27 August 2011

Japan in Germany 3: Nippon Puffed Rice Chocolate Squares

Nippon puffed rice chocolate squares are common sight on the chocolate shelves of German grocery stores and kiosks. Made by the Hosta company in Stimpfach, Schwäbisch Hall, the squares appear to simply be puffed rice covered in chocolate, but the ingredients actually include other grains or grain derivatives.

The squares come in a variety of sizes and occasionally can be found in dark bitter and white chocolate varieties. The official website for Nippon squares does not give any history as to why the product was called “Nippon”.  Perhaps the logic was that the product  contains rice and rice is a staple food in Japan.  It is possible that the snack was inspired by Tochoco’s Rice Chocolate bar. It is featured on the Showa Navi because the product was launched in 1953 – Showa 28 on the Japanese calendar. The Tochoco puffed rice chocolate bar contains a lot more chocolate than the German Nippon square.  Read a product review of the Tochocho Rice Chocolate at Japanese Snack Reviews to learn more.

Although I have not yet tried it the German company Wawi apparently has a competing line of chocolate rice squares which they claim won the award for Best Brand of Puffed-Rice Chocolate in Germany in the Lebensmittel Zeitung (a grocery consumer publication) in March. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it next time I’m at the supermarket. Other similar products include the Australian company Sunrice’s Tumbles.

My children really like Nippon, but they are not really to my taste. I prefer dark chocolate and I had the impression when taste-testing them that they contain quite a lot of vegetable oil and fatty cacao butter as it left my mouth feeling quite greasy afterwards. I recommend taste-testing them with a strong coffee to counteract this.  While looking in vain for historical information about the Nippon squares, I discovered an intriguing recipe using them as the base of a cake.

You can find the rest of the recipe for Nippon Chocolate Cake with Yogurt Cream & Strawberries at lecher.de.  I have worked the cake table at Kindergarten events before and the cakes heavy with cream are always a big hit here in Germany.  I will have to give this one a try the next time we have guests.

This blog post is part of a new series called Japan in Germany.  

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2011