By Kate Gavino
A rainbow of artificial flavoring.
A rainbow of artificial flavoring.

The guinea pigs. 

The candy aisle of any Asian supermarket is sure to be a Technicolor behemoth that attracts both young and old. Sure, you have your old favorites like Pocky, Yan Yan, and Hi-Chew, but there’s still plenty of territory left unexplored by the average American shopper. Asian candy is a strange and magical thing. Odd flavors like ginger, seaweed, and wasabi are not shied away from, and unless you’re a fluent speaker, the packaging usually gives nothing away.

We decided to try out some of the lesser known candies using a blind taste test. We chose two guinea pigs: Subject 1, a fan of Hi-Chew and lychee but a newcomer to obscure Asian snacks, and Subject 2, a self-proclaimed Asian candy fanatic who loves the smell of Tiger Balm. Once they were blindfolded, they were given a candy and asked to describe its taste. How did they fare? Find out below.

Subject 1: “Almonds? Or milk?”
Subject 2: “Milk, definitely milk.”

Answer: “8.2 High Concentrated Milk Hard Candy.” The tag line for this treat is: “At last! A candy that’s both healthy and tasty!” That sentiment may be debatable, as it still contains a fair amount of sugar and carbs per serving. Popping a couple of these babies a day probably won’t build up bone density.

Subject 1: “Oranges?”
Subject 2: “Fuzzy peach?”

Answer: “Kasugai Flower’s Kiss Candy.” These are apricot flavored and supposedly both sweet and sour, but they did not seem like either. In fact, they were quite bland. Do these candies actually taste like a flower’s kiss? Well, you would have to ask an expert

Subject 1: “Ugh. Chalk.”
Subject 2: “Alka Seltzer?”

Answer: “Fresh Ramune Candy.” This fizzy soda-inspired candy does seem like something you’d dissolve into water, but the powdery tablet is indeed meant to be chewed. You’re supposed to enjoy the feeling of it melting in your mouth, but it’s tough, between all the powdery coughing.

Subject 1: "Chocolate raspberries."
Subject 2: "Chocolate strawberries."

Answer: “Meiji Strawberry Chocolate Meltyblend.” This candy is full of artificial flavors (as expected), but the faux-strawberry covered in cocoa powder is surprisingly delightful and possibly wins the title of Best in Show so far. Although, the competition isn’t very high.

Subject 1: "Milk again?"
Subject 2: "Chocolate milk."

Answer: “Milkita Chocolate Milk Candy.” Another candy that’s supposed to be healthy, as the manufacturer boasts its 4% calcium content. But don’t worry, Mom, there’s also drops of “hydrogenated coconut oil” and “distilled monoglyceride and lecithin.” 

Subject 1: "Pineapple. This is so pineapple."
Subject 2: "Yes, pineapple."

Answer: “Hello Kitty Tropical Mango Marshmallow.” If you’ve always thought normal marshmallows lacked a certain something, this is for you. One bite is sweet enough to make the most seasoned candy fiend cringe, but then again, Hello Kitty is on the package. Would you expect anything else?

Subject 1: "Honey? Lemon?"
Subject 2: "Gah! Spicy! Is this ginger? Get this out of my mouth!"

Answer: “Gold Kili Ginger Candy.” This Singaporean candy is for the dessert connoisseur who looks down on anything sweet. The flavor attacks you right away, so know what you’re getting into beforehand. Consider yourself warned.

Subject 1: "Prunes? You fed me prunes?"
Subject 2: "[indistinct gurgling] This tastes like my grandmother!"

Answer: “Dried Tangerine Snack.” Not quite sure what this is doing in the candy aisle, as this is apparently poison. The ingredient list includes licorice, so it has that going for it, but other than that, only use this on your enemies.