In Japan, coffee jelly is a gelatin treat. The jelly tastes like black coffee, so it's served with either cream or sugary syrup. During summer, ice-cold coffee jelly—with its interplay of bitter and sweet—hits the spot. And a cultural snackologist like me knows just how iconic this tasty treat is in Japanese diners and cafes.
So when I saw Fit's Magiq Coffee Jelly in my local snack haven, I was intrigued—slightly disgusted—but intrigued. Disgusted? Oh yes. See, so much of what makes coffee jelly a taste sensation in summer time is the chilly temperature at which it is served. How can a gum pull that off? I feared that this could be the snack equivalent of flat, warm beer.
But this isn't any gum. Oh no, this is Fit's Magiq. "Magiq" because it will pull off all kinds of tricks in your mouth. Most recently, Fit's Magiq released Dragon Quest Slime flavored gum. But that's boring when there's coffee jelly to chew and ponder.
Let's talk about the approach, shall we? The packaging (see top) features jelly bits, drenched in cream. Okay, so we should expect traditional coffee jelly palette fireworks of bitter and sweet. Gotcha. But what's this? There's a dash of mint. Hrm, it's a garnish, but there it is on the package, implying that it will be much more than just for presentation. Foreshadowing.
Regular Fit's chewers will know that the moment you open the gum, there are instructions. Look, not everyone knows how to pull out pieces of gum. Some need help. Don't be a jerk. Don't judge.
But more than the instructions, opening the pack sends a waft; however, the pungent fragrance of coffee is then overpowered by a slightly stronger smell, another familiar smell: mint. The result is a sweet, minty coffee odor. Also, I detect a whiff of milk.
After locating and extracting what I think will be a winner, I examine the brown piece of gum, and then start chewing. Coffee beans, I say (I say this aloud, mind you). But, this isn't a smooth gum chew—there are flavor crystals to contend with. There's a rush of sugar and a milky flavor. For a moment, I think I am actually chewing coffee jelly.
But it's not cold; it's room temperature—flat. To give the effect of a lower temperature, the mint really kicks in. Yet, the mint flavor is strong and overpowering. The longer I chew, the more that initial rush of coffee jelly subsides. And all I'm left with is a bad mint aftertaste. It's as though, I'm trying to spoon up warm leftovers from a coffee jelly some lucky individual already wolfed down, and there's only soppy mint leaves. It's just you and me, mint.
Coffee jelly is a valiant try. It's not bad at all. More than an "E" for "Effort", there's so much to contend with—both the coffee and the jelly as well as coffee jelly's place in Japanese snackestry. The chewing gum wizards came close—damn close—and for a brief moment, they pulled it off.