above I need in my life.
    Funnily, I thought the white rabbits (which I do like) were Japanese. Which might prove I’m a racist, but really just proves I can’t speak any Asian languages.

  • Jeremy

    Hello there!

    Hahaha great ratings.

    I used to lvoe white Rabbit candies until… the milk scandals.

    Anyhow, (i can understand mandarin)

    The candy you’ve tried that you called “sesame candy” is really a Green Bean one.

    They are of different flavours – let me translate:

    Black – Sesame
    Green – Green Bean ( Mung Bean)
    Orange – Peanut

    These are a Chinese equivalent of Halwa (middle eastern sesame candy)

    Hope this helps.

    Jeremy

  • Jonny

    Jeremy, you ROCK! Thanks so much for clearing it up. You’re hired!

  • http://milkandspoon.wordpress.com Jeremy

    I’m hired? haha perhaps you could help me out by linking my cereal review blog here – i’ve just started it with a friend =)

  • Jonny

    Jeremy, shoot me an email at Jonny@candygurus.com

    Jon