Japanese Snacks: Milk Candies

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

Like monster movies, martial arts, and cartoon pornography, the Japanese are the only ones in the world who have managed to refine and re-imagine snack foods in a way that can only be described as art. Whether they're wacky, cute, insane, or just plain delicious, we've got a major thing for Japanese snacks at SEHQ.

A few weeks back, I took a trip out to Mitsuwa in Edgewater—the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States—where I went on a minor shopping spree and bought every single candy they have on sale.

Growing up, Milky, the soft, chewy, milk-flavored candy featuring a lip-smacking girl* was probably my favorite candy (apologies if I've already said that about a different candy). It's got the chew and slow melt of good caramel, but with a clean, fresh milk flavor. You don't see many (or any?) straight-up milk-flavored candies in the U.S., but the Japanese seem obsessed with them.

* That is, she's smacking her lips, not worthy of smacking my lips over

Milky is the original and still the best, but if you're into hard candies, they do make a Milky Cough Drop that has the basic flavors of a milky in hard form along with a slight menthol aftertaste.

Newer to the market is the Hello Kitty Milk candy, which is far softer, a little bit sweeter, and way cuter. Only the Japanese would think of sticking a blank-eyed cat in a cow costume to market a chewy candy. Weird.

For more adult tastes, Honey Milk and Milk Tea candies are available. The former has a strong cough drop flavor with a medicinal overtone that I don't find all that appealing. The tea candies, on the other hand, are awesome. Earl Grey flavored hard candy and milk flavored soft candy both come in the same package.

Anyone have an explanation for the Japanese milk flavor fascination? Are there other countries out there where milk is a common flavor?