May 24, 2010

Hello Kitty - A Food Review

I suppose that in America we have special items that come into the marketplace for a limited time.  There was Crystal Pepsi and all the different colors of Mountain Dew.  I can't remember really paying very close attention - lest my enthusiasm be mocked for my following the latest fad.  My assumption with those releases was always that they were products heading to test markets, to see whether there was profit in coast-to-coast marketing.  However, now that I think about it specialty - short run products do happen in the US.  Just not quite like Japan.

Noticing, purchasing and tasting special seasonal and regional flavors is a national pastime, one that I very much enjoy.  It is faddish and geeky and everyone does it with reckless abandon.  {Something else I love about Japan - not being judged and not judging things about people that don't really matter.}  Phil thinks I get a bit silly about it, but is a good sport and usually willing to split my samples with me.  Though I don't think he really understands my over jubilant reactions when I spot new treats.  He just laughs when my eyes get big and I say "Oh, Phil!  LOOK!"  Even LilSis thought I was a bit wacky about flavors when she was here.  I suppose I must be turning a wee bit Japanese, because I LOVE IT!

This latest taste test adventure started last Tuesday morning.  Phil and I drove across to Suwa and stopped into the Lawson's convenience store near my school.  Phil was looking for breakfast.  I was not needing anything - but what should my eye spy? 

And then, this:

Phil bought the bread for his breakfast and didn't notice the tea - or so I thought.  On our way home from work he swung into the parking lot and popped inside.  He came out with a bag and handed me my presents.  It was the perfect gift for me - Hello Kitty special tastes.  The perfect storm in silly Japanese things I love.

And so.  I tasted them.  On Thursday.  For lunch.

Overall the tea was quite tasty.  There was no plastic after taste as there sometimes is with bottled milk tea.  It was spiced slightly so it was more like chai than typical milk tea.  {Did you know Kitty-chan is french?  She drinks tea au lait...}  The portion was just right for me as well.  Usually the cartons are a bit bigger and I have a hard time drinking that much of something so sweet.

The apple bread was hysterical.  From the fire engine red dye job to the perfect solo leaf and bread stem.  I just sat and looked a bit.  I really could not get enough of the packaging, Kitty-chan, bizarre English exclamations, all well within the norm and yet so entertaining.  Do you see that?  As heavy as three apples!  Despite its claim and heft - the bread had a mere two apple slices inside - about a quarter of an apple.

It tasted a bit like a cross between a cold McDonald's apple pie and a cinnamon roll.  If you're from New Orleans - it reminded me very strongly of the king cakes of my youth {with an apple filling}.

Both the drink and the bread were fortified with protein and calcium.  I was able to supplement with a salad for nutrition and call it lunch for 436 calories {drink - 97, bread 339}.  Like most "special flavors," the pleasure was in the novelty of it all - not the actual taste.  It is a giant piece of red bread shaped and dyed like an apple - I would be worried if I thought it was the greatest tasting thing ever.

The experience of seeing something new and trying it was worth it and the sugar rush was just what I needed to master the difference between the present perfect and present perfect continuous before fifth period.  I did appreciate Hello Kitty reminding me that "an apple a day..." and so when I arrived home that day I ate the real thing as my after school snack.

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