Chinese Candy 2: The Revenge
Full disclosure: this article was originally recorded on an aging video camera back in December 2009 and, almost amazingly, I have only just finished transcribing the tape. I find it hard to believe that Matthew and myself did this almost half a decade ago and yet I can still remember the taste of nearly all of the following sweets.
You know the drill by now – just like the first Chinese candy review, Matthew goes on a film shoot to China and brings back a variety of appalling Chinese confectionary. We eat them, they are disgusting, and you laugh at us.
Let the games begin!
MATTHEW: So. Here we are again, and it’s all my fault.
TOM: Where to start? That’s the question.
M: It’s like trying to choose between a number of excruciating methods of execution.
T: Shall we start with the Yang Geng?
M: You take the dark one, I’ll take the light one.
T: That’s racist.
M: You know, some of these could be good.
T: You said that last time, when I ended up unfavourably comparing some of them to used bathwater.
M: There is that.
T: Hmm, the smell… it’s like soap.
M: It smells organic! That’s a good start.
M: (eating it) How do they do it?!
T: We’re one sweet in and I want to stop!
M: That is so bad. Mine has an unidentified white object in it. It’s like a tooth! I’m going to stop right there.
T: It’s the texture more than anything.
M: It’s like they’ve thought ‘what’s the best part of a fig roll? I know, the fig! Let’s just take that part out, leave it in the sun for a while, and then sell it in a giant disgusting slab to China’.
T: Let’s go for something more solid this time.
M: How about these? It’s the general rule of sweets – if it’s wrapped in foil, it must be good.
M: What is that?! It’s a Christmas hat!
T: It’s the Chinese Santa Claus!
M: The Chinese Santa is covered in fur. And is also a koala.
T: It just looks like a regular chocolate. It could be the first good Chinese sweet! Here we go…
M: It does look a bit like two crusty hemispheres stuck together though.
T: Why… why can’t they even make chocolate? It tastes like they scraped the chocolate off of a Wheeto and put it into a sweet.
M: ‘Professor Wheeto’s Koala Spheres’
M: Now, we used to go to nan’s house and she’d give us those Terry’s Glacier Fruits or whatever they were called, and I loved them. These could be like that!
T: Famous last words.
M: They even have a sugar coating on them!
T: I’ll let you go first.
M: They’re… not too bad! They’re not disgusting, just a bit bland. Relatively speaking, they’re a 7/10! I’m just disappointed that we’ve got the one safe sweet out of the way so early in the game.
T: You sure about the 7? They are pretty boring.
M: I’ll take boring over utterly disgusting any day!
M: Whoa whoa whoa, what is that?!
T: (smelling it) Oh, that is musty!
M: That’s the hit of the whole fruit.
T: That is a distinct smell. It really reminds me of something.
M: Was it something you found down the back of the couch?
T: (eating it) Why?!
M: Chinese candy marketing board meeting: ‘hi guys, I’ve got a new idea for a sweet – it looks like a turd and tastes of nothing!’
T: ‘That's great, but what about the smell?'
M: ‘It’ll smell disgusting!’
T: What were they going for here? It’s like a bogey full of woodchips. It’s not just that it’s bad, I mean, what flavour were they actually aiming for?
M: Whatever it was, they’ve missed by a billion miles.
M: Time to bring some class back into the proceedings… with a nice bar of East Dignity! That’s right, they’ve taken a concept – an abstract concept – and have turned it into a physical sweet! Then assigned it a direction.
T: Oh… that’s a revelation. It looks like black pudding on steroids. It appears to be made out of warts.
M: The Chinese have received a lot of criticism for using coal-fire power stations, I think they’re hiding the coal by selling it as confectionary.
T: That is a nutty smell.
M: That can kill someone with peanut allergies from 100 metres.
T: (trying it) Oh my… I don’t want you to actually eat any of this, I literally just want you to put it between your teeth. You’ll see what I’m talking about.
M: (trying it) Oh wow. That is the most adhesive material known to man. That is amazing. What actually is it? It’s like it’s made entirely of seeds. But does it actually have any dignity? Does it come from the East?
T: It’s not actually that bad to lick, but it is far and away the least healthy sweet we’ve ever eaten, including the Jolly Ranchers. If you were to eat this I guarantee it would take out a filling or a tooth, I’m not even joking.
M: Still, at least it contains some sugar. This is quite advanced compared to most Chinese sweets! Then again I’m going to my dentist on Wednesday, I definitely won’t be telling him I had some of this.
T: Also, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the best sweet so far is a diamond-hard block of sugar covered in sesame seeds. Who thought this was a good idea?
M: A sadist with no tastebuds.
T: Let’s move on.
M: This has potential!
T: Ooh, that is a nutty smell.
M: That’s a spicy meatball! (eating it) Ooh, nasty. That hit the spot, if the spot was a thousand miles away from my taste buds.
T: That hit the spot, if the spot was in fact a giant ballsack.
M: (feeling it) Wow, that’s unexpected – it’s not adhesive. It’s like stroking a snake’s skin!
T: Oh no, no, I cannot eat another sweet with this texture again.
M: (eating it) Oh no! Oh. I have put it inside myself, and it is not good! Come join the party!
T: It’s like there’s a party in my mouth, and everyone has diarrhoea.
M: That is unfathomably bad. Whoever invented this should be bulldozed into the sea.
T: Or forced to eat this sweet for the rest of eternity.
M: I’m going to buy me a shotgun, fly to China, and take out some sweet executives.
M: I really want this one to be nice, because I need cheering up. I am going to chow-down on some White Rabbit. Ooh, it has a description!
T: What does it say?
M: ‘White Rabbit – Creamy Candy!’
T: I sure hope it’s creamy!
M: It is the sweet equivalent of xenon. It is completely inert.
T: I swear, if I were to get a crayon and eat it, it would taste exactly the same.
M: It’s just bursting with cream!
T: It’s like chewing on foam. I have fallen down the rabbit hole, and all I’ve found is sadness.
M: Oh dear, this doesn’t look good. However the packaging has cherries on it, and I like cherries! (eating it) Hold the front page – it’s not bad! It tastes… huh? WHAT IS THIS? THERE IS A HIDDEN SPIKE IN IT!
M: THERE IS A WOODEN SPIKE INSIDE IT FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON! You could have someone’s eye out with that!
T: Why… why?
M: I have an idea – instead of having some cherries on your packaging, you should replace them with a helpful message that says ‘warning: contains razor-sharp spike’
M: Oh my days. That looks like something that used to be inside a gerbil.
T: Ok, that’s ridiculous. It is rock hard.
(Tom bangs it against the table, nothing happens)
T: So, imagine you’re the creator. What is going through your mind? ‘Oh hey, I’ve just created a disgusting sweet! To make it even better, I’ll go cover it in cement!’
M: Ok, break all the coating off and let's see what it looks like.
M: OH NO! That is actual cat vomit! That has come straight out of a tabby cat’s mouth after it has eaten too much grass.
T: This tastes so, so bad. It’s your turn.
M: Oh, oh. You know how nearly all the other sweets taste like they have no sugar in?
M: That’s because all of the sugar went into this one! It is the King of Sugar.
T: It’s funny how we’ve complained about every other sweet having no sugar in, when this one has far, far too much.
T: Ok, so you’ve already had these in China?
M: Yes. What do you think it is?
T: I have no idea.
M: I've eaten these before, and I like them. I’m not kidding!
T: The smell bar has just reached an all-time low.
M: If it’s gone off, you probably shouldn’t eat it.
T: How can it go off if it’s a sweet?
M: Just eat it!
M: Hahahahaha! You wanted a sweet… but you got a meat!
T: Why. Why have you done this to me?
M: I genuinely liked it when my friend Ming gave it to me… when I was in China and hadn’t eaten protein for three weeks.
T: You need to try it again now.
M: This is not how I remember it at all! I need to get a tissue so I can weep into it.
M: Don’t worry, it’s sweets all the way from now! Maybe.
T: There are six! I’m going straight in with this one.
M: No, wait – Russian Roulette! For the audience at home, we’ve got green tea flavour, peanut flavour, chestnut flavour – that’s probably the one you want to avoid at this stage – jujube paste flavour, and the mysterious dasheen flavour! There's also one I can't read.
T: This is like one of those joke rounds in a terrible Japanese gameshow. Ok, let me pick…
M: He’s got the peanut!
T: This looks like an ominous combination of both the gelatinous sweets and the worst sweet ever that we had in the first Chinese candy review.
M: We agreed not to talk about those.
T: (examining it) Oh… oh! The texture! The smell! I am not joking, this is the only thing so far based purely on smell and texture that I might refuse to eat. I’m not kidding, I want you to smell this.
M: (taking a sniff) Oh! Ahhhh ohhhhh. OH. It smells like a DIRTY MATTRESS! Hahaha! It smells literally like when you clean out a mouse cage.
T: This is the worst smell by far.
M: That is astonishing. Chinese confectionary scientists have worked long and hard to come up with this.
T: Also, just look at it! It looks like a tiny pillow! Ok, here we go. Should I just put the whole thing in my mouth?
(Brief moment of complete silence)
T: No! NOOOOOOOO!
(Tom runs over to the sink and spits it out)
T: And to think, that was the peanut flavour! I didn’t swallow any of it. You remember the powder thing from the first Chinese candy review? This is that, only in gelatinous form.
M: Well, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be – bring on the roulette! Ok, I got green tea flavour, brilliant, I quite like green tea!
T: True, except I like peanuts and that was the worst thing ever.
M: Oh wow, do you know what the fourth ingredient is?
T: No idea.
M: Fruit-flavoured stuffing material! Also, it says, ‘usage: open, and edible’. Thanks for that!
T: Remember, I put the whole thing in my mouth. You really need to psych yourself up for this.
M: (laughing uncontrollably) It tastes like straw! It’s awful!
T: Oh boy, I guess we need to eat all of these. Tell you what, I’ll just open all of them and eat all of them at the same time.
M: Look at that! It’s Tom and his collection of roadkill.
T: I actually have a theory about the sell-by-date on these – if you eat them, it’s the day you die.
T: I can’t do it! I can’t do it. This chestnut one alone needs to go home.
M: Well, that went well.
M: This is basically the Chinese version of Guylian.
T: I’m going to be really sad if these taste awful.
M: I wouldn’t get your hopes up – it’s Chinese chocolate in the shape of a shrimp. It looks like something you’d buy in The Body Shop.
T: Down the hatch!
T: HOW HAVE THEY MANAGED TO SCREW THIS UP SO BADLY?
M: It’s not even successfully moulded into the shape of a shrimp! It has a hollow cavity!
T: Just… why? Why do they do this to me? Let’s move on.
M: This one is called ‘QIU’. Oh hey, it’s like a round boiled sweet! It’s like the ones you get in Britain, it could be good.
T: Can you please stop saying something could be good, because I am disappointed every time.
M: This sweet is going to rock my world!
M: That’s not good. It does taste slightly of ginger though.
T: Well that’s the thing, at least this actually has one discernible flavour. With this one I can say, ‘it’s not great, but it tastes a bit like ginger’, rather than, ‘it’s disgusting, and it tastes like nothing at all’.
M: Reassuringly there isn’t much left. I think we need get these ‘Chocos’ out of the way.
T: Didn’t we have something exactly like this last time?
M: We had a variant of the Choco.
T: (eating it) That is unacceptable.
M: Directions for use: place in cannon, fire into the sea.
M: What’s interesting is that these sweets are clearly modelled on the famous Egyptian pyramids. As you might recall, the pyramids contained the mummified corpses of long-dead humans.
T: (opening one) OH! EUUURGGGH! I should not have inhaled! The smell is appalling.
M: This reminds me of the time I was in the Orinico river basin in Venezuela and I found a dead anaconda in a stream. I lifted its head up with my boot, and all of the air that had been trapped in its bloated body rushed up its oesophageal tract and hit me in the face. I stumbled backwards and almost vomited into the water.
T: That is amazing. Should we open them all up and put them together for a photo?
M: This feels like a really bad idea. It’s like in Ghostbusters when they cross the streams. Can you imagine if we died from doing this, and the police came and broke down the door only to find all this sweet paraphernalia? They would come to the conclusion that we were sugar addicts on a sweetie bender.
T: It’s like I’m eating an egg. Honestly I’m not even amused anymore, I am no longer surprised by how bad these are.
M: I’d say that I’m disappointed. And by ‘disappointed’ I of course mean ‘appalled’. The funny thing is that, from eating all of these so far, I don’t think I’ve had as much sugar as there is in a single bar of Snickers.
M: Now, I know what these are already, so let’s have these. Look at the picture on the front – it’s a happy family, enjoying this product. Keep in mind I ate these every day.
T: Every day?
M: When I was in a forest in China, I ate these every day.
T: Well… then they can’t be that bad?
M: It was a bad place. I seriously needed nutrition.
T: This is undoubtedly a new visual low. Is this meat again? Is this meat again?
M: A reminder: I ate these every day. They looked like they had gone off even then. The food was so bad, I ate one of these every day.
M: (laughing uncontrollably)
T: That is absolutely beyond foul. That is, straight up, a zero. Would you like to try some again?
M: Not really. It is a taste I will never forget.
T: Right, we're nearly done – do we go for the one that looks like a teabag, or the small box with the prawn on the side?
M: It’s got to be the teabags.
T: Surely we don’t just eat these? Are we meant to do something with them?
M: Are you supposed to wash your car with them?
T: The following words are printed on the packaging: ‘Processed with modern technics’. 'PROCESSED WITH MODERN TECHNICS'!
M: Let's have a big old bite.
T: The real question I have here is: why? Why did someone bother making these? It’s not even that it’s bad, it’s just that this stuff on the outside is rice paper – so it tastes of nothing – and this jelly stuff in the middle has no flavour, so of course it also tastes of nothing.
M: They’re not actually that bad! I’d give them a six.
T: I would not give them a six. They are awful, Chinese flying saucers.
M: Get excited – it’s a Snickers! These are actually quite expensive in China and, if I had to guess, they are probably not as good as the ones over here.
T: Get it in there!
M: Despite not usually liking Snickers, this is a mighty-fine chocolate.
T: The funny thing is I’m not usually a huge fan of Snickers either, but on the Chinese candy scale, this is a ten.
M: During our China shoot we stayed in the middle of nowhere for twelve days, and we each had twelve Snickers. On the first night, my boss ate five of them.
T: Well, this is it - the grande finale!
M: I really hope this isn’t actually made of prawns.
T: Well, that’s disappointing – it looks no different from anything we’ve eaten before.
M: Except the centre has been replaced with a delicious, tangy shrimp! I’m kidding.
M: Oh, that is rough. You know those praline wafer tube things you put in ice cream, like a Caprice? It’s a really awful version of those.
T: I actually really like a Caprice, and I really like shrimps, and yet I don’t like any of this.
IT’S TIME FOR THE CHINESE CANDY 2: THE REVENGE ROUNDUP!
T: How would you compare this to the original Chinese candy review?
M: Well, this time we kind of knew what to expect – an unremitting chain of horror.
T: This one was more consistently unpleasant. Still, nothing was as bad as the cement powder or the IVF jelly pots from the first time round.
M: Those were just unbelievable. Still, you loved the meat this time!
T: I did not love the meat. Do you reckon we’re going to do another one of these?
M: Maybe, but I need time to recover first.
T: To everyone reading this, please note that Matthew bought all of these sweets and therefore this is the closest I have ever come to hating him.