Japanese junk food, candy and sodas beat American-made crap

MAXXply

Hall of Fame
ORIGINALLY TITLED: "Japanese packaged food and drink: Better quality than US/EU?"

I've just returned from an enjoyable week in Tokyo. My first time in Japan. I have been exposed to Japanese packaged food and drink brands before, but not to the extent I was in-country. It was amusing and amazing, definitely an eye-opener for someone accustomed to Aussie and Western junk food and confectionery.

Does anyone know if Japanese packaged food (convenience foods, candy, ice cream etc) and drink manufacturing and ingredient standards are any better or worse than food standards in Western countries?

For example, I noticed their flavoured iced teas are far less sweet than anything I've had in Oz. Their biscuits (US: cookies) were also much less sweet. On the flipside, their mainstream vanilla ice cream (Lotte) had the mouth feel of frozen soap.

What are some anecdotal facts about how awesomely good or woefully bad Japanese junk food is?
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
I don't know if there's any real difference in quality, but there's certainly a difference in taste/preference. Not uncommon to see shrink-wrapped packages of things like octopus tentacle bits sold at newsstands. And of course the Japanese love jellied candies and desserts.
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
You made me curious about the quality of their food, found an article published in The Economist in 2000 called "Japanese Food Industry; Rotten" describing various quality calamities the industry there has had.
 

MAXXply

Hall of Fame
You made me curious about the quality of their food, found an article published in The Economist in 2000 called "Japanese Food Industry; Rotten" describing various quality calamities the industry there has had.
Yes, that's the jarring aspect of it...on one hand the Japanese are so exacting and fastidious about what they consume, yet on the other there are the tales of lax/inadequate standards or ingredients that would make the FDA authorities in Western countries blush and disgust Western consumers.

I was attracted by the packaging of some cookies described as 'peanut butter and chocolate'. They were nice, very light and without any cloying over-sweetness or greasiness. On the other hand I had a 'chocolate brownie' made by the same brand that tasted like it was a concoction of Frankenfood chemicals and ingredients.

I also wonder if they source the majority of their fresh vegetables from China where food security is a big issue for Western markets who also source their produce from there.
 

mmk

Hall of Fame
I've had green-tea flavored KitKats from Japan that were very good. I understand that in Japan there are many flavors of KitKats. I'd be curious as to how their standard chocolate KitKats taste, as there is quite a difference between those made in the UK, USA and Australia. The biscuits in the UK version are a bit more toasted than those in the US, and while I love KitKats, I did not like the Australian version at all.
 

Mike Bulgakov

G.O.A.T.
Cost Plus in America has some nice options. Japan has many of the strangest snacks I have ever seen. Extreme flavours seems to be a common theme. I prefer my crackers not to have strange balls that taste like 100-year-old rotting fish.
 

scotus

G.O.A.T.
OP, you are right that Japanese snacks have more subtle flavors in terms of sugar and salt. Of course, to westerners, there's nothing subtle about the taste of miso, wasabi and some of their seafoods.

Perhaps one generalization I can safely make is the serving size. It's much smaller than the typical American size (I don't know anything about Australian cuisine).
 

coolblue123

Hall of Fame
There used to be a East Asian Junk Food store called Aji Ichiban. They sell all sorts of candies and dried parts from a godzilla movie by weight there. It wasnt bad but it was awfully expensive. But alot of junk food from east asia uses all your taste buds as well as having a variety of textures.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Do you have the number for the US?
According to various sources, US consumption was at an all time high in 1999. These sources put an annual per capita consumption around 55-64 lbs. According to the table below it was about 42% of all caloric sweeteners. As of 2013, it was under 44 lbs (and 34%).

http://www.ers.usda.gov/datafiles/Sugar_and_Sweeteners_Yearbook_Tables/US_Consumption_of_Caloric_Sweeteners_/table50.xls

https://news.usc.edu/44415/high-fructose-corn-syrup-linked-to-diabetes/
 

MAXXply

Hall of Fame
I've brought back for a friend KitKat wafers in various flavours - Sweet Potato, 'Baked Cheesecake' and Strawberry. Will be interesting to try. I missed out on the black burger at Burger King (Shibuya).
I notice they're big on canned cold black coffee versus the milk-based cold coffees that predominate in Australian shops.
 

Rentaroo

New User
Our Japanese and Taiwanese exchange students often receive care packages of snacks from their parents. I love sharing some of the more interesting snacks with my coworkers. Squid jerky...hahahaha!
 

Sentinel

Bionic Poster
I used to have this cold coffee from the coffee dispensers on road sides (100 yen iirc) which i loved.

I remember once bringing back a Skippy's PB from Tokyo and everyone here said it was far better than the American one. Even the packet of butter I brought back once was loved by everyone :)
 
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