Saturday, May 27, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--A Singaporean Sweet

     As has happened a time or two before, while the product I'll be discussing was technically manufactured in Singapore, the overall company is actually Japanese.  Obviously I'm counting it, but I understand if purists might not agree.  The company is Meiji Seika Kaisha, Ltd., which has been around, under various titles, since 1916.  In addition to candy, this company produces milk, ice cream, infant formula, and beauty supplements.  Also what the website calls, "functional yogurt."  Which leads me to question--are there nonfunctional yogurts?  And what is the function of these yogurts?  (I'll ignore the obvious scatological answer.)  This is yet another gift from the wonderful Wegman's grocery, whose ethnic aisles never fail to reward me with things to write about.
     To me, the most interesting aspect about Singapore is that it's one of the few remaining sovereign city-states, or, a nation that essentially consists of one city and a very limited surrounding area.  Think ancient classic places like Sparta, Athens, or Carthage, or more recently, Venice and Novgorod.  The exact definition of a city-state is debatable, but most geographers list only 3 current ones.  Monaco and Vatican City are the other two.   (Qatar, Brunei, Bahrain, Malta, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Macau, and even Dubai and Abu Dabhi are considered to be almost, but not quite city-states given their slightly too large sizes, and other features.)  Singapore is also the third most densely populated nation on Earth, after Macau and Monaco, with 5.6 million people living in 719.2 square kilometers (278 square miles).  It consists of one main island and 62 islets.
     The dessert food I tried was a type of Yan Yan.  This product is quite similar to Pocky sticks, which I talked about in my September 21, 2016 post about some Thai sweets.  There's one main difference.  Pocky sticks come covered with a flavored coating, such as green tea or chocolate.  The Yan Yan container holds cracker sticks on one side, and a sweet dipping sauce on the other.  The sticks are usually plain, but occasionally they are pre-flavored, too.  The dipping sauces range from chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mango, yogurt, and hazelnut.  I tried the strawberry kind.
     Additionally Yan Yans are noted for their "fun word" stamps on the crackers.  Most of these are associated with animals, like, "Seal loves to sun tan," "Bats only at night," Chick lucky color yellow," and, "Beetle love it."  (Rather unoriginally, they maintain that the octopus's lucky number is 8--I was hoping for something unexpected, like 12,763,003, or 5.75928.)
     The cracker sticks rods are about 10 cm. (about 4 inches) long, about the diameter of a pencil, and brownish yellow in color.  The dipping sauce was sticky and absurdly pink.  The Yan Yans were pretty good.  The rods by themselves were fairly plain and tasteless, but with the dip they were quite tasty.  Sweet, but not overly so.  I liked them a bit more than the best of the Pocky sticks.  I will try these again, and/or sample the other flavors if I can.  Finally, the label goes out of its way to mention that these Yan Yans do not contain pig fat, so these treats are appropriate for Muslim, Jewish, and vegetarian consumers to enjoy.

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