Do you remember the first time you saw one of those 'how on Earth is this related to the product' TV commercials from Japan? Some of us have seen too many to remember. The snack maker Bourbon has taken some of this 'huh?' factor and stuffed it into their latest confection, with notable results.
Let's get right down to it: this deceptive little snack will have you scratching your head searching for the words to describe it. First off, I have basically no idea how the name relates to the content of the package. Koron is an onomatopoeia (words that depict sounds like 'splash' or 'bang') meaning "rolling"; it generally gives the impression of roundness. These little treats, however, are oval like a tiny banana, so the term is only halfway appropriate at best, and it's hard to describe something which only contains one variety in the bag as "colorful." So the mystery begins.
Luckily the confusion doesn't stop there, because this snack has combined two ingredients which, traditionally, represent two separate genres: chocolate, for sweet desserts, and kaki no tane, for salty snacks. Kaki no tane is a long standing snack which is like a tiny rice puff given a mild soy sauce coating and often packaged together with peanuts. Koronto Colorful coats these kaki no tane with several flavors of chocolate, the result of which could be called the Japanese approach to chocolate covered pretzels.
There are four flavors of Koronto Colorful available, each with their own merits. The series started out with cacao (bitter chocolate) and kinako (soy bean powder), later adding Japanese plum (called ume) and matcha green tea.
Upon trying the standard cacao variety, my taste buds were overtaken, not by the initial chocolate, but from the buttery after taste of the crispy center.
To the unsuspecting palate, the combination is like a dissonant chord in a piano piece; it's an acquired taste. And after a couple bites, I discovered that, indeed, this unlikely pairing is quite addictive. Not only do the flavors compliment each other, but the timing in which they hit your tastes buds is a big part of the appeal: bitter sweet, then sweet, then buttery and salty. I ended up wishing there were twice as many pieces in the bag.
The other three varieties all deliver more traditional Japanese flavors, an interesting decision considering the name of the product contains an English word. Kinako and matcha taste exactly how you would expect them to, the sweetness is subdued, making for a more adult-oriented dessert.
Japanese plum, on the other hand, deserves special mention in that it mercilessly hits you with the ume flavor, a tangy sensation that will make you forget you're eating chocolate. Anyone who has ever tried umeboshi, the infamous Japanese salted plums that can make your face pucker like a withered flower, will know to brace themselve
Overall, Koronto Colorful is a quick snack that should be praised for its creativity if nothing else. The cacao flavor is definitely the leader of the pack, so pick up a bag if you've got a few minutes before your train arrives and enjoy the well-constructed sensation while it lasts.