You have likely seen this candy before as there is a popular international candy chain called Sticky which produces similar candy. This type of candy actually originates from Japan, and it is known as Kintaro-ame.
Kintaro is a folk hero who is a child with incredible strength. Kintaro is translated as “Golden Boy” and it is supposedly the childhood name of the samurai Sakata Kintoki, who lived during the Heian Period. According to legends, he was so strong that as a child, he defeated a bear in sumo wrestling. During Boy’s Day on the 5th of May, a Kintaro Doll will be displayed in the hope that boys will be healthy, brave and strong.
There is a traditional Japanese candy featuring the boy’s face which is known as Kintaro-ame. It is believed to have originated during the Edo Period in which the original designs were Okame and Fukusuke. In the Meiji Period, a Tokyo candy maker made the candy in Kintaro motif. Nowadays, the candy is still being produced but there are many contemporary motifs used such as famous cartoon characters, fancy words, and varieties of flowers and fruits.
The candy will be made into a cylindrical shape and then sliced into many pieces. As the surface of each slice of candy will be in the same pattern, the phrase “Kintaro-ame-like” has been used to mean things that are identical. Sometimes, the phrase does not have a positive connotation as it can be used to mean a person who is the same as everyone else and has no unique attributes.
The process of making the candy involves using different colors of melted sugar and kneading them at 60 to 70 degrees Celcius. The different layers of colored candy will be stacked on to produce patterns. One needs to have a good imagination to know how to make a new pattern from scratch! You can watch a video on the process of making the candy here.
The process of making Kintaro-ame always attracts a crowd. The candy may taste like regular candy, but it is the beautiful work of handmade art that makes it stand out!