Friday, May 02, 2014

Food Watch: Should we maybe look for a second opinion about these cat-shaped marshmallows?


by Ken

Maybe the simplest way to approach this is to ask, what do you think of when you look at the picture above?

One possible reaction:

"Oh goody, there's a pussycat-shaped thing floating on top of my whatever-the-hell-that-viscous-liquid-is-in-the-mug."

My first thought was that it was coffee, or maybe soup, but since the floating thing turns out to be a cat-shaped marshmallow, I certainly hope it's not coffee or soup. The only thing I can think of that might come in a mug which might lend itself to marshmallow inhabitation is cocoa. Sure, you could top off your cocoa with some of those tiny little marshmallows, or I suppose maybe one big marshmallow, but --

But, that brings us to --

Another possible reaction:

"Jeez, that's creepy! Why the hell is there something shaped like a cat floating on top of my damn cocoa?"

As you may recall, I take the website The Frisky as pretty much my bible when it comes to explaining men to women and explaining women to women and explaining, well, most everything else that's culture-related to women. (Sometimes they even undertake to try to explain women to men -- not so much because they have much doubt about the subject being self-explanatory as because they realize that men are so clueless, and yet somehow hold all the power when it comes to relations between men and women, which is why women are apparently in need of so much explaining).

Which brings us, more or less, to the cat-shaped marshmallows.

In a post called "Want: Cat-Shaped Marshmallows That Float To The Top Of Your Drink," Claire Hannum begins by asking, "How cute are CafeCats, a line of kitty-themed marshmallows?"

Claire goes on to say (links onsite):
How cute are CafeCats, a line of kitty-themed marshmallows? Made by Japanese confectioner Yawahada, the cats float to the top of your hot beverage to peek out as you sip. Yawahada also makes marshmallows that melt in your mug to reveal a little pink cat paw floating in your drink. Too cute! As of right now, the marshmallows are only available in Japan, though the company hopes to sell to international customers in the future. If you don’t live in Japan but plan to visit in the future, you can preorder the treats to be delivered when you’re in town. I feel these could make a great gift for those awkward social gatherings where you only sort of know the host -- everyone loves cute desserts!
Yes, Claire goes on to say all of this, but by this time I'm playing catch-up, because I'm still stuck on "How cute are CafeCats, a line of kitty-themed marshmallows?" Huh?

Let's say you have someone serving you breakfast, possibly one of those hosts "you only sort of know." Okay, so you sort of stumble and shuffle your way to the table, trying to think which of the great philosophers it was who said, "It's too damn early!" So you sit down, and the next thing you know you're having a mug shoved in your face, a mug that contains what appears to be heavily used machine or maybe motor oil with something that looks like a cat coming up to the surface for the last time. (Or possibly the machine or maybe motor oil is viscous enough to support flotation of the cat-looking thing for an extended time?) Let's pretend we're all cool with the idea that we're being served a mug of heavily used machine or maybe motor oil -- not that this doesn't raise legitimate questions, but we can investigate only so many puzzlements at a time.

Claire, I gather, would look at the floaty thing and say, "How cute is that?" I would say something more like, "Why the hell is there something that looks like a cat trapped in my heavily used machine or maybe motor oil?"

Thinking there might possibly be some illumination or clarification to be had there, I tried the supplied link for Yawahada, which is mostly in Japanese. Is this any help?

Hmm, not really, is it?


I looked back at the Frisky webpage for the cat-shaped marshmallows and noticed these comments:

These seem to represent the poles of thought about the cat-themed marshmallows. Let me just say, I hear ya, RoyalEagle0408.

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At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure looks cute floating there in the motor oil. I don't think it will look quite so cute once it gets covered in oil/miso/hot chocolate and starts melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

I must admit that Japanese culture baffles me. The juxtaposition of a society that invents the Tea Ceremony, Hill-and-Pond Gardens, sublime art and calligraphy with the popular culture of Hello Kitty, Japanese cosplayers and whale-murder (not to mention the business of killing any endangered species for its mythological limp-dick curing parts) is mind-boggling.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken, upon doing further research (actually, it's a serendipitous find), there is a national Cat Day in Japan. I came across this story, about a cat fan and confectioner in Japan who has fashioned cat cakes and other goodies from bean paste and glutinous rice:

You can also check out her blog (in Japanese) at

At least when you eat your cartoony cat, it won't be melting, it'll just be sandwiched between a couple of pancakes.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Well, my goodness! Uh, thanks, I guess.

I think I now know more than I wanted to about the gastronomic manifestations of Japanese cat culture. I think both that "Frisky" commenter and I are going to go with our independently-arrived-at gut reactions: creepy!



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