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Dagashi: All Time Japanese Candies and Snacks Available with One Coin

While various kinds of sweets and snacks are available in Japan, including wagashi (Japanese confectionery) and yougashi (confectionery from Europe), there is a fun category called dagashi, where low-priced candies and snacks mainly for children belong.

In the 1980s, the late Showa era, when I was in elementary school, lots of dagashi shops existed here and there, and in the 1990s, after the time shifted to Heisei, the kids' favorite places began to disappear. However, today, dagashi has become available at supermarkets and convenience stores again though the number of items is limited depending on each store.

When we say "one coin" today, it indicates a JPY500 coin, but "one coin" for me in my childhood meant a JPY100 coin, and I used to go to a dagashi shop and buy candies and snacks with a JPY100 coin. Only a couple of times did I go to the shop, holding a coin in my hand and thinking about what to buy that day, which was very exciting. After getting my snacks, I used to eat them while hanging around with friends playing card games and Famicom games when we stayed in a house. When I played with friends outside, we did a horizontal bar, rode on a swing, climbed a jungle gym, did hopscotch, etc., accompanied by my favorite food I got on the day.

Now I'd like to share some of the dagashi snacks I used to buy with a JPY100 coin, recalling my childhood.

NB: Prices are as of February 2023 and can be different depending on the store or time.

These are just a part of dagashi sweets and snacks.

1. ヤングドーナツ (Young Doughnuts)

Used to be JPY30; Currently JPY52

I used to eat this snack at elementary school, from the lower to the middle grades (6-10 years old). Savory snacks were my absolute favorites, but ヤングドーナツ (Young Doughnuts) was one of the only two sweet stuff that I liked. The diameter of the teeny-tiny doughnut is just 4 centimeters (about 1.5 inches). It has been a long time since I ate the doughnut, but the snack still tastes good! However, when I ate it, I felt the deliciousness rather than nostalgia and thought this product was perfect for small hunger. A chocolate flavor (JPY70 for a pack of 5) was released in 2016.

2. すもも漬け(Sumomo-zuke)

Used to be JPY30; Currently JPY54

すもも漬け(Sumomo-zuke)is the product of plums pickled in sweetened vinegar. There was another product without the pickling liquid, but I kept buying the former because both prices were the same, and I thought it was better value for money. I enjoyed drinking the sweetened vinegar after cooling it or eating it after freezing to make it like sorbet.

3. 甘いか太郎 メンタイ風味 (Amaika Tarō Mentai-Fūmi)

Used to be JPY20; Currently JPY22

甘いか太郎 (Amaika Tarō) is a sweet and salty sheet-shaped snack made from minced fish, and my fingers got sticky whenever I ate this product. As a grown-up, I think it tastes like a delicacy that goes well with liquor, and now I want to try this snack with Japanese sake. There was another flavor of kimchee packed in a yellow pouch, but the smell was so strong that I used to secretly had one when my parents were out.

4. うまい棒 めんたい味 (Umaibō Mentai-aji)

Used to be JPY10; Currently JPY13

I believe all Japanese would know this product. This 11-centimeter-long corn puff snack, うまい棒 (Umaibō), was born in 1979. Among the various flavors, the mentai (cod roe marinated in red chili peppers and other seasonings) flavor is so popular, as well as the cheese. However, it doesn't taste like the chili-seasoned cod roe, but the color of paprika powder makes me feel that it tastes like somehow the chili hot fish roe, which also makes me want another. This taste can be a favorite of many people from around the world. The variety of flavors is a lot, so please try some.

5. ふ菓子 (Fugashi)

Used to be JPY10; Currently JPY22

ふ菓子 (fugashi) is a kind of sweet made of 麩 (fu), baked dough mixed with flour, water, and wheat gluten, coated with syrup mixed with hot water and white and brown sugar. What I bought this time is about 10-centimeter-long, but in my memory, the ones I used to have were about 20-centimeter-long, twice as big as the current one. Each piece was not packed individually in those days, but several were in a jar. So, I used to ask a lady at the store, "Ma'am, may I have one of them, please?" then I took one out of the container. I like the thicker coated edges because the smell and taste of brown sugar were slightly strong.

How did you like the snacks?

About 35 years after my childhood, I am happy that there are still many products I used to know but shocked that most have not been priced up so much. It should not be a bad thing to raise the prices a bit more if their tastes and qualities and the economic status of Japan are well considered.

In any way, are there any kinds of low-priced candies and snacks like the ones above in your country too?

We are happy to hear your comments!

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