Adventures in Japanese Snacking

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

Crazy Snacks from Japan

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

IMG_4419-625

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 thatΒ 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

Tamagoyaki Candy

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 soufflΓ© 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 GelatoΒ Latte

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?

58 thoughts on “Adventures in Japanese Snacking

  1. Karen says:

    As a vegetarian, some bizarre snacks gladly do not apply for me. Bizarre vegetarian food is something to try. The Bake-able Cheesecake KitKats may we worth a try (together with a nice strong coffee); the Pistachio Gelato Latte also appeals. I always try to get hold of pistachio pudding as well – hooray to (yummy) childhood memories. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      I think you’d like Kyoto jelly candies. They don’t use gelatin, so they’re actually vegetarian! πŸ™‚ And they are very tasty.

      KitKats with coffee is a very good idea in this case! The bitter would settle the sweet down a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. shoreacres says:

    Hey! A little respect for Smarties! Likewise rootbeer barrels and Necco wafers! I grew up in the days of the penny candy counter at the gas station, where for a nickel you could really enjoy yourself (have you ever had Lik-M-Aid?) But I have to confess, none of these combos sound very good. I’m one who likes my salmon to be salmon, and my sweets to be basic. I’m not even very good with standard combos, like onion and sour cream potato chips.

    Still, this is pretty interesting. I did go through a dried shrimp phase while living in San Francisco, but even that wasn’t a combo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Hahah, I love Smarties! And there are so many more flavors in Japan, too. πŸ™‚ It’s great fun. (Fun fact: that weird Japanese soda with the marble in the neck is actually ‘ramune’ flavored, which is the Japanese version of Smarties. πŸ™‚ )

      And root beer barrels! That takes me back… Now I’m wanting some (they don’t even sell root beer in Japan… πŸ˜₯ )

      In general, I’m also a simple palette person. I don’t usually put sauces or spices on things because I like the nuance of natural flavor, but…. I will try most things at least once. πŸ™‚

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  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Several years ago my son befriended a boy from Japan. Whenever the boy would visit our home, his mother would send us a bag of Japanese goodies (so sweet of her). It was always fun to explore them, but thank goodness we never got any of those salmon things. But we did get some Creme Colon once. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. noelleg44 says:

    I am constantly amazed and yuckified by what the Japanese do to snacks. I haven’t tasted any of these (and even though I loved smoked salmon, you’d never get me to eat that salmon candy), but when they stick to basics (I love seaweed) they score a winner. I didn’t know the Japanese were so into corn, but I have a great and simple corn chowder recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      You would make many people happy with that recipe, I assure you! πŸ™‚ The salmon candy I knew would be disgusting, but for the sake of science (or something) I tried it. The simple palette stuff is definitely the heart of their cuisine, though. πŸ™‚

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  5. Susan Gourley says:

    I’m pretty sure there wasn’t one thing you named that I would put in my mouth. I’m not a candy eater to begin with and I would have to be starving to try some of those. I do like most ways to prepare corn though just buttered is best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Yep! Buttered or just plain raw! I’m a pretty big candy eater, and these were all bought for the giggles. I didn’t expect any of them to be tasty, though the chips were decent for a write-off.

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  6. Dr. J.H. Watson says:

    In this post, Alex tries things so that we don’t have to. Seriously, thanks for trying all these and writing about them. Very interesting! I am simply not adventurous enough to try most of these, although the pistachio latte sounds like it might be pretty good and the Kit-kats seem tolerable. To my New Zealand palate, Japan likes some pretty weird snack foods. But since I used to eat honey and marmite sandwiches, I’m not sure I’m in a good place to be saying that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Ewwwwwww, marmite! (Just kidding…. though, ew, marmite. πŸ˜› ❀ ) There have been a few snack combos that were actually surprisingly good when I first had them. Sugared squid was pretty good, but I had that from Thailand, so can't speak for the Japanese variety.

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      • Dr. J.H. Watson says:

        Marmite in NZ is a delicious savoury spread that goes well on buttered toast, in sandwiches, or indeed wherever your inventiveness takes you. Marmite in the UK is a loathsome disappointing spread best left on the shelves of anywhere misguided enough to attempt to sell it.

        Vegemite? It’s an acquired taste…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. saraletourneau says:

    Oh my… I can’t even… Reading this just brings out the not-so-adventurous eater in me. *lol*

    Well, the apple pie and cheesecake Kit Kits sounded good by name. And I love salmon (had some grilled last Friday night for dinner – yum!), but I don’t think I’d ever try the salmon chews.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. rosie49 says:

    I love the idea of “troll candy!” Thanks for taking the hit on that salmon chew for the world snacking public.
    Local tastes are intriguing — and the foods of everyday life give travelers great local flavor. (weak pun, but isn’t that the purpose of traveling? to experience new things?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      It’s absolutely the reason to travel, and no worries, puns are allowed. πŸ˜‰ I’m sure, before I leave, there will be new silliness to experiment with, and I’ll be sure to share if it’s blog-worthy!

      Like

  9. peakperspective says:

    Salmon candy, huh. Well, the form you’ve described sounds pretty despicable, but our local fishmonger makes the most incredible ‘salmon candy’ ever. It’s obviously real salmon but it’s been smoked and sealed in a brown sugar glaze. Not quite jerky, but oh so morish!
    And I remember as a kid, we had a Japanese exchange student live with us for a year. I loved Hiromi, but the candy she had sent from back home had no appeal to me. I just couldn’t figure anything out from the wrapper and made a wide berth of it. Instead, we worked on equally colorful bits of paper. She taught me origami. I rather stink at it, but it was a lovely thing to watch her work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. joannesisco says:

    You are a braver person than ! am because I would have given all of these a very wide berth. Yuck! even the premise sounds awful. In fairness to the Pistachio Gelato Latte, I don’t drink milk, never have even as a child, and definitely won’t start now.

    It’s interesting you mentioned the KitKats because I noticed they are THE ONLY chocolate bar I always see in the Asian grocery story near me. In fact, it is the only place I’ve ever seen Green Tea KitKat. I’m not a fan of KitKat bars but I am intrigued about a Green Tea version πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. J.H. Watson says:

      KitKats are really popular in Japan, especially as gifts for students around exam time. Their name sounds a bit like kitto katsu, which means “you will surely succeed” – a good omen for anyone preparing for a test! The green tea version… eh, it’s not bad. I’m not a big fan of green tea, but in chocolate form its quite mild and has an almost soothing taste. Worth a try, if only for the novelty value.

      Liked by 1 person

      • joannesisco says:

        Aha!! I knew there had to be an interesting story behind the KitKats!!

        It’s not so much that I like green tea (I don’t), but I do really like green tea ice cream. Go figure … call it a quirk. I figure green tea and chocolate is at least worth a try, but since I already have chocolate issues, I’ve been resisting the temptation … well that, and the fact I don’t really like KitKats πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

  11. jazzfeathers says:

    I have never seen stranger food. But then I tried some Japanese snack when one of my firend came back from Japan. I can’t remember any of them, apart from one with sweet red beans inside, which was good, actually.

    Trying foraign food is fascinating πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Adzuki (red bean) is delicious! I love it with matcha and vanilla ice cream… so tasty. ^_^ I love giving everything at least one shot to impress. I am often pleasantly surprised!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Jean says:

    Salmon flavoured chews….you know, a better take might have been salmon crisps. Something crunchy, like chips.

    Honest, I bypass the junk food in Chinese supermarkets here in Canada which do include some Japanese snacks.. It’s sooooo artificial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alex Hurst says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty artificial! I have a feeling America’s candies are probably just as artificial, though… they’ve just gotten better at masking the flavors. For the record, Japan’s natural sweets (mochi, adzuki, etc.) are really delicious and are my preference! πŸ˜›

      Like

  13. isabellamorgan says:

    And this is why I’m afraid to eat anything when I’m in Japan! Haha! Heck, the canned coffee still freaks me out. I still have wasabi KitKats in the fridge from last time I was there. πŸ˜›
    I once saw a bacon sundae in Denny’s here in Canada. I was afraid to try it at the time, but now I wish I’d taken the plunge. πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

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