Hi-Chew Flavors, Ranked Worst To Best

If you're a fan of Starburst or other fruit-infused taffy-like candies, we hope you're familiar with Hi-Chew. As the name suggests, these indulgent little morsels are soft and gently chewable. They also offer a high concentration and immediate surge of flavor. The name is also a bit misleading in that you can't expect to be chewing on a Hi-Chew for a lengthy degree of time as you would with a stick of gum. You'll get maybe 15 to 30 seconds of pleasure out of each piece.

Over the years, Morinaga, the Japanese-based makers of Hi-Chew, have delivered over 170 variations of their signature candy, with certain varieties only available in particular regions (via Hi-Chew). The more popular varieties come in "stick" form, which is a package of just one flavor and that flavor only. That way, you're not burdened with an assortment of flavors that don't hit the sweet spot for you. (Anyone who buys Starburst just for the strawberry pieces, tolerates orange and cherry, and finds themselves throwing away the lemon will jump at this concept.)

They also come in mixed packs that run the gamut, which include their long-standing iconic flavors to exotic "super fruits" and yogurt-blended options. Not just limiting its inspiration to natural products, Hi-Chew also has cola and Ramune flavors. The brand offers a little something for everyone, though not every Hi-Chew flavor rises to the occasion. That's why we've highlighted some popular flavors that are available in the American market and ranked them.

21. Kiwi

Introduced in 2017, the kiwi-flavored Hi-Chew is a relatively new addition to the brand's lineup. It's available solo in a stick package and as part of the Tropical Mix bag and Superfruit Mix bag. Visually, the flavor stands out from the rest since it is dotted with tiny black specks to help emulate the actual look of the fruit. According to Hi-Chew, those aren't mere food coloring — they're chia seeds, the superfood which is jam-packed with protein, calcium, and iron. There are a scant few chia seeds scattered throughout the mint-green outer layer of each kiwi piece (the interior is white), and whether there are enough to provide any substantive health benefits is rather unlikely.

While texture-wise you detect a slight grit between your molars when you chew the candy, the unorthodox candy addition doesn't offer much in the way of flavor, which is a shame since the Kiwi Hi-Chew can use all the help it can get. This doesn't taste like the fruit at all, lacking those distinctive notes of pineapple and berries. It tastes more like a watered-down version of a Green Apple Hi-Chew (which we'll get into later on) than an actual kiwi fruit. A somewhat bitter aftertaste helps seal the deal for this disappointing candy at the absolute bottom spot on our list.

20. Black Cherry

If you have ever had a compulsion to unwrap a few or more Luden's Wild Cherry Throat Drops when you weren't even feeling sick, then you will absolutely love the Black Cherry Hi-Chew. The flavor here is medicinal with a capital M, only without the benefit of easing your sore throat or chronic cough. But maybe it's still worth a try.

On the plus side, there are faint notes of decadent Luxardo cherries (as opposed to the more common maraschino cherry), soaked in syrup and coated in booze after you've downed an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. We guess that would make it medicinal in a very different way.

But for the most part, this truly doesn't taste remotely like any cherry one might find in nature. We also found it strange that this flavor is available in the Berry Mix despite the fact that cherries aren't technically berries. We prefer our cherries on top, but sadly, when it comes to Hi-Chew flavors, this belongs on the bottom.

19. Cola Soda

We're not exactly sure which cola Hi-Chew was using as a reference point when they devised this strain of their popular candy that is available in the Soda Pop mix bag. "Give your taste buds a fun and fizzy experience with the outrageous real soda flavor of Cola Soda," Hi-Chew promises. But the candy isn't fizzy, and it barely tastes like Coke, Pepsi, or the myriad generic knockoffs of those soda titans. Particularly tangy with some herbaceous notes, Hi-Chew Cola tastes a lot more like ginger ale by way of root beer than caramel-y cola. We love both ginger ale and root beer as much as the next person, but we would prefer that Hi-Chew calls it like it is.

Another reason we downgraded this selection is that, unlike other Hi-Chew flavors, particularly the fruity ones, Cola doesn't offer a full sensory experience. It's odorless, for starters. Other versions of Hi-Chew announce themselves with a delightfully fragrant scent. If you're craving a cola candy that truly pops, stick with the Haribo bottle-shaped Happy Cola gummies.

18. Pineapple

Here is another flavor that offers a favorable initial impression that goes downhill once you actually eat it. Pineapple is found in the Tropical Mix bag along with the kiwi, offering a one-two punch of disappointment. First, the good news: This candy smells amazing. Open up that wrapper, take a whiff, and let tropical aroma settle into your nose holes. If this were a candle, we'd light these up all the time, but in its current candy form, it lacks that spark.

Unlike the situation with kiwi, the actual essence of pineapple is detectable in the candy, though it is competing with a distinctive presence of banana. However you want to describe the flavor, it simply underwhelms in the intensity department — it dances around your tongue and you're waiting for it to make its moment, but it's ultimately too skittish to reveal its full potential. In case it wasn't evident, we didn't exactly pine for this one. 

17. Strawberry

While the pineapple and kiwi Hi-Chew flavors made great first impressions, strawberry kind of made us squeamish when it came to the looks department. The white exterior and pink interior combo reminded us of an uncooked porchetta, and as much as we enjoy the delicious Italian pork preparation, connecting with a candy (particularly when the meat is in its raw state), is a bit off-putting. (On a side note: Wouldn't the color scheme of pink on the outside and white on the inside make more sense?)

Of course, if the candy tasted great, all would be redeemed, but sadly, that is not the case. This lacked the juiciness of a ripe strawberry that we were hoping for. Hi-Chew claims that this candy is "bursting with flavor," but notice that the company doesn't specify exactly what flavor that is. The strawberry is detectable, but notes of bubble gum and cotton candy are even more prominent. Strawberry is available solo and in the Original Mix bag, which is worth picking up considering the two other flavors (which we'll cover below) that are also part of the package.

16. Blueberry Yogurt

If you're a fan of yogurt-covered raisins, this might be in your flavor wheelhouse. While a yogurt candy may seem strange, this flavor reminds us of sherbet or a creamsicle because it's not forward in its tartness, and it's mellowed by a dash of dairy influence. It's an interesting flavor to be sure, and this version of Hi-Chew isn't necessarily one we would avoid in the future. The general category of berry comes to mind, but we're not sure we would be able to identify this specifically as blueberry in a blind taste test.

With a white exterior and an indigo interior, we figured there would be a balance of fruit and yogurt, but yogurt dominates the flavor profile, and the overall taste is muddled. If this was closer to an even split, it would be higher in our rankings, but as is, we have to rank this one toward the bottom of the pack.

15. Blueberry

Okay, so maybe we wanted more blueberry flavor in our Blueberry Yogurt Hi-Chew. Well, after trying the blueberry on its own, we have to admit that it's only slightly better than the alternative. The flavor in this one is exceptionally strong and has a pleasant juicy and jammy finish, but as far as its promised flavor, it doesn't quite hit the mark, despite Hi-Chew's claim that "it's close to the real thing."

Now, to be fair, the sweet and tart notes of an actual fresh blueberry are difficult to replicate, and we can't recall any candy that actually nails that real fruit flavor. But since Hi-Chew's attempt is pretty far off the mark, perhaps it wasn't the best idea to go forward with a blueberry flavor, let alone two of them. We were a big blueberry explosion, like Violet Beauregarde in the Juicing Room, but this Hi-Chew left feeling a bit Veruca Salt-y.  

14. Raspberry

Similar to the blueberry Hi-Chew, raspberry suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. You get that berry flavor for sure, but specifically what type of berry that is may be up for debate. We detect more strawberry than raspberry with even some hints of cherry (which we reiterate, is not a berry) thrown into the mix. And it should be noted that this flavor is more enjoyable than both the strawberry and the cherry.

Perhaps with a name change, this flavor would have been further up the rankings. A "mixed berry" or "fruit punch" distinction would have been more appropriate. But if Hi-Chew wants to deem this as a raspberry-flavored candy, then we have to rank it as such. Considering the disappointing taste of the black cherry, blueberry, and raspberry trifecta, the Berry Mix Bag is the biggest miss in the Hi-Chew collection. Even a supremely tart gooseberry flavor would have been preferable.

13. Lemon

Whether it's used in cocktails, for baking, or to add some extra zing to your seafood, lemons are a vital weapon in anyone's culinary arsenal. Not to mention, they're ideal for combating scurvy in case any pirates are reading this on the open seas. While the mouth-puckering citrus plays well with others, it's not exactly beloved when taking the solo spotlight. While it may be a staple of all sorts of fruity candies, it's no surprise that it tends to be toward the bottom of the pack of preferred flavors.

That said, the lemon Hi-Chew flavor is perfectly fine. No surprise, the white-and-yellow candy (think a sunny-side up egg) is found in the Sweet & Sour Mix, and it is noticeably tangier than the other non-sour flavors. If you've ever tried a lemon Starburst, the taste will be familiar but slightly tangier with a more buttery finish, replacing the vanilla notes of its competitor. If you enjoy desserts that feature lemon curd, this will be up your flavor alley.

12. Grape

Like lemon, grape is another one of those familiar flavors that never tends to be the first pick of the candy draft. We revere those juicy orbs for wine and as our top flavor choice for jelly (particularly when paired with peanut butter and white bread), and now that we think of it, a combo version would be brilliant. (If Hi-Chew is doing yogurt hybrids, why not try a peanut butter fusion with grape, raspberry, and strawberry?)

On its own, however, grape, which is available in a stick package and as part of the Original Mix Bag, might be a little too intense. That undeniably grape-iness brought us back to fond memories of sipping Welch's Grape Soda but also to grape-flavored Dimetapp, which wasn't exactly a highlight of our youth (what is it with Hi-Chew and medicinal flavor notes?). Food of the gods this is most certainly not, but it's a perfectly fine flavor.

11. Watermelon

Before we get into how it tastes, let's discuss the visuals when it comes to Hi-Chew's watermelon offering. Rather than follow the path of Jelly Belly, which mimics the familiar coloration of the fruit by having a green exterior and a pink interior, Hi-Chew curiously opted for more of a candy cane vibe. It's pink on the outside and white on the inside, which is especially odd since Japan is famously ravenous for melons of all varieties. One would think that as a Japanese candy maker, Morinaga would surely know what a watermelon looks like and aim to recreate the fruit on all fronts. After all, if they could do it with kiwi, why not watermelon?

But if you close your eyes, there's no mistaking the intention. A burst of watermelon-y perfume hits your nose before you can even pop the treat into your mouth. Is it our favorite flavor of Hi-Chew? Not particularly. Though it is part of the Hi-Chew Sweet & Sour Mix, it hits upon the former far more than the latter. Actual watermelon is sweet enough on its own, and we would argue that watermelon candy is putting a hat on a hat.

10. Ramune

This entry covers the other half of Hi-Chew's Soda Pop Mix (accompanied by cola soda). Not particularly common to find in the U.S. unless you happen to have an Asian supermarket in your vicinity, Ramune (or at least its original formula — it has many varieties) is a citrusy soda. It originated in Japan in 1884, per Kotaku, and has a unique flavor reminiscent of sparkling lemonade spiked with a ton of syrup, with maybe a hint of ginger. It also comes in a very distinct bottle, and if you've ever cracked one open, you likely haven't forgotten it. Rather than having a bottle cap, a marble is pushed through the top to release the carbonation and open the mouth, and as you drink, the marble rattles around in an enclosed chamber.

While Hi-Chew's take on Ramune does replicate the tangy soft drink rather well (and decidedly more so than the cola soda rendition), we'd rather pop the marble on a real deal bottle of the stuff and have some ice-cold liquid refreshment.

9. Dragon Fruit

Much like its real-life inspiration, Dragon Fruit Hi-Chew has a rosy magenta exterior and a white interior. It even sports some of its signature black seeds (like its fellow representatives of the Superfruit Mix Bag, it is made with chia seeds). All that's missing are those green spikes you'd commonly find on a dragon fruit.

While actual dragon fruit notoriously looks and sounds better than it tastes and lacking an assertive flavor (especially when it's not quite ripe enough), the folks at Hi-Chew took careful note of its essence and kicked it up quite a few notches. Tasting a bit like pear, stone fruit, and kiwi, this treat is dragon fruit in its most concentrated form, and we're here for it.

You may not be able to find actual dragon fruit in most of the U.S, but you can find this candy in Hi-Chew's Tropical Mix Stand Up Pouch along with the Superfruit Mix Bag.

8. Açaí

Here is another rare exception where the Hi-Chew variety's coloration is turned inside out. Its açaí flavor has a dark magenta coating with a snow white middle (which isn't exactly similar to the actual fruit, which has more of a pale greenish-white grape interior with plenty of black seeds to boot).

If you're not familiar with the flavor of açaí, it's a bit similar to blueberries or blackberries with a tart skin but a sweet finish. That's true here, too. There's almost a Sour Patch Kids quality of having to grit through a millisecond of mouth-puckering sourness before you get to the sweetness.

You can try the açaí flavor by purchasing the Superfruit Mix pack, which includes the very appealing dragon fruit flavor and the much-less appealing kiwi flavor (and like its two neighbors, this one has chia seeds too). It also comes in a stick if you want to enjoy it on its own. And obviously, even though the real deal açaí is billed as a superfruit, the only benefits you'll get from the Hi-Chew version will be a teensy and temporary sugar high.

7. Strawberry Yogurt

It's hard to deny the appeal of this Hi-Chew delight, arguably the most aromatic of all the varieties we tried. As soon as you open the package, an enticing bouquet of cotton candy-like perfume hits your nose.

As for its flavor, strawberry yogurt Hi-Chew tastes nearly identical to an indulgent strawberry milkshake that you might get from your favorite guilty pleasure fast food spot. The strawberry flavor is clear and present, and the yogurt addition adds a decadent creaminess. All that's missing is a straw and brain freeze. And with each of these bite-sized morsels clocking in at around 20 calories, you can get your fix and not feel too bad about it. Just don't eat a dozen of them, and your waistline will thank you.

This is without a doubt the best option in the Yogurt Mix Bag. Unlike the blueberry yogurt, it hits the right balance of fruit and cream, the latter of which definitely helps elevate the fruit, which, as we mentioned earlier, falls flat on its own. If you've gotten hooked on those addictive strawberry yogurt pretzels at Costco, you need to try this candy.

6. Plain Yogurt

If we're being honest, this doesn't taste very much like yogurt at all, but that's probably for the best. The flavor is more reminiscent of sweetened condensed milk, a dessert ingredient that you might sneak a taste of when you're baking, but "sweetened condensed milk" doesn't roll off the tongue or fit on the packaging quite as nicely as "plain yogurt."

If a yogurt-forward candy doesn't sound appealing, don't be deterred. We're ranking this toward the top for a reason. Although it really doesn't taste like yogurt, it does have a very light tanginess that adds a nice balance to the sugar content. We also detected slight notes of vanilla in the finish of the chew.

This is exclusively part of the Yogurt Mix pack along with strawberry yogurt and blueberry yogurt variants. Although the latter two may sound more exciting, our vote for the best of the bunch is the plain Jane version.

5. Piña Colada

Who doesn't like piña coladas? The blend of pineapple and coconut (and white rum, if you're not a teetotaler) is irresistible. So, if you don't have those ingredients or a sturdy blender, seek out some piña colada Hi-Chews.

The flavors are there to a tee, though perhaps a tad creamier than the boozier, icier, slushier version of the classic frozen cocktail. It's also very coconut-forward, with the pineapple showing up as second fiddle, so if coconut isn't your favorite, you might want to skip this one.

This flavor only appears in the relatively rare Fruit Combos pack (along with one of our top picks, the tropical smoothie flavor). You likely can't find it on its own in stick form, at least not Stateside. So, if you have a hankering for this chewy candy mocktail, you'll probably have to hunt it down or order it online.

4. Green Apple

We knew the green apple Hi-Chew was a winner right away, as the candy exhibits an intense "orchard in your mouth" sensation upon first bite. Though it doesn't quite nail the supreme tartness of a Granny Smith apple, we think a reason it works so well is that the inspiration for the treat isn't intrinsically sweet. The vast majority of the Hi-Chew line-up consists of riffs on already-saccharine subject matter, and sometimes, it's better to add a spoonful of sugar to what's tart. We wish there had been just a bit more of a puckering quality to the candy, but that's the only knock we have.

Apparently, Morinaga knew they had a winner on their hands because this is one of the most common and abundant Hi-Chew flavors Stateside. It appears in the Original Mix bag along with mango, grape, and strawberry, but if all you crave is green apple, you can also buy a stick of just that.

3. Mango

This Hi-Chew is an instant shock (in the best way) to the senses, and it's another one that smells amazing as soon as you split open the package. It just barely missed the top slot, but it should be proud to take the bronze. Like so many of its brethren, its pale white color is deceptive because there is a ton of flavor packed into these small packets of deliciousness. It coats the mouth well and pleasantly lingers long after you've finished the candy.

As a bonus, whether by intention or not, this tropical candy doesn't exclusively feature mango. It also has subtle notes of coconut and vanilla. There's a depth of flavor that reminds us of a mango colada (we're getting thirsty!). We're also happy to report that if you've had mango in the Tropical Mix pack and found it to be your far and away favorite, you can also find it in stick form by itself.

2. Pink Grapefruit

Featuring a white interior and a cotton candy pink outer layer, the pink grapefruit Hi-Chew is a true candy success. Everything just goes right with this one. For starters, the flavor is undeniably pink grapefruit, and the juiciness of the fruit is perceptible throughout the entire chewing experience. Unlike its Sweet & Sour Mix cohorts, this follows through on both promises. In particular, the sourness shines through without causing a pucker-up reaction. (If you're familiar with Sour Patch Kids, this doesn't quite hit that citric acid high — think of it as the junior version of that iconic candy when it come to that tang.)  

That balance carries over to the polarizing bitter notes of grapefruit. Somehow, Hi-Chew was able to highlight the bitterness of the fruit without overwhelming your taste buds. Just like Jamaican Ting, one of our favorite sodas of all time, this successfully captures grapefruit's best qualities in a delightfully sweet (and slightly sour) package.

1. Tropical Smoothie

With a name as vague as tropical smoothie, you may wonder what fruits are in the mix here. Hi-Chew is aiming for a blend of mango and passion fruit, and they do deliver, especially on the mango front. The mango flavor comes through immediately, while the complementary note of passion fruit was more of a question mark until we checked the package.

Bottom line, why spend a fortune on made-to-order Jamba Juice smoothies or store bought Naked Juice (other than the nutritional benefits, but who needs those?) when you can get the delightful flavors  of a tropical island in a Tootsie Roll-sized bite for a fraction of the cost?

You won't find this flavor in stick form, but you can find it alongside piña colada in Hi-Chew's Fruit Combo stand-up bag. It's not a particularly common pack to find in stores, but you can always order it through Amazon if you're craving a candy-laced trip to the tropics.