We probably all have snacks that we are fond of, maybe even food combinations from our childhood that make our stomachs turn now. For me, that combo was always ketchup and mashed potatoes (a combo I ate when pretending to be sick and having to take medicine). Later, it was ridged potato chips inside a baloney sandwich (still sounds tasty now!)
However, Japan has commandeered the art of odd combos into a full-scale industry. Sweetened dry squid and pickled plums grace the shelves of every supermarket and convenience store.
And then there are those combos that are certainly only put out to see how much novelty the snack companies can get away with.
Here are five of the oddest snacks I’ve ever eaten in Japan.
Apple Pie Potato Chips
Hailing from Tohoku, the first snack item on our list claims to be a gourmet offering: apple pie flavored potato chips. Sadly, not as impressive as it might sound. Japan’s version of real apple pie is very different from its western equivalents (being more dough pudding than filling) and completely misses the critical mass of sweet spices. Therefore, the potato chips were predictably bland, with hints of apple rind under the far more flavorful spuds and salt.
Corn Soup Potato Chips
Japan has a love affair with all things corn potage. In fall and winter, the flavor is rather impossible to avoid, with vending machines selling corn soup in hot cans, and the only soup available at restaurants being the overly bland and bready corn mush. However, on potato chips it wasn’t half bad, if you don’t mind a starch bomb in your mouth.
Bake-able Cheesecake KitKats
KitKats are one of the more popular chocolate candies in the U.S., but its range of flavors in Japan is equally well-known. Not quite so well-known is a limited line of bake-able KitKats, which defy the logic of its convenience as a quick sugar rush treat. These KitKats did taste like cheesecake, but only if that cheesecake’s been dumped in a vat of sweet pudding coating. The baked versions came out flaky and crumbled on touch, and the taste was enough to require a full glass of milk to get rid of the sweet buttery aftertaste (and this is coming from someone who loves sweet things.)
Omelette Gummi Strips
I’m really not sure who thought this candy would be a good idea. While it is true that Tokyo omelettes have a sweet taste naturally (being cooked with soy sauce and sugar), the idea of trying to capture that slightly watery, warm taste in gummy form is a bit mind-boggling. The candy, however, tastes nothing like omelettes, I’m sorry to say. The smell is a bit like Mounds coconut candy, with a taste that is closer to a dessert soufflé than any kind of fried egg. At the very least, though, as compared with the snack I’ll mention next, it is palatable.
Salmon Flavored Chews
This is a bit of a troll candy. The character on the wrapping is a salmon fillet, and other candy bearing his likeness are usually grapefruit flavored. I bought it because the wrapper was charming, and my mouth now hates me forever. The candy, which cutely looks exactly like a cut of salmon in coloring, was also pretty spot on with its flavoring. Unfortunately, unlike sugared squid, salmon doesn’t take well to sweetening, and I could only eat the first candy I unwrapped. Unpleasant and uncalled for, Japan!
As a bonus, I’ll include one of the more odd drinks I’ve had in the last few years that I also managed to snap a picture of:
Pistachio Gelato Latte
To be fair, this drink doesn’t actually have any coffee in it. Basically anything with milk in it can be called latte or au lait in Japan, but this was a fun drink. It harkened me back to my childhood days of pistachio pudding in late summer, pleased to have a desert that no one else in my family liked, which is probably why it tasted so much better than it should have.
What are some of your favorite or weirdest combos you’ve had in your life? Would you try any of the ones I listed?