Japanese Snacks: Tohato's Caramel Corn, a Different Kind of Caramel Corn
After the taste sensation that is Miaow Miaow Pizza Flavored Snacks captured the interns' hearts here at SE HQ, we weirdly found ourselves wanting for more Styrofoam-textured treats.
Luckily Robyn swooped in to satisfy our cravings by bringing in four flavors of Tohato's Caramel Corn, a Japanese snack made since 1971 that more resembles cheese puffs than the caramel corn anyone in America knows (and loves). We tried four of its many flavors: Choco Crunch, Almond, Peanut, and Milk.
We were most intrigued by the Choco Crunch due to its resemblance to something found in a toilet. Here a thin chocolate coating coats a semicircular puffed corn-based crisp (studded with tiny bits of cookie and peanuts, which didn't add much in texture or flavor), resulting in a not-too-sweet and completely addictive snack. Despite its unfortunate appearance, it would be easy to eat this entire package.
Sadly, this has the same tricky characteristic of movie theater packaging, in which the large box merely hides a much smaller plastic bag of the actual food. But at $2.75 per package (bought at New Kam Man in NYC), it's still not a bad deal.
Make sure to eat these before they turn stale; after sitting out for a few days these basically turn into chocolate-flavored packing peanuts.
The non-chocolate flavors make for a similar eating experience. They lack the minor textural interest of the "crunch" coating found on their turd-like peer but still manage the same inner styrofoam-like quality. You might expect these to taste like artificial cheese because their texture so closely mimics Cheetos, but sadly the flavors are less exciting.
First up, Milk didn't remind us much of its namesake liquid, rather just tasting more of empty sugar. This bears an eery resemblance to white cheddar Pirate's Booty, and you might think your tongue is playing tricks on you when your taste buds register sugary sweetness instead of powdered cheese.
Peanut isn't actually very nutty. Its aroma is more telling of its namesake than the actual flavor, which honestly doesn't taste like much at all.
Finally, Almond comes closest to the flavor of traditional caramel corn, boasting the same shiny golden brown coating of the treat with which it shares a name. We didn't discern much actual almond-ness, but no matter; this is probably the best flavor of the bunch.
All in all, this is a snack that should be purchased with caution, as it will likely get consumed in record time. (It should be noted that these produced mixed feelings among our office staff, some of love, some of hate, and some of plain old confusion.)
Have you tried any flavors of Tohato's Caramel Corn? What do you think?