Lotte Peanut and Chocolate Pepero

It’s been a few days since my last update. Hopefully there won’t be any more periods of such prolonged absence in the future – but you never know. To get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d jump right in with what I can confidently say is one of the more popular Korean snacks out there, Pepero (빼빼로, or ‘bbae-bbae-ro’).

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Pepero is very similar to the perhaps much more well-known Japanese snack Pocky (ポッキ), a snack that even most of the big name supermarkets sell in their Asian foods aisle. Pepero however is just as easily purchased in your nearest China town, or online Asian foods market.

Pepero, as my girlfriend tells me, effectively means ‘very skinny’ in Korean. To refer to someone as 빼빼한 is to say they’re built like one of Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures. As the pictures illustrate, each stick is long and slim, and so the name fits. High-fives all around to Lotte’s marketing department!

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This snack comes in several different flavours, and all of them are very, very good. I thought I’d start my first Pepero review with one I hadn’t tried before – peanut and chocolate. I personally think the white chocolate flavour is unbeatable, but this one is also amazing. Let’s not get bogged down in the details now.

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On average, you tend to get maybe eight or nine sticks per pack. Not a great amount (and certainly less than your average box of Pocky), though Pepero is much more ‘meaty’ in terms of size, and you don’t need to pack half a dozen of them into your mouth to really get the flavours to come out.

So what is Pepero? Pepero consists of slim, maybe six inch-long breadsticks covered most of the way with some kind of chocolatey topping. One end is the exposed stick, so you can grab them and eat without the worry of getting yourself messy; the other is thick with flavour, and ready to eat.

Unlike most snacks which feature breadsticks, Pepero doesn’t use those harsh, crunchy kinds that can really dry your mouth out. The chocolate dips and whatnot we have here in the U.K are guilty of this. Instead, they’re much softer, and much nearer to chocolate in terms of texture. What they do to achieve that, I have no idea. But it’s a good choice.

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I will shamefully admit that shortly after taking the pictures, I destroyed the entire box in record time. I’m not kidding. If my eating experience were to be named after a movie, it’d definitely be Gone in 60 Seconds. Shame aside, I think that’s testament to just how delicious these things are. Certainly a single sitting eat, anyway – unless of course you’re 빼빼로 yourself…

Pepero is also extremely cheap. The Chinese market I most frequently visit sells them for under a pound per box – cheap as chips. Take five pounds in there and you could easily come away with a box of each, and quickly work your way into those size 40 trousers.

The snack comes in a variety of different flavours, half a dozen of which I’ve seen over here in the U.K. I’ll almost certainly be reviewing a different flavour in the weeks to come, so keep your eyes open!

Orion Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Having no time to update yesterday, I thought I’d make this extra special and bring in another Orion product: the ‘chocolately’ chocolate chip cookies.

촉촉한 초코칩, or ‘chok-chok-han cho-ko-chip’, as is written on the outer packaging, means something akin to ‘choc-choc choco chip’, making stellar use of that triumphal three-prong rhetoric. It also, so I’ve heard, means something like ‘moisturising’, due to the soft aspect. There was a very interesting (Korean) Wikipedia article on that little linguistic display of genius, though I don’t have the ability to spell it out properly. Anyway, the ‘촉촉한’ part of the name effectively means ‘chocolately’, the appended ‘한’ (han) signifying an adverb. So the full translation might effectively be ‘chocolately choco chip’. Very nice.

In my experience however, these are much more like your traditional brownies than they are chocolate chip cookies. Whatever it is that makes a brownie, a brownie – I don’t know. What I’m saying is, these have a very soft, very easy texture to them, and very little of that hard crunch common to your regular cookie. I personally see that as a bonus, though others I know aren’t great fans.

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What’s worth mentioning about these guys is that they’re pretty dense in calories for something so small. At marginally over a 100kcal a piece, you want to watch your hands before stuffing the entire box into your face. I managed to restrain myself and simply have two. I’ll ration the rest out… maybe. Due to these cookies being individually wrapped, you can save them as long as you like (well, before the expiration date at least).

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Also, to utilise a quintessentially British term for a moment, these cookies are extremely ‘moreish’. For those on the other side of the world not familiar with our helpless neologising, here’s what Google has to say about the word:

moreish

And that’s exactly right. Eat one of these, and you’ll soon turn into Mr. Creosote, Garfield the Cat, and Daniel Lambert – all at the same time. If you don’t know who any of those people are, just imagine very three… well, two fat guys and one cat. But I digress.

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These are perhaps some of the best cookies I’ve tasted, with perhaps the exception of those Maryland double chocolate chips you can buy here in the U.K, and the famous soft, albeit much larger cookies they sell at Subway. Still, third place is respectable.

 

Lotte Strawberry Pie

I dare say the Choco pie is one of the more accessible varieties of Korean snack – at least in the U.K. Though many flavours exist, and are subsequently exported all over the world, we only get a humble selection of this famed snack. That said, it’s still pretty decent.

Of the Choco Pie family, I’ve decided to start with the strawberry flavour.

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So what’s Choco Pie in Korean? You might think it essentially sounds English – and you’d be perfectly correct in thinking so. Choco pie, said in the Korean tongue, just sounds like a slightly funnily-spoken version of the English. It’s also rendered as such:

쵸코 (lit. ‘chyo-ko’, or choco), and 파이 (lit. pa-i, or pie). The Choco pie is one of the many Korean snacks produced by Orion Confectionary Co, Ltd. (주식회사 오리온). This one however, a simulacrum shall we say, is produced by Lotte Food Co Ltd. (롯데). It is one of many creations, never mind snacks, to be blessed with that glorious, and at times, comic, concept known as ‘Konglish’ – a strange amalgam of Korean and English. There’s plenty more where that came from.

Choco pies come in several different sizes. There are likely more varieties and packaging in Korea, though in England I’ve seen two different kinds – the six pack, and the larger twelve pack. Both are quite inexpensive, and both contain pies that come individually wrapped for freshness. Because nobody likes a stale pie, unless they’re the devil.

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Now, onto the pie.

Choco pies are soft. I mean really soft. Imagine those weird flying saucer ‘dissolving’ candies you get at theme parks, crossed over with your bog-standard, run-of-the-mill marshmallow, and you’ll arrive in the vicinity of what a Choco pie feels like when you’re eating it. It’s definitely a unique experience.

The strawberry flavour isn’t fantastic, I must admit. The flavour suffers from that sense of artificiality common to many packaged snacks of this kind. I mean, one must make concessions when they’re going away from fresh confections, but it can at times be a little vexing when you’re met with a sort of faux-flavour after expecting something much more exact. It’s still pretty clear however that it’s strawberry. I’d compare the after taste quite closely to that of the strawberry sauce you get from ice cream vans, albeit a little drier.

The outer ‘buns’ are as described above. The middle, or centre however is slightly softer. Not quite like fresh cream, so much so that it gets on your hands and can make things quite messy; but not as solid as, say, a harder filling from a pre-packaged cake. It’s in the middle somewhere. Needless to say, you can eat these when out and about without having to worry about slopping the filling all over yourself. For me at least, I can scoff the entire thing in two bites. But that’s just me…

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Choco pies are very sweet, though not to the point where your teeth feel like they’re melting. I’d be lying however if I said that they were a little rich – the strawberry flavour at least. But that’s just my opinion. I certainly couldn’t eat a second pie in one sitting, much less make my steadily through the entire box. I’m sure some can, but not this guy.

More Choco pies will be featured soon. Which one? I cannot say!

Calbee Baked Onion

For my first review on Snack World, I thought I’d go with something which most people are familiar with – at least in some form or other: onion rings. Before I get down to the review itself, I’ll do a little explaining for those completely unacquainted with Korean. So what exactly is구운 양파?

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구운 양파, or ‘gu-woon yang-pa’ (literally, ‘baked onion’), are baked onion rings. I was a little confused with this product, as Calbee (カルビ) is a Japanese snacks manufacturer – and yet the product is obviously in Korean, and marketed as such. I’ve simply decided to treat it as a Korean snack.

To get right into things, let me say that this the best bag of onion rings I’ve ever had, and that’s no exaggeration. In the U.K we have several different brands, though none of them compare. Not even close.

Oftentimes, and this isn’t exclusive to onion flavoured crisps, the taste smacks of the artificial. You can tell it’s supposed to be onion, though the delivery isn’t what you expect. As a result, the experience is nothing more than an ‘ehhhh, they’re alright’, rather than the response they ought to elicit, which is more like ‘I NEED MORE, NOW’.

The taste here is as genuine as eating the real deal. Flavoursome, strong (but not overpowering), and is characteristic enough of what it’s supposed to be that you really enjoy eating them.

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The texture, too, contributes to the experience. As any foodie will tell you, texture is an equally important facet of the eating experience, as well as flavour, temperature, and a myriad of other qualities. These onion rings don’t have the typically hard, ‘sharp’ texture that most baked crisps do; they’re softer, and produce less of that ear-splitting crunch when eating. It lessens that experience of ‘I can’t hear anything but my own crunching’ – which I’m sure everyone will agree is quite annoying, especially if you’re trying to watch a movie, or some television at the same time.

What about portion size? These are bigger than your average bag of Walkers, or McCoys, but smaller than what you might call a ‘family bag’ of say, Sensations, or Kettle Chips. I’m not a small guy, and these were certainly enough for me. You can be fat and eat them in one sitting, or split them into a few portions throughout the day. There aren’t so few that you feel as though you’ve been cheated (I’m looking at you, Walkers); but there aren’t so many that you feel obligated to finish the bag, having already gnashed through two-thirds of its contents. Then the bloat sets in. My god, the bloat. Thankfully, there isn’t any of that.

A solid addition to any daily lunch or mid-movie snack.

Why Snack World?

Hello all!

I started this blog for two chief reasons: one, I love to eat; and two, because I love eating Korean food – snacks especially.

After eating so many delicious snacks, I naturally wanted to recommend them to my friends. In every case they ended up loving them too. I figured why not do it a large scale? This way I can eat more (with a little impunity, at least), and hopefully convince a few others to expand their snacking horizon.

So why Snack World? Pretty simply, really. I wanted something that works in Korean as well as English. Given my Korean is terrible, I was stuck with a relatively narrow lexicon to choose from. I knew the word ‘snack’ (gan-shik, or 간식), and the word ‘world’ (seh-sang, or 세상) – thus, Snack World was born.

Does that mean I can speak Korean? A little. I’ve been studying on and off, whenever I’m not busy, for the past year or so. I can read okay (even if I don’t always know what I’m reading), and my pronunciation, by all accounts, is pretty good. Still, my understanding of grammar leaves much to be desired. Vocabulary, too.

That being said, my aim with this blog is to make frequent updates on any Korean snack food I can get my hands on. That will include anything from jellied sweets and hard candies, all the way to savoury snacks and bottled drinks. As the name entails, I will only be reviewing snacks, and no main dishes. I feel there are a number of better, more equipped people out there than myself to review the myriad of Korean dishes – and that’s how I’d prefer to keep it.

I expect the style will change in the coming months, years even; so any comments and suggestions you might have, don’t hesitate to send me some mail!

– An English snack lover