Beginners Guide: Popular Japanese Candy & Snack Brands

15 August 2021 by Oliver

The world of Japanese candy is an amazing place to explore. There is no end to the kind of flavors and textures of snacks you’ll find in Japan, and it can safely be called a snack lovers paradise.

But getting started with Japanese snacks can be a slightly more difficult task. When you start checking out the snacks in the monthly Japanese candy and snack box TokyoTreat or seeing all the tasty Japanese snacks on JapanHaul, you might be met with a mixture of new and familiar names.

But which is better and what are the best ones to try? Starting off can be daunting, as can just going in randomly and picking something at your local Asian supermarket can be both costly and result in a bad pick.

That's why we've put together a handy beginners guide to trying Japanese snacks for the first time. First, we'll be splitting them into two categories:

・Japanese Brands

・Foreign Brands with Japanese Flavors or a Japanese Twist

From there, we’ll be highlighting a few of our favorites that you need to try!

Part 1: Japanese Brands

What first comes to mind when you first think of Japanese snacks? Perhaps chewy Japanese rice cakes, mochi, or crunchy senbei rice crackers? And you would definitely be correct. These traditional snacks remain popular even to this day.

But for every traditional snack there are a plethora of delicious and modern must-try Japanese snacks and candy alongside them.

1. Pocky

These Japanese biscuit sticks are potentially the best known Japanese snack brand overseas and for many people, it is their first exposure to Japanese snacks. The famous chocolate covered cookie stick first launched in Japan in 1966 and has been a hit among locals ever since. 

Thanks to its easy to eat shape and the fact that they are perfect for sharing, they are also gaining plenty of popularity overseas. Along with their ever-growing list of flavors, from springtime sakura to wintery caramel, their popularity won't be disappearing anytime soon!

Want to snack on Japan-exclusive Kit Kats and other Japanese candy & snacks ASAP? TokyoTreat delivers delicious Japanese snacks for you to enjoy at home!

2. Hi-Chew

Another super popular choice for Japanese candy comes in the form of chewy Hi-Chew goodness. First launched in 1975, Hi-Chew has been much beloved in Japan for many years, thanks to its unique soft texture and assorted fruity flavors. It even made its way to the States, leading many people to even wonder 'is Hi-Chew a Japanese candy?'

If you’re interested in learning more about tasty Hi-Chew, check out this handy guide!

3. Calpis

Calpis (a.k.a Calpico) is one of the most interesting and unique Japanese sodas on the market. Being over 100 years old, the milky and slightly acidic flavor is iconic in Japan. Often you’ll find it in its original yogurt flavor, but you can also find it in fruity varieties such as grape or strawberry. 

Calpis even branched out into Calpis Soda. The delicious Calpis flavor has an added layer of originality in its fizzy form. Imagine melon soda with an acidic milky twist for an amazing Japanese soft drink experience that you won't want to miss! 

Part 2: Foreign Brands in Japan

While snacks that originated in Japan are certainly unique and an amazing first Japanese snack experience, brands that you might find familiar are often ones to watch for too. Snack makers from foreign brands in Japan often work hard to create unique and fun treats that feature amazing Japanese flavors.

4. KitKat Japan

The undisputed king of original Japanese chocolate, Japanese KitKat makers are never afraid to play with unique Japanese flavors. From interesting sakura sake to a pleasantly sweet strawberry mochi, Japanese KitKats experiment with seasonality in order to create something unique to stand out from their global counterparts. 

5. Frito Lay Japan

While Lay's chips might not scream interesting and unique to a western audience, Frito Lay Japan works hard to give their famous snacks an extra Japanese twist! 

Last year we saw the launch of the spicy and savory Soy Sauce and Wasabi Doritos. And more recently we saw the drop of Japanese 7 Spice Mike Popcorn. With all of these unique flavors, there's always a chance for a new Japanese savory snacking experience to be had.

6. Japanese Fanta

The Coca-Cola Company in Japan loves to play around with new flavors in the Japanese market, sometimes more than in overseas markets. From trying peach Fanta to muscat yogurt flavored Fanta, there are some flavors you'll only find in Japan. But they don't stick around for too long, so make sure to try them before they're gone!

Obviously there are so many more awesome brands out there that would amaze not only beginners but also Japanese snack experts, releasing limited edition Japanese snacks every month! Trying everything can be pretty tricky though. That’s why you need to leave all your Japanese snacking to TokyoTreat! 

We can hook you up with all the must try Japanese snack brands for you to try every month. Why not take a look at what awesome Japanese snacks and candy are coming in this month's box! 

Let us know in the comments below what kinds of popular Japanese snacks and candy sound best to you!

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