Japanese snack foods range from the delicious to the downright strange. From chocolate covered squid to potato flavored Kit Kat, the last year has seen quite a few strange food experiments. There is a high turnover rate for many of these unique flavors, so you they may not be available on your next trip to Japan, but here are, in no particular order, 10 weird and wacky snack foods to look out for:
10. Soy sauce, grilled corn, and other unique Kit Kats.
It feels almost sacrilegious to create a list of unique Japanese snacks without discussing Kit Kat, as they routinely churn out savory and peculiar flavored chocolates that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It’s difficult to imagine chocolate flavored like soy sauce or corn; after all, these flavors are very savory, in contrast to the sweet taste of the chocolate. These are definitely unorthodox flavors, however, they seem to be very popular, and Japanese consumers continue purchasing the bizarre flavors, so they must be a hit.
9. Chocolate covered squid:
To add to the list of simultaneously sweet and savory treats, we have chocolate covered squid. According to the internet, chocolate covered bacon is a fairly common “North American” dish (How did I miss this becoming “popular”? Now it’s a North American dish? I’ve never had any, and now I feel un-American), so I like to think that this is the Japanese equivalent, a chocolate covered meat unique to Japan. Imagine a chocolate pretzel with heavy fishy overtones, and just assume that that’s the basic flavor of chocolate covered squid. Sounds fishy and delicious!
8. Takoyaki flavored caramel
Yet another savory candy, takoyaki favored caramels! I tried these the other day, therefore, I deem myself a quasi-authority on this topic. They do not, in my opinion, taste like takoyaki. I was expecting a heavy octopus flavor, but I couldn’t detect any at all. Their taste is somewhat difficult to grasp; somehow sweet, smoky, and spicy at the same time. The cacophony of flavors is truly an experience, but diehard fans might be disappointed that the candy doesn’t really recreate the experience of enjoying takoyaki. Try some if you like-but don’t expect it to give you a 懐かしい(natsukashii) feeling with regard to your favorite festival food.
7. Cucumber Pepsi
After all that savory candy, one might need a beverage. Why settle for normal Pepsi when you can have Ice Cucumber? Japan’s Pepsi company released Ice Cucumber Pepsi during the summer of 2011 as a summer beverage meant to assist people in cooling down, and they chose cucumber as their flavor, hoping it would help people to feel refreshed and calm.
….According to every review I’ve read, you should definitely settle for the normal Pepsi. The Ice Cucumber hasn’t been a huge hit, so it might be wise to try another flavor. Perhaps you can try…
6. Salty Watermelon
I have a hard time imagining what salty beverages taste like*, but this one looks pretty delicious. Watermelon is a summertime food in Japan, and it isn’t uncommon for people to sprinkle on some salt to enhance the sweet flavor, so, for most people, this kind of soda likely elicits memories of a cold snack on a hot summer day (get your 懐かしい feelings here instead of from the takoyaki caramel). All of that sounds very refreshing, however, reviews say the salt taste is pretty pronounced, and the color looks less than appetizing, so it may not be your best choice as far as invigorating summer sodas go.
5. Rilakkuma shaped tofu:
This is less unorthodox, more adorable. These small blocks of tofu are shaped like the faces of Rilakkuma and friends! The face becomes more pronounced when the tofu is doused with sauce, and the creators suggest using it to entice picky eaters, or to encourage oneself to eat more healthily by utilizing the power of cute. Eating healthily has never been more adorable!
4. Mountain Dew flavored Cheetos:
In a crazy twist, along with savory candy, Japan has released sweet, Mountain Dew flavored chips! It seems Japan enjoys turning preconceived food notions on their heads. I completely approve.
These have been circulating around the web recently , and people tend to gravitate to one of two positions: extremely psyched, or completely disgusted. The Cheeto-like chips actually fizz, much like Pop Rocks, while eaten, and have a flavor almost identical to that of the soda, so if you like Mountain Dew, these are a wise decision. If you expect them to taste anything like the original Cheetos, however, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.
3. Taiyaki milk:
There is a surprising dearth of information about this product on the internet, however, I love taiyaki, and milk is my favorite thing ever, so I am completely intrigued by the idea of a taiyaki-flavored milky beverage. It certainly has an anko-like flavor, so if one likes anko, this drink seems like a wise decision.
2. Bear Curry
Yes, this is apparently a thing. This curry includes chunks of bear meat from the Hokkaido area, and it sounds like something from Ron Swanson’s dreams. Curries like this are generally purchased as souvenirs to bring to friends after one has traveled in the Hokkaido area, and aren’t a staple in anyone’s diet. However, if you enjoy curry, this might be an interesting twist, and it probably tastes like the wilderness, so I don’t know how you can say no to that.
1.Mayo Cheese Pringles
Japan constantly produces cool and unique Pringles flavors, and the myriad choices include Mayo Cheese. Mayonnaise is fairly popular in Japan, and will pop up anywhere from on pizza to alongside friend chicken, so it’s not surprising to see a chip flavored with it. These chips sound creamy and rich, so anyone who enjoys cheese-themed snack food will probably enjoy them.
Japan boasts some of the most unique snack food in the world, and these are just ten potential snack food options. Do you have a favorite (unorthodox) Japanese snack food?
(BONUS QUESTION: What’s up with salty drinks?) *I have trouble even imagining a salty beverage. I feel like the main purpose of beverages is to relieve one’s thirst. Wouldn’t a salty drink make one thirstier? Do you have to buy a drink to wash your drink down with? That just seems excessive. Someone explain it to me, please.