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Japanese Candy Review: Neri Ame

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Neri Ame

I’m a sucker for traditional Japanese food and art. But when it comes to traditional Japanese entertainments, my reaction is often “I guess this is what happens when people don’t have TV.”

Neri-Ame is clearly a combination of food and amusement. And who doesn’t like to play with their food? So despite my skepticism about what the traditional Japanese apparently found entertaining (Kabuki theater, I am looking at you) I had to know what this was about.

Neri-Ame is a little vial of colored stuff packed with a small pair of wooden chopsticks, and according to our friends at J-list, the deal is that you pour the syrup on the chopsticks and “knead in order to create a fluffy-like texture before you consume.” Your first question is no doubt, how do you get a syrup to stay on a chopstick? This turns out to be not too hard, as this stuff is about as thick as it can get and still be sort of a liquid.

Then there’s the kneading part. I’ve never kneaded anything on the end of a pair of chopsticks. There are picture instructions on the back of the package which are not too helpful, and I can’t read enough of the Japanese, but how much can there be to it? It would obviously defeat the whole purpose of the thing to take out my big electronic dough-mixing appliance. So, no biggie. I smushed and stretched the stuff around for a while.

Eventually, it starts to change color, becoming opaque and a bit thicker and stretchier. I don’t know about fluffy. If you have ever watched taffy being made at the beach I think it’s a bit like that. You can see the contrast in the photo between the thick, opaque lump at the end of the chopsticks and the clear syrup in the vial (and leaking out onto the table, which, by the way, you should try to avoid).

Then there is the part where you get tired of kneading and taste the stuff. Oof. It turns out that the yellow version is banana flavor, and there are few things in the world of candy that I like less than artificial banana flavor. I will say in its favor, though, that despite what you’d probably expect, it’s not overly sweet. This is one of the nice things about Japanese candy – even stuff that looks like a lump of pure sugar is usually way less sweet than is typical of American products.

The pink color was much better. I’m not positive what flavor it was supposed to be, something bubblegummy or fake-strawberry that was perfectly fine and again, not too sweet. It’s such a pleasure to eat something like this that’s just sweet instead of being painfully, overwhelmingly, teeth-achingly sweet.

This was kind of fun, in a simple-minded way. And definitely not as boring as Kabuki theater or those awful songs that geisha sing. Will it tempt your kids away from their electronic devices? Hey, for a few minutes, at a party – or in a power failure – it’s worth a try. And if you decide you’re crazy about the taste the secret is, as far as I can tell, kneading doesn’t change the flavor at all. Just clip the bottle open and pour it in your mouth – and go watch TV.

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2 Responses to “Japanese Candy Review: Neri Ame”

  1. 1
    Meghan says:

    I had the yellow one, and it was AWFUL!!! It would not fluff no matter what I did. J-list sold one alot like it a couple of years ago that was wonderful. It came in lemon, strawberry, and melon flavors, three to a pack. These were horrid, a complete waste of money.

  2. 2
    Serenity says:

    Is it really that awful? I wanted to try some actually. I’m not so sure anymore. But it must be entertainig right? I’ve had some pretty terrible candy. I thought it couldn’t be worse than some candy I’ve tried. But I now that I’ve read this I dont think I’ll be getting some anytime soon.

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