Botan Rice Candy

There’s a communal dimension
to the candy that you eat as a kid.

Take for example, Nerds, which debuted when I was in grade school and quickly achieved a popular currency among my classmates. Every kid in school coveted them, and to get your hands on a package was to participate in what felt like a genuine phenomenon. Like buying a top 40 record on its way up the charts.

Being Asian and growing up with few other Asians as friends, however, there was very little street cred to be found in Botan Rice Candy, which my parents would treat me to when we visited the local Vietnamese grocery store. It came in a bizarre, watermelon–colored package, decorated with obscure, baroque Japanese imagery that might have resonated with kids in Tokyo but was a mystery to me entirely.

Still, I adored its wonderfully simple, colorless sweetness and, most of all, delighted in how its rice paper wrapping was designed to literally dissolve in my mouth. I’d let the entire piece of candy sit on my tongue until my saliva liquefied the rice paper into nothingness—possibly my first introduction to culinary magic—before the sugary core would finally hit my taste buds. The rice paper itself was more or less flavorless, but that made it even better—a secret message passed along in the preferred medium of children: nutrition–free sweets. I never tried to share my Botan Rice Candy with kids at school; sometimes as a kid it’s nice to have a secret.


Candygrams are odes to candy by guest authors during the month of October.

Khoi Vinh

Khoi Vinh is the design director for, and the author of He was born in Viet Nam and came to the United States when he was three.


Commenting is not available in this section entry.

On the Subject of Me

Jason Santa Maria is a graphic designer living and working in sunny Brooklyn, NY. More »

Recent Projects

  • They Might Be Giants
  • Typekit
All Projects »

A Book Apart

Responsive Web Design, by Ethan Marcotte. From A Book Apart.
“Insightful, witty and practical, Responsive Web Design points us in the direction of a new web.”
—Mark Boulton
Order »

Daily Photography

Gold Medal

With Support From

Recommended Reading

Logo & Font Lettering Bible coverLogo & Font Lettering Bible
by Leslie Cabarga
All Books »

Search The Site

Oddities & Diversions

Design Is History

Design Is History, created as a teaching tool for young designers just beginning to explore graphic design and as a reference tool for all designers. Chock full of great info.

Education at FontShop

Education at FontShop, a great resource for tips, tricks, and type knowledge.

A List Apart: Issue 311

A List Apart: Issue 311, Start web design projects the right way. Learn when and how to say no. Articles by Whitney Hess and Kevin M. Hoffman.

Past Oddities & Diversions »

Happy Cog Hosting Powered by
Happy Cog Hosting