Flavours made for grown-ups: Japan’s ‘adult’ drinks, candy, and snacks
It’s Coming of Age Day (January 8th), Japan’s yearly celebration of young people reaching adulthood. To mark the day, we’re gonna tell you about ‘adult’ food and drink in Japan.
Wait, we promise this is safe for work!
‘Grown-up’ flavours are a novelty thing here – it means there’s less sweetness in the taste. Our tastebuds, and sense of taste, change as we get older. And it’s not about trying to seem more adult, it’s proper science. With every decade, you’re losing tastebuds, and that affects the flavour of things. So the stuff that you loved as a kid starts to taste… well, kinda weird.
That’s why these ‘adult’ flavours are created differently, to appeal to ‘more mature’ tongues. If you feel ready, it’s worth giving these drinks, candy, and Japanese snacks a try.
‘Adult milk’ Pocky holds back on the sweetness, compared to the usual stuff. Seems milkier, but with less sugar. The box has a black and white design, not the typical bright red. From the reviews we’ve read, many people think it looks classier than normal Pocky. We’re more interested in what’s inside.
The toasted stick under the choco coating’s made with more butter, to create a ‘pie-like’ crunch. Some reviews say it tastes more like a pretzel. Combined with the chocolate, it makes for a more refined snack experience.
Along with the ‘grown-up’ milky edition, Glico’s also released special Pocky flavours that pair with whisky or red wine.
‘Adult amber’ is made for the whisky drinkers, and the wine version’s called ‘Goddess ruby’. Glico even added extracts from the alcohol-making process to the dough for the sticks. So with the whisky ones, the malt extract enhances the flavour. They come in these special packs that look like bottle covers.
Pocky comes as a snack with alcohol at many karaoke bars in Japan. So there’s already proof that it goes with drinks. (Remember, we can’t ship alcohol! The Pocky by itself is fine.)
So far, 2 ‘adult’ Fantas have debuted: peach, and pear. Both made with pure water, and without preservatives or artificial colours.
The flavour’s meant to be rich, with 10% real fruit puree in each bottle. And Fanta’s choices are deliberately premium. They picked the ‘La France’ pear, known as the ‘queen of fruits’. It’s grown in Japan (Yamagata prefecture), to save them importing it. In fact, as far as Japan’s concerned, the La France is Japanese. The flavour repped Yamagata in McDonald’s Japan’s 2017 ‘East vs. West’ campaign.
We’ve tried the peach one before. It’s not sweet.
Well, not if you’ve ever drunk a Fanta before. The heaps of sugar in regular Fanta make it kinda unfair to compare. These flavours are more like lightly fruit-flavoured sparkling water. Which isn’t a bad thing, but you’ll know the difference from the first sip.
Kinoko no Yama / Takenoko no Sato
There’s more cocoa and less sugar in the chocolate blend, but what really makes these feel grown-up is the packaging. Just like with otona Pocky, classy black replaces the usual box colour. Which, for both Kinoko no Yama and Takenoko no Sato, is normally bright green.
Some packs claim a ‘deeper flavour’ on the front. Which means ‘if you wanted sweet sweet milk chocolate, you’re in the wrong place, kids’.
Maybe the best thing about this otona version is the ad campaign. ‘Kinoko’ loves ‘Takehiko’, but she’s got to deal with his ‘infidelity’, handle his weird family, and still find time to eat some chocolate.
Each clip runs for only 6 seconds, like Vines. But they manage to pack a bunch of action, mystery, and weirdness into the series. Here’s the compilation video. You don’t need much/any Japanese to get the idea.
The tagline is ‘amasahikaeme’ (甘さ控えめ) – holding back on the sweetness. ‘Amasa’ can also mean the way some people spoil their child even when they’ve grown up, like Takehiko’s creepy mother.
Without even tasting it, we can tell you ‘plum wasabi’ isn’t gonna be sweet.
These snacks include Kishu plum from Wakayama prefecture, and raw wasabi from Azumino in Nagano prefecture. Each place is well known for each ingredient, so expectations are high. Azumino has some of the best quality water in Japan – the area’s been given the nickname ‘water and romance’.
Happy Turn’s crunchy corn snacks range from novelty to premium. The limited edition plum wasabi‘s somewhere in the middle. It’s not the only ‘adult’ flavour – they’ve done ‘honey mustard’, ‘tomato basil’, and ‘chocolate’ (are you starting to see a pattern yet?). The snacks are shaped to hold as much flavour powder as possible.
While enjoying the taste, you may wonder where the ‘Happy Turn’ name came from. After a Japanese oil crisis in the 1970s, this company wanted everyone to re’turn’ to being ‘happy’. That’s literally what happened.
That’s right, even lollipops are for grown-ups now.
These special edition premium pops came out in 2017. They’re an anniversary release, marking 40 years since Chupa Chups first went on sale in Japan. The design mimics the original logo, made by Salvador Dali. Yeah, the world-famous surrealist created a lolly logo.
Heavy dose of nostalgia going on here, for the older crowd. Even 90s kids will have memories of ‘older’ Chupa Chups flavours by now. Knowing that scares us a little. Anyway, 4 decades of loyal buying’s being rewarded with these new editions.
More than 100 flavours have been sold, across over 160 countries. These 2 ‘adult’ ones are totally new. The tastes are mature, for sure, but created in a child-friendly way. We don’t think the ‘sangria’ one (red/pink) has any proper alcohol in it. And does the ‘dark espresso’ (brown) use real coffee, or have caffeine? We’re gonna say… nope.
Both flavours are exclusive to Japan, so ask us where you can buy these.
The bite-sized cookies you turn to when you’re hungry for bite-sized cookies. Country Ma’am is a staple on conbini shelves, and a regular claw machine prize in game centres. The 2 main flavours are vanilla choc chip and double chocolate.
We’ve won a whole box of our own before. The box was stuck, half dropped, inside a claw machine. Some poor guy in front of us ran out of 100-yen coins, and gave up on it. We swooped straight in to finish the job as he walked away. Only took us an extra 200 yen to get it out of the machine. Those cookies tasted like victory (and chocolate chips).
‘Otona’ Country Ma’am takes the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to flavours. Choose grown-up choco chip vanilla, or the cocoa cookie flavour. They’re a little different, but not by all that much. And why change a good thing?
Premium ingredients are the key. The cocoa in the vanilla cookies is from Ecuador, and the double choco ones use Dutch cocoa. This gives them a rich scent, along with the taste. Both packs say ‘deliciousness UP’ on the front, in case you weren’t 100% sure.
Give these a try, if you think you’re old enough
In the mood for something new and interesting? We can help you order weird Japanese snacks and candy online.