Mammos Cola Candy

Apologies for the late update. I’ve been quite busy lately, what with my university, my own writing, and numerous other things. The next week is pretty hectic, though I will try and keep the updates as frequent as possible.

Another first this time, with these hard ‘cola candy’ (콜라 캔디) from Mammos. The name is literally just ‘cola candy’ in Korean, which looks something like ‘korra kaendi’ when transliterated. It’s ugly, but it is what it is.

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I experienced some kind of tragic enthusiasm when first opening these, as they satisfied a condition that many western snacks do not – at least not anymore. The foil bag in which they came was filled to the brim with individually wrapped candies. As many western readers will tell you, empty space or air seems to be half the contents in many snacks. The bag gets bigger, the contents get smaller. But not here my friends. The bag is loaded, and you get more than you could expect.

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Another annoying trend that has been successfully avoided is the ‘clumping’ these kinds of sweets. Remember Campino? Do they even sell them anymore? Anyway, the problem they suffered, along with many other brands, is that they were loosely piled into the bag with no individual wrappers. If you stored them incorrectly, or you kept them in the bag for too long; hell, even for no reason AT ALL – they would clump together in one huge hard chunk, which necessitated you then chisel them apart with an ice pick or sledgehammer. Cola Candy? No sir, none of that here. Each candy is individually wrapped, again in foil, which guarantees no clumping, and keeps each piece super fresh.

Aside from actual cola, the drink I mean, I’ve personally found cola-flavoured products have for the most part fallen short of the real taste. My personal theory is that cola is a carbonated drink, and so emulating the sensation it produces on the tongue when drunk is quite difficult – probably even impossible to pull off correctly. These candies don’t have the ‘tongue fizzling’ quality to them. Bad for those who desire genuine flavour, though fairly inconsequential to those who just want to eat something tasty.

They’re small, perhaps the size of those chewable vitamins, so you can even stick two or three into your mouth at once (if you’re into that kind of thing). This is definitely a product for the car or workstation – maybe even to put into your school or university bag. They’ll last a long time, so you can dip into them every now and again when you fancy something small and flavoursome.

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As a corollary, ever since I gave up smoking candies like this have been a godsend. That oral fixation never quite goes away, so hard candies, chewing gum – even coffee, tea, and flavoured drinks have served as good distractions.

One more thing: my girlfriend claims to have never seen these in Korea before. I did a Google search (in Korean) and the exact brand pictured turned out to be quite uncommon. Maybe they’re new, or perhaps just not widely circulated. Who knows…

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Lotte Waffle Mate

The first thing that struck me about Lotte’s Waffle Mate (와플 메이트, literally ‘waffle mate’) was that they bore a striking resemblance to the Dutch stroopwafel, or ‘syrup waffle’. That is, at least in appearance. My original assessment was only half right, and there was much to discover about this delightful little snack than I had originally envisioned.

First of all, these aren’t really waffles – at least how most people know waffles. Most people in the U.K would define waffles as the grid-like shapes made out of potato that are traditionally served hot; the Americans however would define them as those big things they have at breakfast, heaped in sickly-sweet syrup and god knows what else. But these are neither here nor there. They’re not bad, of course; but very different.

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Each box comes with two foil-sealed packets, each containing three waffles. It’s most definitely a lunchbox food, and similar in portion size to many savoury breakfast bars easily bought here. I speak from personal experience when I say that each packet is very short-lived. One is certainly enough; though if you’re especially hungry, you may find yourself destroying the entire box…

So what are they like, you might ask? It may sound strange, though I’d like the texture to biscuits that have gone just ever so slightly stale. I personally love stale biscuits, so that’s all good news to me. They’re soft, though retain just a smidgen of crunch to them. The taste is definitely waffle-like. I can’t say much more on that front, as describing the taste of waffles without using waffles as a means of comparison is surprisingly difficult. To put it this way: if you like waffles, and are very much in the waffle crowd, then you will love these things.

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I still have one packet left to go in my batch, so will test these out with a pot full of tea and coffee. Something tells me there’s a great deal of extra flavour to be gotten when combined with that good old English addiction…

For those of you that have tried these any other way, either by experimentation or otherwise, please let me know! I’m always looking for novel ways to stuff my face!

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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:

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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