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Another Festival of Läkerol Licorice Goodness
Colorful Tastiness Läkerol Licorice -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/30 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
Colorful Tastiness
Läkerol Licorice

Photo-buddy Damien Douxchamps came back from a trip to Finland, and sent me a huge care package of Läkerol, the not-available-in-Japan candy he introduced me to last year (seen on my blog in “Cornucopia of Tasty Läkerol Licorice” and then later in “Priceless: Candy and Pottery in a Surprisingly Tasteful Display”).

Santa Came Early -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 4500 — image data
Santa Came Early

The care package included 122(!) boxes of a dozen different Läkerol flavors (many new to me), plus a few extra odds and ends.

Some of the boxes were exceptionally colorful, and some were exceptionally colorless...

Colorful though I don't yet know what actual flavor “Africa Gold” might be describing -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/20 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
Colorful
though I don't yet know what actual flavor “Africa Gold” might be describing
Colorful and Colorless in real life, the name of the black-box candy is almost undetectable -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/25 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
Colorful and Colorless
in real life, the name of the black-box candy is almost undetectable
Name Revealed (Sort Of) through some aggressive post processing -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/4 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
Name Revealed (Sort Of)
through some aggressive post processing

I'm also not sure what tastes these names (“Black Diamond” and “Sparkling”) might represent. At least “Elderflower” is probably pretty clear to someone who has an idea what an elderflower tastes like, but I'm not among them.

Discovering the tastes, and mixing and matching them, is half the fun.

Bemuse yet beguiling -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/15 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
Bemuse
yet beguiling

Another taste I'm not currently familiar with is kumquat, nor what that taste might have to do with elephants (in what might be northern India?). Maybe elephants eat kumquat? Maybe elephants taste like kumquat? Having eaten neither, at present the connection is left up to the imagination.

Among the non-Läkerol items in Damien's care package was a bottle of licorice liquor from Finland, with an almost unreadable label.

“The Original 013” whatever that means -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 5 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
“The Original 013”
whatever that means

It took some creative lighting and aggressive post-processing to make out the full label:

KOSKENKORVA SALMIAKKI THE ORIGINAL 013 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2013 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 3 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — image data
KOSKENKORVA
SALMIAKKI
THE ORIGINAL 013

The third line is clearly English, but I don't understand the rest. Perhaps it's Finnish?

As far as I know, this stuff is not marketed in any English-speaking country, but there's English all over. Maybe it's the same as it is in Japan, where English is “cool”. But then, Japan has a history of deep ties to America (not the least of which is having been occupied and ruled by America for seven years after WWII), so the English here is a bit more baffling.

The bottle neck labeling says “Suomi 〜 Finland” (Suomi is Finnish for “Finland”). The back label is almost all English: “Deep in its dark, liquorice-infused heart, Koskenkorva Salmiakki is an unforgettable drinking experience waiting to be released. Drink as shots, but don't be misled.I have no idea what that means, either. It goes onExperience the spirit of Finland and taste Finnish folklore.” This is marketingspeak on overdrive.

It also notes: “Please, shake well.”  So very polite.

It says “Liqueur” and “Contains Liquorice” in English and two other languages.

Anyway, despite labeling that leaves me scratching my head, the stuff is tasty when used in extreme moderation. Adding a few drops (literally) to a big glass of Coke gives it a surprisingly strong, durable, pleasing licorice taste. I can't possibly imagine taking a spoonful of this stuff, much less a shot as it suggests.

Damion had once given me an almost-empty bottle he happen to have brought with him to Kyoto, with less than 1mm of liquid left at the bottom, but it lasted me almost a year. This full bottle may well last 30. It's a gift that keeps on giving.


Comments so far....

Salmiak candy (liquorice with some added salt, ammonium chloride) is a common souvenir from Finland, although not many people appreciate its taste outside the Nordics and the Netherlands. Most Japanese I’ve met haven’t been able to finish even one candy; I’ve only met one who actually liked it.

I see from the box shot that you have at least one pack of the proper stuff in there, too, in addition to all the mild, ordinary liquorice. Do you like it? Maybe us Finns have a slightly twisted sense of humor, but it’s fun to see how people react, like here:

http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Souvenir-Potpourri-Salmiak-Attack.aspx

I’m not sure which is the “proper stuff”, but all the Läkerol I’ve tried are pretty mild, including the “Salmiak” (which Wikipedia tells me is “salty liquorish”). Maybe surprises await elsewhere in the box? —Jeffrey

— comment by Ville Misaki on September 5th, 2013 at 2:40pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

The one that says “Salmiakki pastilli” (and usually anything that says “salmiakki”) is what I would consider “proper stuff” — it’s the salt that makes the difference, and many people just can’t stand it. I love it, and you seem at least tolerant to it. The booze is the same stuff, and was withdrawn from the market for some years because it was too popular among teenagers…

Have you tried offering salmiak to people around you? I’m sure you’ll know what I mean soon enough. :)

I hadn’t tried that one yet, and just did. To me, as a kid growing up in America, it’s the taste I called “liquorish” (or maybe “real liquorish” or “black liquorish” to differentiate from Twizzlers). It’s great! —Jeffrey

— comment by Ville Misaki on September 5th, 2013 at 4:29pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

A few things:

- Koskenkorva is the brand
- Salmiakki is…well… the Finn explained it :)
- The two languages are Finnish and Swedish. English is everywhere in Finland (and presumably other Nordic countries); they don’t expect you to speak their impossible language.
- I won’t spoil the fun of discovering what each tastes like (and I don’t know all the flavours anyway) but you already tried Elderflowers last time I was in Kyoto. Obligatory Monty Python link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8Afv3U_ysc
- The liquorice liquor (!) is very easy to drink (read: sweet) and you don’t really feel the 32%, hence the problem with young drinkers that Ville was referring to. I like to put a little bit of the second bottle you got in my Salmiakki drink to lighten the taste. But be warned it’s even easier to drink, and the alcohol level can only rise :)
- I added a tin box so you can do remixes on-the-go.
- According to my Finnish friends the “Naturals” from Frazer (big brand) are supposed to be of a higher quality than the Lakerols. We’ll see, but there’s only two flavours so I don’t think Frazer will win this one.

~~ Santa

— comment by Damien on September 5th, 2013 at 7:41pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Surprised it got past the Customs inspectors..

Why? —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob on September 5th, 2013 at 9:30pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

As Ville says, the Dutch have their licorice (drop) too, but not in so many flavors. They are sold everywhere and vending machines, usually in some combination of hard/soft salty/sweet white/black.
An acquired taste, but getting pretty addictive if you can get pass the first one…

— comment by luc on September 5th, 2013 at 10:46pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

> Bob:

Sweets are not an issue at the customs. Alcohol-wise I had 8 bottles to declare, for which I paid 500円 in taxes. So cheap it’d be stupid to smuggle :D

They did frown on the salamis though, and told me that normally I couldn’t bring meat. But there wasn’t a lot so they didn’t confiscate it. Nice guys.

— comment by Damien on September 5th, 2013 at 11:06pm JST (1 year ago) comment permalink

Kumquats are easily available in Japan! They are called kinkan (きんかん) and are delicious if you pay up for the good ones and know how to eat them: just eat everything but the seeds. The peel is sweet and the flesh is sour.

(The steep price-quality curve for fruit is one of the more amazing features of food procurement in Japan…)

— comment by ColoZ on October 13th, 2013 at 4:26am JST (11 months, 8 days ago) comment permalink
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