Hokkaido Graffiti Candy - “Japan’s best Kibidango” (Millet Dumplings)
If you mention "Kibidango" outside of Hokkaido, a candy from Okayama with a 150 year history is the first thing people think of. The Okayama Kibidango is a small round candy made from a powder mix of millet flour (a kind of rice) and a specific rice flour used to make mochi (pounded rice). For those in Hokkaido however, "Kibidango" brings to mind the image of a brown rectangular mochi treat.
The Hokkaido version, "Japan's Best Kibidango," was first created by the Tanida confectionary which is located in the town of Kuriyama, in southern Sorachi. Tanida Confectionary began selling the treat in 1937.
The Tanida confectionery factory was built in the 1940s, near the JR Kuriyama Station. The building has all brick walls, and is constructed in a classical style which attracts the eye of any passerby. Visitors to the plant are treated with a perfect view of the whole production process.
To make this treat, first Hokkaido grown Hakuchou Rice is blended to the correct levels for making mochi, then steamed and shaped. At the same time, "Tiger" beans from Kitami are mixed with starch syrup to produce raw bean paste. This paste is then mixed with the prepared mochi, sugar, and malt syrup. This is mixed thoroughly while being heated by steam vapor until it settles into a thick doughy texture.
Then comes the most delicate part. The doughy mixture is carefully kneaded for four hours until the perfect mix and texture are obtained. With that, the kibidango is complete! Its subtle sweetness and savory flavor provides a timeless taste. Not only does it taste good, but its long lasting shelf life makes it the perfect emergency ration for the Army and Navy, and a delicious snack for busy farmers with no time for a meal.
During the height of production "Japan's Best Kibidango" was being produced by three separate companies, including Tanida confectionery, and was enjoyed as far away as Nagoya! This meant the candy became a widely recognized favorite and is still loved to this day.
Be sure to go out and try it for yourself!
◇ Tanida Confectionery Co., Ltd.
Nishiki 3-134, Kuriyama-cho, Yubari-gun
★ Single Bar (70g) - 126 Yen
★ Bite-size Bag (230g) - 441 Yen
＊For more detailed information check out the book “Confectionery Graffiti in Hokkaido” by Toshinobu Tsukada.
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Tetsu)