Lose the flavor, keep the chew.

Japanese confectioner Morinaga’s Hi-Chew candies have become an international hit and they owe a lot of that success to their wide variety of fruity flavors. In addition to mainstays like strawberry, apple, lemon, and grape, Morinaga regularly rotates in and out seasonal and regional flavors too, like banana, dragonfruit, and mango. This month, though, Morinaga is rolling out a new flavor of Hi-Chew, one that it’s never offered in the in the 49 years the soft candies have been on sale.

And that flavor is…no flavor at all.

Hi-Chew Sono Manma-aji, or “Hi-Chew Just As It Is Flavor,” was released on March 18. As the name implies, it’s a Hi-Chew with no additional flavor added to it, providing you with individually wrapped pieces of the snack (we’re not sure we can still call them “sweets” if they don’t taste sweet) in its purest base form.

So…why? Well, as alluded to in the brand name, Hi-Chew’s texture is meant to be a big part of its appeal. As a matter of fact, Hi-Chew was originally created as part of Morinaga’s attempts in the 1950s to create a type of chewing gum that could be swallowed, since the idea of taking something you’d been chewing on back out of your mouth was considered gross by Japanese society, which was still largely unaccustomed to the concept of Western-style gum.

Morinaga’s goal for the Just As It Is Flavor is to meet the demand for what it sees as candy products with a distinctive texture that’s stress-relieving to chew on. However, the company doesn’t appear to have altered the firmness, elasticity, or other textural properties of the Just As It Is Flavor compared to normal flavored Hi-Chews.

That might make the idea of flavorless Hi-Chews seem pointless. After all, if they’re the same aside from the taste, theoretically you should be able to chomp on a strawberry or lemon Hi-Chew for just as long as you can a flavorless one, right? However, the longer you chew a flavored Hi-Chew (or stick of gm or any other chewy confectionary), the weaker the flavor becomes. The flavor will start off intense, then become milder, and then eventually become so diluted that it’s unpleasant, with those last subtle vestiges of the original flavor teasing your taste buds and distracting your brain.. The Just As It Is Hi-Chew should avoid this unpalatable third stage since it’s flavor can’t weirdly watered-down if it has no flavor to start with.

It’s a bold move for a brand that’s become so strongly associated with fruity flavors, and even Morinaga itself is hedging its bet by currently only offering the Hi-Chew Just As It Is Flavor through Amazon here. They promise, though, that “the more you chew, the happier you’ll feel,” so hopefully if we can snag a pack we can compare it to that no-flavor gum we tried a while back.

Source: PR Times, Morinaga
Top image: PR Times
Insert images: Morinaga
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