Why Are Asian Candies so Good?

As you leave a grocery store in the US, you'll inevitably walk past a display of candy on your way to the register. These shelves feature rows of brightly lit goodies: Hershey's, M&Ms, Reese's Cups, all the classics. Occasionally, these shelves will also contain an Asian or Japanese candy. It may have an interesting wrapper, or a name you don't recognize, but don't be intimidated: these candies are worth a shot. In this article I'll explain what makes Asian candies distinct from their American counterparts, and why, the next time you go grocery shopping, you should put the Butterfinger down, and try something new.

More Options

The flavor offerings from American candies are pretty sparse. You can probably tally them up on your fingers: Green Apple, Blueberry, Cherry, Lemon, Raspberry, Chocolate, Vanilla, and some other old standbys.

Japanese and Asian candies, on the other hand, boast a colorful variety of flavors. They extend beyond the American short list, representing flavors like pumpkin, soy sauce, and musk melon. Kit-Kat flavors in Japan exemplify the demand for this extensive list of flavors. While the milk-chocolate Kit-Kat dominates the US market, in Japan, Kit-Kats come in over 400 varieties, from beverages, to savory flavors like baked potato. This varied palette makes Japanese candies more interesting, and it means that if you don't like one flavor, no worries, there's plenty more to try!

Strength and Complexity

In addition to the different types of flavors, Japanese and Asian candies are also unique in the potency of their palette. While an American orange candy will be unmistakably fruity, a Japanese orange candy will pack a more powerful punch.

If a strong flavor isn't what you're looking for, however, there are plenty of subtle creamy and chocolaty flavors that are more subtle in their tastes. But even these chocolaty flavors can be more intense, depending on your choice. Japanese candies also tend to be more complex in their flavors. While an American candy might feature one flavor throughout, many Asian candies, especially hard candies, have several layers of alternating flavors. This makes for a more interesting and engaging confection, something you won't get with a Jolly Rancher.

Fun Packaging

This is what makes Asian candies really distinct from their American counterparts. While many candies in the US don't feature mascots or colorful designs, the Japanese market is full of eye-catching wrappers and slogans.

There are tons of examples of this kind of advertisement. One of the most popular marketing figures in Japanese candy is a bird named Kyorochan. He graces the boxes of the Japanese candy, Chocoballs, and is extremely popular among children. These engaging wrappers are not the only unique marketing technique in Japanese candy. There are also interesting shapes and packaging which make the candy you buy a lot more fun. For example, one of Japan's most popular brands is "Kinoko No Yama", or "Mushroom Mountain". These chocolate covered biscuits are shaped like mushrooms which may not affect the taste, but, in my opinion, makes them way more fun.


I'm not here to tell you that any candy is good for your health, but it's fair to say the Asian candies are the better option if you're health-conscious. This is primarily due to their sugar content. As a rule, Asian candies tend to rely less heavily on nougat, caramel, and chocolate: the main sugary ingredients found in American options. While these may be present in some candies, there is a greater emphasis on other sweeteners, like sweet beans, or sweet potatoes, which provide a touch of sugar, but not so much that it's overwhelming.

This also helps to reduce the overall calorie count of the candies. Although Asian communities consume more confections overall when compared to American or European populations, their calorie count tends to be lower. This is thanks to the reduced emphasis on sugar in Asian candies: the market is filled with interesting and unique flavors, and it doesn't blindly rely on the power of the sweet tooth.

There are many other aspects of the Japanese and Asian candy market that make its products superior to the rest. But the ones I've listed above are a start. Hopefully next time you'll take a second look at the Asian candy section, and try a bold, unique, and flavorful confection!

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