snäcken Tue, 02 Dec 2014 01:30:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Review: Otona No Amasa Strawberry Kit Kat (Japan) Tue, 02 Dec 2014 01:30:10 +0000 There are certain things in life that make me cringe. These include tuxedo T-shirts, cheddar cheese on apple pie, and every episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore.

These “Otona No Amasa” Strawberry Kit Kats from Japan also make me cringe. That’s probably why I’ve waited more than six months to write this review. Motivating myself to write about a candy that tastes similar to watered-down Pepto Bismol was easier said than done.

The scent of these Kit Kats is fruity and sweet, reminiscent of a strawberry yogurt. There’s a subtle initial flavor of strawberry — it seems artificial and chalky, but it’s still present. As you continue to chew, the flavor becomes full-on cough syrup and spreads all over your tongue. Nasty!

I understand Japan’s fascination with wacky-flavored Kit Kats, but there was no reason for Nestlé to manufacture these. Just like Billy Joel and automobiles, Kit Kats and strawberry flavoring should not mix. Even the color of these Kit Kats is off-putting; there’s nothing natural about a pink-colored Kit Kat with flecks of red strawberry mixed throughout.

I don’t know what’s more painful: the flavor of these Kit Kats, or knowing that I have a whole bag of them remaining.

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Review: UFC Sweet Filipino Style Spaghetti Sauce Mon, 13 Jan 2014 01:43:03 +0000 Do you know what the best part about having friends is? Spaghetti. Two good friends of mine kindly gifted me this packet of UFC Sweet Filipino Style Spaghetti Sauce.

Like all good spaghetti sauce reviews, this one begins with a story. Because I haven’t acquired the permission of my friends to use their names on the internet, I will henceforth refer to the aforementioned amigos using the Ancient Scandinavian names Ragnbjörg and Jórunnr.

Despite his Nordic pseudonym, Ragnbjörg is of Filipino descent. After learning of my fascination with McSpaghetti, a spaghetti dish offered offered at Filipino McDonald’s restaurants, Ragnbjörg invited me over to his Viking castle and assembled a feast with the assistance of his ladyfriend Jórunnr. For the main course, Ragnbjörg prepared Filipino-style spaghetti, which is markedly sweeter than spaghetti doused in run-of-the-mill marinara sauce. According to Ragnbjörg, the secret ingredients are sugar, ketchup, and the blood of three goats sacrificed to the Norse god Heimdallr.

Ragnbjörg’s spaghetti was top-notch. His parents used to own a Filipino restaurant, so one can only assume he’s got that magic touch in the kitchen. The kid could probably whip up some mean dinuguan.

A few months after our feast, Ragnbjörg and Jórunnr gave me the UFC sauce you see here. Will it be anywhere near as delicious as McSpaghetti? (I would tell you, but I’ve never actually tried McSpaghetti. Don’t worry — it’s on my bucket list.)

The sauce is incredibly thick. As one would expect, it’s slightly sweet with an almost ketchuppy flavor. Unfortunately, it possesses a really powerful herbal quality, like someone threw way too much oregano or cilantro into their pot of tomato sauce. As a result, the sauce is super potent. I needed to add a significant amount of plain spaghetti to dampen the flavor to a tolerable level. Perhaps if this sauce was blended with a can of standard tomato sauce, the result might be more a bit more balanced.

I would recommend purchasing UFC Sweet Filipino Style Spaghetti Sauce for an interesting break from the spaghetti sauce norm, or to smother any uncontrollable urges for McSpaghetti.

But if you can, stop by Ragnbjörg’s place. Just be sure to bring a few goats.

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Review: Otona No Amasa Matcha Green Tea Kit Kat (Japan) Wed, 20 Nov 2013 03:54:09 +0000 Oh, college. Sometimes, you make me want to pull my hair out. The lectures, homeworks, and exams are all too much.

When I’m feeling particularly overworked, I do what any sensible person does to unwind — take a trip to my local H Mart to stock up on unhealthy foods. There’s just something so therapeutic about that Asian supermarket. Walking down an aisle stocked with enough instant ramen to give hypernatremia to an elephant is better for relieving stress than a deep tissue massage. Just think of all that sodium! Plus, the bakery inside makes cronuts. Need I say more?

While recently enjoying some much-needed relaxation at the H Mart in Edison, NJ, I stumbled across these babies.

Okay, so they’re not actually babies. H Mart doesn’t sell babies. They sell Kit Kats. Japanese matcha-flavored Otona No Amasa Kit Kats, to be exact. (If you haven’t seen my review of the chocolate Otona No Amasa Kit Kat, be sure to check it out over here.) At $7.49, most people would have found the bag overpriced, but I’m a sucker for Japanese Kit Kats.

Breaking open the bag, we find twelve miniature Kit Kats, each individually wrapped.

Removing the plastic wrapper reveals a Kit Kat tinted an alarmingly unnatural green hue. (I imagine leaving a normal milk chocolate Kit Kat on the bathroom floor for a few months could invoke a similar color.) The candy bar is speckled with darker green flecks which I assume are supposed to represent tea leaves.

After jamming one of the Kit Kat wafers far up my nostril, I can proudly confirm that yes, the green tea Kit Kat does indeed smell like matcha. There’s even a slight hint of white chocolate to the scent.

The green tea flavor of the Otona No Amasa matcha Kit Kat is lightly sweet and mellow, a gentle touch of matcha mixed with a creamy white chocolate base. (If you’ve ever tasted green tea ice cream, imagine that flavor in candy bar form.) There’s even something a bit leafy about the aftertaste. Because the green tea flavoring seems so mild, the plain cookie flavor of the wafers seems to shine through a bit more than with a regular chocolate Kit Kat.

Despite the high price tag, I’m glad I purchased these green tea Kit Kats. Their delicate matcha flavor is addictive, and I would recommend them to any fan of international sweets who has yet to experience one of Japan’s many marvelous Kit Kat flavors.

Peace. I’m-a go find out if elephants even eat ramen noodles.

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Review: Lianshangni Instant Red Milk Tea Wheat Flavor (China) Wed, 25 Sep 2013 18:46:12 +0000 Hello, Snäcken readers! Today my friend Stephanie will be writing a guest review of a product we happened upon in our local Asian food market. Check it out!

Milk tea is best known throughout the western hemisphere in the form of the ubiquitous bubble milk tea drink. A classic beverage in Asia, it has only caught on throughout the West in the past decade. Now, bubble tea is enjoying a surge in popularity around college campuses and metropolitan areas. However, few realize that milk tea can be consumed devoid of bubbles.

Lianshangni is a food company based in Anhui, China. The company’s name roughly translates to “still love you”, which could definitely be the name of some overdramatic Chinese drama…based around instant milk teas.


Deep within the heart of China, panic sets in as the milk tea crisis continues. Grief-stricken, milk-tea-less denizens of a small village cling to hope that all is not lost. Two lovers dispute over the final cup of milk tea in their possession, until they read its fateful label…Lianshangni, the story of how love transcends beverage withdrawal.

Lianshangni’s wheat flavor instant red milk tea beverage includes almost everything you need for a full milk tea experience: insulated cup, drinking straw, milk tea powder, and…jelly cubes? Well, okay, people line up for tapioca bubbles in their milk tea; coconut jelly isn’t too far of a stretch. But cubes? Cubes are clearly inferior to spheres.

The instructions state that one can add either hot water for a classic hot milk tea or ice cream for a cold milk tea. Wanting to stick close with tradition, I chose to add hot water rather than risk changing the overall flavor with ice cream.

For those of you who can’t read Chinese, here are the instructions, direct from a former Chinese teacher. Well, my mom.

  1. Open both packets and add to the cup.
  2. Add 350 mL of water of at least 85°C.
  3. Mix and enjoy!

Upon opening the milk tea powder packet, I was hit with an overwhelming wheat scent. It had a nuttiness to it that is reminiscent of the strange wheat germ beverage my grandfather so frequently drank. The scent was so strong that smelling it up close made my head spin. They should require a prescription for this stuff!

The sealed liquid cup held translucent white rectangles of coconut jelly suspended in a clear syrup. Unable to resist curiosity, I tasted the syrup, expecting it to be fruity and sweet like the syrup in Dole fruit cups, but I’m sad to say that it tasted of nothing at all.

Well, after using a measuring cup and all that, the foam cup could only safely hold about 250 mL of water. For the Americans out there, that’s 1.056688 cups.

At last, it was time to taste the swirly, light tan goodness. Occasional bits of wheat powder specks decorated what otherwise could appear to be a light coffee drink. I dipped in the bright yellow straw and took a sip. At this concentration, the wheaty flavor was present, but not overpowering. The milk tea itself was clearly a red tea, but was less flavorful than other not-from-concentrate versions I have tried. Both flavors intermingled unoffendingly and the addition of coconut jelly added a change in texture that proved rather addicting. The jelly itself was more chewy than not, but had a satisfying give to it.

The flavor of this beverage stays true to the authentic wheat red milk tea that East Asians will know and love. The difference between this and its authentic non-instant counterpart lies in the strength of both wheat and red milk tea flavors. As a Westerner, I found this level of strength palatable for a drink of this size, while I may not be able to stomach a full cup of the classic version. For someone more used to the flavor, it may not hit the spot, especially when you’ll find this in an Asian supermarket likely to stock the original versions of these two flavors.

Love, betrayal, and delectable beverages abound! Stick around for the next installment of Lianshangni

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Review: Lay’s Sweet Basil Potato Chips (Thailand) Tue, 20 Aug 2013 00:38:17 +0000 As someone who’s experienced all three flavors dreamed up by the American finalists of Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, I must confess: I am bitterly disappointed. At the beginning of the year, the American people were given the opportunity to sample Chicken & Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread, and Sriracha potato chips before choosing their favorite flavor.

Let’s disregard how the chips actually tasted. I want to talk about the ideas here.

Really, America? This is the best you could think of? Chicken & Waffles is fairly unique, but boring Cheesy Garlic Bread and over-hyped Sriracha? Please! I could think of better potato chip flavors in my sleep. And no, I’m not just bitter that Lay’s rejected my idea for tuna salad chocolate pudding potato chips. The idea was genius. Genius, I tell you!

As a matter of fact, other countries have seen some pretty wacky potato chip flavors outside of crowdsourced competitions. The United Kingdom has BBQ Kangaroo, China has Pepsi & Chicken, and Australia has Vegemite.

Today, I’ll be looking at Lay’s Sweet Basil potato chips, direct from the land of Pad Thai and ladyboys: Thailand.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the bag was the scarcity of chips. What gives, Lay’s? Two-thirds of this bag was filled with air! As far as I’m aware, the world hasn’t been experiencing a tater shortage lately.

Sadly, these Sweet Basil potato chips smell nothing like basil. In fact, I found their aroma to be vaguely reminiscent of paprika, similar to the Lay’s American Cheesy Paprika chips I’ve reviewed in the past. In addition, there was a certain quality hiding behind the chips’ slight herbal scent that reminded me somewhat of ketchup flavored potato chips.

Their savory taste was similar to their scent: lightly herbal, tinged with paprika, mellowed with the aforementioned hint of ketchup, and nothing at all like basil. My first bite held a bit of a peppery kick to it, and as I continued to eat, the heat progressively grew. These chips have quite the spice! I grabbed a can of Apple Sidra to tame the burn, but the addition of carbonation only gave me fire burps.

fire burps – noun plural – informal term for the medical condition known as “igneus ruptus”; a condition whereby carbonation and spice combine in the digestive tract to produce a series of blistering eructations.
Greg had a nasty case of the fire burps after chugging that two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew mixed with Tabasco.

Although Lay’s Sweet Basil potato chips taste nothing like basil, their flavor profile charms with a light herbal taste and a touch of heat. Their savory / spicy duality is highly addictive; I had no trouble finishing the bag, despite coming down with the fire burps. I highly recommend picking up Lay’s Sweet Basil potato chips if you ever have the chance!

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Review: Bourbon Petit Choco Chip Cookies (Japan) Sat, 10 Aug 2013 17:30:35 +0000 Japan’s given the world an assortment of strangely flavored snacks. We’ve seen Pepsi-flavored Cheetos, cheese-flavored Kit Kats, and these things. That’s why I’m hoping these Bourbon Petit Choco Chip Cookies from Japan are actually bourbon-flavored. I can’t wait to get sloshed on these cookies.

The miniature cookies come packaged in red, tube-shaped plastic, complete with a waving cartoon bear and loads of Japanese text. Because I can’t read Japanese, I’ll assume the text is merely a warning that the cookies contain 80% alcohol.

The quarter-sized cookies are double-chocolate: a chocolate cookie base with chocolate chips. They smell strongly of cocoa with a slight hint of bittersweet chocolate.

The base of the cookie provides a strong cocoa flavor with a light chocolate sweetness. As the taste develops inside of the mouth, the chocolate chips serve to accent the cocoa flavor, adding moments of heightened sweetness. The cookie is crunchy, yet not brittle, and their bite-sized form makes them addictive by nature.

Unfortunately, I find the bourbon to be nearly undetectable in these cookies…

What’s that you say? Bourbon is the name of a cookie company?

I want my money back.

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Review: Otona No Amasa Kit Kat (Japan) Mon, 05 Aug 2013 15:00:59 +0000 Here in America, the phrase “adult themed” has a certain connotation to it. Generally, it’s a polite way of saying “awwwww yeah, prepare for naked people.” The last thing I would consider marketing as adult themed is a Kit Kat bar. I don’t tend to associate naked people with Kit Kat bars.

I ran across this Otona No Amasa Kit Kat at Sunrise Mart in the East Village. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to read the box at the time of purchase; my Japanese skills are severely limited. (I know how to say “you are strong, Gamera!” but that’s about it.) Luckily, my good friend Mr. Google is multilingual. He assures me that “otona no amasa” roughly translates to “adult sweetness.”

The Otona No Amasa Kit Kat is sold in Japan as an adult alternative to the standard Kit Kat. It’s supposedly less sweet than your average, run-of-the-mill Kit Kat and features dark chocolate cookie crumbles layered between the wafers.

Notice the elegant packaging. This Kit Kat is clearly more sophisticated than the others on the market. A Kit Kat of this gentility must be enjoyed in a properly refined manner: accompanied by the finest Cuban cigars and a glass of Scotch.

The box contains three individually wrapped miniature Kit Kat bars. After removing one of the wrappers, I immediately noticed the Otona No Amasa Kit Kat’s dark black color. Both its appearance and scent are strongly reminiscent of dark chocolate.

Compared to a standard Kit Kat, the Otona No Amasa Kit Kat seems less sweet overall, but with a more prevalent bittersweet flavor. I happened to have an American Dark Chocolate Kit Kat on hand for a taste test. (Note: American Kit Kats are produced by Hershey, while Kit Kats in other parts of the world are manufactured by Nestlé.) After experiencing both, I’ve concluded that the Otona No Amasa Kit Kat seems much more subtle and reserved in flavor alongside the standard Dark Chocolate Kit Kat. Its bittersweet qualities suitably accent the chocolate’s creamy base without overwhelming the taste buds.

The inclusion of cookie crumbles between the wafers can only be detected faintly in the Otona No Amasa Kit Kat’s flavor. I sincerely doubt that anyone lacking prior knowledge of the cookie crumbles would be able to sense their presence.

All things considered, I found the Otona No Amasa Kit Kat to be much more enjoyable than the Dark Chocolate Kit Kat. Its flavors seem refined in comparison, and the chocolate seems to complement the wafers with a more meticulous finesse.

Just don’t try dipping it in Scotch. Big mistake there.

(Scotch Kats, anyone?)

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Review: AriZona Soda Shaq Vanilla Cream Soda Sat, 03 Aug 2013 16:42:14 +0000 Shaq’s been receiving a lot of criticism recently. Some people feel it’s hypocritical for him to release a soda line after voicing his support for efforts to prevent diabetes.

Look. Can we stop ripping on Shaq for just one minute? It’s not his fault that Kazaam is one of the most hilariously bad movies of all time. Sure, maybe Shaq Fu really is that painful to play, but can we please stop crying about it? And enough jokes have been made concerning the music video for Aaron Carter’s That’s How I Beat Shaq.

My point is, Shaq’s received enough disapproval in the past. The big man obviously just wants a little love for once. Can’t we all just give “Wilt Chamberneezy” some love? (I think he needs it after receiving that nickname.)

Soda Shaq is available exclusively at 7-Eleven in four different flavors: Blueberry Cream Soda, Orange Cream Soda, Strawberry Cream Soda, and Vanilla Cream Soda. The line of drinks is marketed as all natural: the sodas lack preservatives, artificial flavorings, and artificial colors. In addition, they’re sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

I have here a can of the Vanilla Cream Soda variety.

The beverage comes in the usual tall AriZona can. In my opinion, 23.5 ounces is a little too much, but I imagine the 7’1″ basketball player would have no problem scarfin’ this down. Sure enough, the phrase “a big can for the big man” is found on the side of the container, right next Shaq’s severed head. (I think he’s winking at me.)

When poured into a glass, Vanilla Cream Soda Shaq is the usual amber color of cream soda. As one would assume, it smells identical to other cream sodas on the market.

How’s it taste? Well, like a traditional cream soda with one major drawback: Soda Shaq is significantly less carbonated than one would expect. The high level of fizzability that makes conventional sodas so satisfying and addictive is absent. Because of this, its flavor seems weak and unmemorable. It doesn’t really give the impression of a soda gone flat, but the inadequacy of its carbonation makes this Soda Shaq feel somewhat similar to a juice. The vanilla cream flavor is there, but fails to possess a proper balance in the soda’s textural form.

Though not dissatisfying enough to be labeled undrinkable, Vanilla Cream Soda Shaq’s standard cream soda taste is doomed by its lack of sufficient carbonation. I’ve heard mixed reviews of the other flavors in the Soda Shaq line, but Vanilla Cream’s flaws have left me hesitant to experience more.

I’m sorry, Mr. Chamberneezy. I had your back on this one, but you dropped the ball. (Heyo!)

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Review: The Nestlé Kit Kat (UK) Sat, 27 Jul 2013 15:01:45 +0000 It’s time for a showdown. Revolutionary War style.

This past week, I spent some time at Tysons Corner Center, the largest shopping mall in the state of Virginia. Just as I was beginning to feel woozy from the toxic fumes emanating from the nearby Abercrombie, a Nestlé Kit Kat from the United Kingdom called out to me from inside Candy Heaven. (Unfortunately, the store attendants weren’t wearing angel wings. Hey, if you’re going to name your store Candy Heaven, you have to go all out.)

In case you’re unaware, the United States is the only country featuring Kit Kats manufactured by The Hershey Company. Everywhere else, you’ll find Kit Kats produced by Nestlé.

I’ve been told in the past that the Nestlé Kit Kat tastes noticeably superior to the Hershey version. This did not surprise me, as I find Hershey chocolate to taste cheap and mediocre. (The Hershey Bar just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.) Supposedly, the Nestlé chocolate used in their Kit Kats has a much more refined taste.

Despite my general dislike of Hershey chocolate, the Hershey Kit Kat has always been one of my favorite candies. Nothing gets me going in the morning like a chocolate covered wafer. (Except coffee. Coffee gets me going, too.) Therefore, I found myself wondering: just how much could a Kit Kat be improved with the addition of high quality chocolate? It was time to find out. I purchased two Kit Kats (oné Nestlé and one Hershey) and raced home from the mall to commence my taste test.

In addition to their differing wrappers, the actual Kit Kat bars contrast in physical appearance. The Nestlé Kit Kat appears slightly darker than the Hershey version and features an imprint of the international logo. The underlying wafers could be seen through the backside of the Hershey Kit Kat, while a dense layer of chocolate prevented any visibility of wafers in the Nestlé version. However, this discrepancy may be related to slight melting caused by the intense summer heat! (I am well aware that this melting appears visible in the accompanying photos.)

I first took a bite of the Hershey Kit Kat, hoping to gain a baseline for my comparison. Soon, I was munching on the Nestlé version.

I expected any taste difference to be subtle…but wow. I was terribly wrong.

The contrast really becomes apparent after significant chewing of the Kit Kats, providing adequate time for the chocolate to melt onto the tongue. The chocolate of the Nestlé Kit Kat has a certain depth to it, making the Hershey version taste rather shallow. The Nestlé chocolate actually tastes like chocolate should, with an undeniable richness that crescendos on the taste buds. It possesses a more intricate complexity of flavor which the Hershey chocolate cannot rival. It’s not that the Nestlé chocolate seems more sweet, but that the Hershey chocolate seems one-dimensional and dull in comparison.

Like many, I’ve grown up consuming an inferior version of the chocolate covered wafer treat, blissfully ignorant that the Kit Kats across the pond were promoting a higher standard for chocolate excellence. After experiencing the revelation brought about by this Nestlé Kit Kat, it is with a heavy heart that I conclude: the Hershey Kit Kat will never again truly satisfy my taste buds. The Nestlé version is so noticeably superior to its Hershey counterpart; it is truly something that must be experienced by every American Kit Kat connoisseur.

Great Britain, you’ve put our American Kit Kat to shame. At least I can rest easy knowing that our bacon is better than yours.

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The Return of the Twinkie Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:25:48 +0000 Hello, old friend. It’s good to see you again.

Yes, Twinkies have returned. Even though the Obama administration refused to honor my demands for a Hostess bailout, Twinkies are back on the shelves. I recently picked up a box at a Walmart in Fairfax, VA. The Walmart itself was disgraceful, even more so than your average Walmart. Half of the shelves were empty, and an employee stared blankly when I asked about the availability of Hostess snacks. Nevertheless, I found the goods.

Rumors have been spreading that the new Twinkies are smaller than those produced prior to the bailout. I’m not sure if this is true. Regardless, I’m happy that they’re back. As far as I can tell, the taste of the new Twinkies is nearly identical to the originals’.

I spent last night attempting to express the importance of the Twinkie’s return to my girlfriend. During my frothy-mouthed monologue, I compared the Twinkie to Lonesome George, the very last of the Pinta Island tortoises. Now that Twinkies are back in production, it’s as if an entire tortoise community has been discovered living inside of a dumpster behind Taco Bell. Put simply, the Twinkie is no longer an endangered tortoise…erm, snack food.

And now, I must bid farewell. A box of Twinkies is calling my name.

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