Koeda is Japanese for twigs, and as you can see from the box, these are little knobbly twigs of milk chocolate. Inside each box are twelve individual packets, each containing four ‘twigs’ in a variety of flavours.
In typical Japanese style, even the inside of the box is decorated, with the lid offering instructions to the consumer.
As you can see the ‘woodland’ theme extends into the box itself, although the individual packets are somewhat lacking in rural symbolism.
My Koeda came in eight different flavours – ‘original’ Koeda, Vanilla, Walnut, Cashew, Tea, Wheat, Sugar Beet and Sugar Cane. Each packet carries English and Japanese translations of the flavours (thank goodness) and is accompanied by a rather old fashioned looking illustration of the added ingredient. These little paintings wouldn’t look out of place in the sketchbook of a Victorian botanist, and seem somewhat at odds with my general perception of Japanese branding, but I suppose Morinaga decided to go all out with the ‘country’ feel. The designers certainly didn’t waste any space – there’s information and pictures all over every inch of this product, as seems to be the norm.
When it comes to the tasting part, I have to say that it took a bit of effort to distinguish the various flavours. A minimum of two of the four twigs was required to give me a hint of the ‘other’ ingredients, and they weren’t exactly bursting with flavour. Had I not seen that there were different flavours I night not have been able to discern any major differences between the various packets, but with eyes closed and the chocolate melting slowly in my mouth, I did manage to pick up the flavours of vanilla and nuts and the sweetness of the sugar cane and beet.
The chocolate itself isn’t anything special. It’s fairly bland, standard issue ‘factory’ milk chocolate – the sort of thing millions of confectionery companies use, and completely run-of-the-mill. A clear case of style over content which left me wondering how these would taste if they were a) bigger and b) made with better quality chocolate.