Thursday, 29 September 2016

Halloween in Japan ; Spooky.....Bacon?!

Every year at this time all the restaurants in Tokyo scramble to make a spine-tingling menu. From the 25th of September, McDonalds in Japan released its spooky, spectacular and special set of Halloween fries! Cue eerie music, bone clattering and spiders descending from the ceiling.
Five or more years ago Halloween was almost non-existent in Japan, however due to the massive influx and popularity of American culture, you can expect some Tokyoites to start decorating their houses from late September. I am already seeing houses decorated with pumpkins, black cats, witches and spider webs and October hasn't even started. This is unusual considering the average Japanese person doesn't know the roots of Halloween or any of the symbolism, but Halloween does contain cosplay, themed foods and parties and that is enough to get them interested.
"What exactly are Halloween fries!?" I hear you cry. Pumpkin cream and chocolate sauce, of course!
Japan actually released chocolate fries earlier this year and they were a huge success, no-one actually liked the flavor or ate them all, but they were fun to dare your friends to eat or throw at each other. In Japanese however they're known as "Halloween choco potato!" as fries in Japanese is literally "potato". I always have a cheeky giggle at this whenever I am ordering at "MakkuDo" in Japan, but none of my Japanese friends see the humor.

The first thing you notice when you receive your "Halloween Choco Potato" is how cute the packaging is; an orange pumpkin amidst a purple sky with the little silhouette of an Anime-esque witch that would not look out of place in "Little witch Academia". I'm such a sucker for cute Mahou Shoujo. The box is filled with plain fries, with the sauce given separately in a twin pack. This part is actually quite fun as you squeeze the pack together and the sauce comes out in a jet of orange and brown, not dissimilar-looking to tooth paste.
One thing you will notice in Japan is that people do not usually eat fries with their hands; in an Izakaya *Japanese style bar* you will be given chop sticks, in this case I was given a fork. I actually didn't notice it and wolfed them down with my fingers, like the animal that I am.

The verdict?

Presentation - 9/10 You have to admit its a little cute.
Practicality - 9/10 - They were compact and came with a fork, even the sauce packaging was well designed.
Taste - 3/10 - Unless you are the kind of person who dips their fries into their McFlurry, you heathen, you probably wont enjoy chocolate flavored fries. The orange sauce actually did taste like pumpkin, but in the form of a super sweet cake icing,

I actually didn't finish them all, but the experience was worth it!

 After "Halloween Choco Potato" my interest was piqued to find other useless Halloween foods and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

 My personal favorite is - Halloween bacon!
I had to stare at this in the Supermarket for a while in confusion, before realizing how I ever went a single Halloween without Halloween bacon. I mean...It isn't actually different from regular bacon apart from they made the packing creepy cute but at least they included a recipe for Halloween soup!
My Japanese co-workers found nothing strange about this; I asked them "What is spooky about bacon" to which one replied "Well, it's dead isn't it". You got me there.

Next up is - Halloween Pizza! 
They could have at least made a Pumpkin face with peppers and salami, but actually, it's just a regular Margarita pizza. Bonus points for the Zombie lettuce on the packaging though! I'll be having nightmares about that for weeks.

If you don't have goosebumps yet, here's something to really raise the hairs on your neck -Halloween Lemonade! Minimum effort was done in terms of packaging but it was actually delicious. French Lemonade with a hint of honey, although it was quite sour, it felt like being punched in the face by a lemon. In a good way.

I must apologize for making a Japanese Halloween seem mundane; if you are looking for a party, the street party in Shibuya on Halloween night is voted the best in the world with thousands of people cosplaying, street drinking and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Almost every cafe and restaurant in Tokyo will have special Halloween themed menus and of course, Japanese Halloween themed snacks are incredible. You can find many pumpkin flavored items as well as Halloween versions of old classics like Pocky, Koalas March and you can bet there will be special KitKats just for Halloween. In fact, there is a Kitkat cafe open right now in Omotesando!

 I hope everyone has a great run up to Halloween, I am starting to sort out my cosplay now as well as book tickets for Halloween parties here. Please sit down with your family on Halloween night for a nice traditional Halloween bacon pizza and lemonade! Stay spooky!

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