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napaJapan, a few of my favorite things

My post about my first order from napaJapan is my most consistently “popular”. Week in and week out, it is the post that continually gets hits. Maybe people want to see what I ordered, maybe they want to know if they can trust ordering from Jason at napaJapan. Well, let me set your mind at ease if that’s the case, they are incredibly reliable and 100% on the level. I just checked my account (they conveniently save your old orders so you can remember what you’ve ordered!), and I’ve placed over 40 orders from there over the past couple of years. I was going to post how much I’ve spent, but after doing the math…uh…I’d rather not. 🙂

Anyway, given the obvious interest out there, and the number of items I’ve purchased, I thought maybe I would put together a list of some of my favorite things from past napaJapan orders – things I buy over and over again and some of the limited edition stuff. So if you’re thinking of placing an order but aren’t sure about spending the money on stuff you might not like, maybe this will help you go for it and at least have some security that you can get some recommended items! A while back I did start to keep a spreadsheet of things I’d ordered and how they were…Jason carries so many items, and so many come in and out of stock due to seasonal manufacturing or whatever, that I had trouble keeping track of what I’d tried and what I want to keep ordering.

Also, in these less than comfortable financial times, I hope everyone keeps supporting small businesses if they can, even ones on the other side of the world that sell candy and snacks. Import and postal restrictions have started to have an impact on napaJapan. The slow (and least expensive) shipping option that I always pick is not currently available as the Japanese post office won’t accept these packages due to flight shortages. And some countries will not accept shipments. Plus deliveries are slower. For now the USA is OK, but depending on what country you live in, check with the site to be sure they can ship to you for the immediate future.

One more quick note – sign up for their mailing list at the bottom of the page. About once a month you’ll get an email with some new items and whatever deal Jason is running – a percentage off with a certain $ purchase and/or some free stuff, etc. If you have any interest, sign up. So let’s get to it!

This first one is a no brainer. I always have a bag or two (at least) on hand. I’m talking about Cuby Rop 8 Fruit Mix. I like hard candy, especially when the flavors are great. Many varieties of, I dare say most, Japanese candy has excellent, spot on flavors. So creative, so realistic. This is a bag that contains individual packets that each contain 2 little cubes of sweet, strongly flavored hard candy. And they’re totally randomly assigned, you could get any combination of different, or the same, flavors. I usually just pop them both in my mouth together 🙂 They last quite a while for small cubes and don’t usually dissolve such that they leave sharp edges, which can be a problem with hard candy. I especially like to pop in a couple when flying, just before takeoff and when they announce seat belts on for descent/landing. They last just about the right length of time to get through the ear popping times as I’m not a gum chewer.

Next up are Black Thunder candy bars. These are usually available in several varieties. The ‘plain’ version “has crunchy biscuit bits and dark crispy cookie center, all surrounded by milk chocolate”. The bar itself is nice and chocolatey crispy, then there are these little spheres of biscuit bits in them, all coated with decent milk chocolate (just a thin coating). The ‘normal’ size is, on reflection, a great size. About 4 or 5 small, or a couple of large, bites. Way smaller than American candy bars. But it’s really just enough as a snack after lunch, when I usually have them. If you’re starving and missed a meal, yeah this isn’t going to fill you up. I especially like the bitter/dark chocolate ones with a more bitter chocolate center and milk chocolate coating. Plus there are all sorts of limited edition flavors – some pretty weird, some a little weird. Some flavors have different things inside, too. I will say that I tried the Corn variety (“This version has chocolate cookie with crunchy rice puffs and puffed corn inside, all surrounded by milk chocolate”) – I don’t know what the heck was going on with this, but…wow, not for me! There are mini sized ones, also, that come in a bag (individually wrapped). They’re like 11-ish grams vs. 20-ish for the normal ones. They usually have different seasonal bags with themed wrappers. I’ve started buying the Halloween ones to give out to trick or treaters. I hope they’re not scared off by the Japanese text on the package and try them, they’re delicious! I think these could do well in the USA, not sure why they don’t sell them here, I’m not aware of an equivalent.

Hi Chew and, increasingly, a similar product, Puccho, should be familiar to Americans. But forget about the handful of tame flavors you can find here, their flavors seem endless in the Japanese market. The main difference is the little flavored gummy bits embedded in the Puccho soft chews. They both have amazingly accurate flavors. I’m not a huge fan of the gummy bits, but I regularly buy both just to try a variety. Puccho also has fun tie-ins where you buy a pack that has like tiny Disney Frozen erasers or itty bitty Minion figures in a little box at the end of the candy pack.

You all know Mentos, right? The varieties sold in Japan far exceed what you get here and usually taste great. I like to keep stocked up on rolls of Fresh Cola. The fruit ones tend to hit the spot for me – Peach, Pink Grapefruit, etc.

They come and go, but I tend to buy a bunch of dark chocolate/bitter/STRONG Snickers bars when they’re available. I already love regular Snickers bars, and I prefer dark chocolate, so these are right up my alley. They come as two small bars in a pack, too, so you don’t HAVE to eat them both at once and technically you COULD share… 🙂

I also like to try a lot of chips and that type of crunchy snacks…there are a lot of varieties that usually keep changing. Other than pizza flavored Jagariko Potato Sticks (which I LOVE) I won’t get into specific flavors or brands – it just depends on your taste, etc. Some flavors are pretty out there…I couldn’t resist getting a bag of Butter Scallop flavored Cheetos. This did not go well. I like scallops, they’re my go-to seafood. I like Cheetos. I’m here to tell you that these tasted EXACTLY like Cheetos that taste like buttered scallops. I couldn’t finish the bag. It’s frankly ludicrous how well they nail some of these flavors. One word of warning, Pringles puts out some interesting flavors in Japan, and they’re worth getting (Pringles are smaller sized crisps, by the way, there) but that can of crisps will probably be pretty banged up and the crisps in pieces. It’s not napaJapan’s fault, they ALWAYS have great packaging – sturdy boxes, newspaper and bubble wrap layers. There’s just no way to prevent them going that far in the mail with that much room in the tube, they bang around. If you don’t mind broken pieces, try a flavor that looks good. These flavors REALLY come and go, though, but ones I’ve really liked are double sour cream & onion, gyudon beef bowl, mayonnaise cheese, and yakitori skewered chicken. I snoozed on the beef bowl ones, gone by the time I tried them and wanted to order more. BEWARE that lately I’ve been having problems with customs on chips that are supposed to have a ‘meat’ flavor. They have been taking products and destroying them, incorrectly citing import requirements, like putting on the form that there was a pound of beef or something ludicrous that would trigger removal and destruction, when in fact the entire package of chips weighs less than that and the actual ‘meat’ might consist of some meat dust flavoring. They took lamb flavored chips and said it pork. You can try to order them, but I’ve sadly given up on ordering anything of this variety. I also believe 100% that these tasty snacks are not being ‘destroyed’… someone is enjoying some flavorful Japanese chips on my dime… I have also had completely meat free chips stolen out of a package that also had a meat flavored chip in them.

The last one I’ll point out are the Mitsuya Cider hard candy line. I’ve got like 6 bags of these in the pantry as I always want to have some at work. They’re bags of individually wrapped hard candy balls…a bit like old fashioned sour balls, but they have a sort of fizz to them. I like the bags with four different flavors, but have also gotten bags of the just lemon flavor. Accurate, tasty flavors. Beware that these do sometimes melt away leaving sharp edges that can be rough on the tongue.

Finally, I know, many of these companies also sell a different variety of flavored products in other countries, but obviously I’ve focused here on what is available on the Japanese market sold at napaJapan.