Halloween is a time for brilliance and creativity, for surprising looks and bold statements. But while fun and cleverness about in the costume and home decoration arenas, it seems like candy always gets left behind. Every year, it's the same old thing: Reese's cups and lollipops, Butterfingers and Tootsie Rolls, and that one house where they pass out candy corn.
This year, while you're planning a your exciting costume, why not give your candy bowl a facelift, too? %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Asian grocery stores -- my favorite go-to source for creative sodas and innovative convenience foods -- are also a treasure-trove of strange and wonderful candies the kids in your neighborhood won't be seeing at every other house. As an added plus, most Asian candies don't contain high-fructose corn syrup, partially-hydrogenated oils, nor many of the other fake-food ingredients that plague American candy. Admittedly, they're a bit more expensive, but if there's one holiday that practically screams for a candy splurge, it's Halloween.
Here are a few great Asian candies that were taste-tested and reviewed by members of the DailyFinance staff:
8 Unusual Asian Candies to Jazz Up Your Halloween Handouts
Trick Out Your Treats with Exotic Candies from the Asian Market
Forget Gummi Bears: When it comes to weird, exciting gummy candies, Kasugai is king. These soft, chewy disks come in dozens of flavors, including muscat grape, melon, lemon, mango and strawberry. It's hard to choose the best one, but kiwi is a definite contender, with a fresh, light flavor that one reviewer described as "juicy."
The illustration on the package of Cola hard candy echoes a Coke bottle, a design choice that our resident cola expert found a bit inaccurate: According to him, the flavor was more closely imitated RC Cola. Either way, these little hard candies manage to perfectly evoke the classic fizzy flavor of carbonated cola.
If you've been craving the intense, brutal tartness of an old fashioned sour warhead candy, you might like these little lemon morsels. With an intensely acidic flavor that borders on painful, they should come with a warning: They're definitely not for small children, although the Roy Lichtenstein-esque packaging should give your more mature friends a smile.
This is another one that you might think twice before giving out to the kiddies. Made with real coffee, these candies have a smooth, creamy flavor that is reminiscent of canned Starbucks espresso. A favorite among our tasters, one of whom described it as "smoky and delicious."
Did you know that Americans like to mix berries with their milk? Me either. But the American flavor in Lion brand's mixed bag is "berry milk." As for the rest of the world, these hard candies are a cornucopia of cultural tastes: Belgian chocolate, French caramel, Italian espresso, Japanese matcha, Filipino banana, British tea and Chinese annin. Our tasters loved these, describing them as "subtle" and "tasty."
At first, you may be forgiven for thinking that Nishin's mango candies are just like every other hard mango candy on the market. After all, they're hard and taste like mango. Then you get to the dense jelly center and realize that Nishin just dropped the mic. All other mango candies, consider yourself served.
Basically, this one tastes like sweetened condensed milk crossed with salt-water taffy, with perhaps a hint of creme brulee. While none of our tasters claimed this one as a particular favorite, they nonetheless disappeared quickly.
Remember when I said that it's hard to choose the best Kasugai gummy? Well, in that vein, I'd have to argue that it's also pretty tough choosing which one to buy. So I cheated a bit and chose two: kiwi and "ramune." Named after a popular Japanese soda, ramune has a light lemon/lime flavor and the candy tastes a little fizzy. Our reviewers didn't love it, which was fine: That meant more left for me.