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 Chik Chok Original

So here we have another top product from Lotte, their ‘Chik Chok Original’ chocolate chip cookies (칙촉).

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Honestly, these were, although delicious, a great deal similar to Orion’s cookies I posted a while back, albeit not quite as intense in terms of taste. That doesn’t however mean they were inferior (on the contrary, I enjoyed these I dare say a little more); but that the flavour wasn’t as rich, and consequently, not as sickly-sweet.

Call me childish, though I was impressed with the little folding hatch on the box, a la a box of Maltesers. It calls to mind those absurd pictures of 1960s Spiderman… and that has to count for something, right?

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The packaging is also highly similar to those by Orion, which prompts me to think that one is the counterfeit, or rip-off of the other. Given the above-mentioned hatch, I’m siding with Lotte on this. Sorry folks. The similarities continue: you get precisely the same amount of cookies. The cookies are the same size, thickness, and packaged very similarly. Even the design on the little foil wrappers is very similar. I assure you, I didn’t just buy a different flavour box!

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As for my personal preference, I prefer these. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of incredibly rich snacks and dessert foods – at least not in anything other than small quantities. For those of you with an intense sweet tooth, you might just as well opt for the Orion product.

Regretfully, this one may have to be cut short. There simply isn’t enough I can say about these without repeating myself by way of the Orion review. I did however enjoy two of these this morning with a glass of soy milk (a method of eating I’d highly recommend), something I didn’t try out on the other cookies.

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Crown Cheese Biscuits

There was a little confusion regarding this product when I first mentioned them to my girlfriend. Crown cheese biscuits, or crackers as some people might call them, had written on the box the words ‘뽀또’, which I instantly read as ‘bbo-ddo’ – or ‘board’. Thus, cheese board. But apparently it’s not that at all. One should, as I’m told, read it as ‘ppo-tto’, which is a unique example of Korean onomatopoeia; the sound one makes when biting into these delicious biscuits. Still, let’s refer to it as a happy coincidence and a clever example of dual-meaning.

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A common snack in Korea, I immediately took these for an Eastern version of Ritz crackers, a comparison I would soon learn was not too far off from the reality. For those of you who haven’t had Ritz biscuits (do you people exist?), you may have to bear with me when I speak with some assumed familiarity.

So these biscuits are effectively two Ritz crackers stuck on a small cheese centre. I say cheese, but the flavour is something a little different. I really can’t tell you what it is, though the cheese flavour, as most of us know it, is very thin indeed; to what remains I have yet to draw an apt comparison. The texture is almost identical to Ritz: somewhat soft, a rough texture on the surface; yet soon melts in your mouth. I guess the sensation you might typically associate with a biscuit is here not present; it’s very much two soft crackers, with a soft filling between them. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a similar product in the U.K.

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I have to say – and quite unusually – that this is a product I wasn’t too overjoyed with. They certainly weren’t bad, in that I had to eject them from my mouth like a Frisbee onto the plate; but they were forgettable. Korean cheese does have a reputation of being sub-standard (it being mostly in the ‘plastic’ slice form); but for a nation that doesn’t produce or consume a great deal of ‘real’ cheese, this certainly isn’t a slight. The centre simply isn’t that flavoursome, and ultimately falls flat.

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I’ve eaten one of the two packs in the box so far. For my second box, I may buy some Ritz and a slab of nice extra mature cheddar, fashion my own cheese board, and then go to town. I have no doubt it’ll be superior; but in all fairness that would be moving the goalposts somewhat. Being something of a cheese connoisseur however, the disappointment I felt with this product was a little more than a shake of the head an enervated 실망이야…

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Haitai Original Egg Snack

It’s cookie time again! Well, sort of. As a dyed-in-the-wool filthy tea drinker and red coat, I’d have to describe these more as biscuits; though my girlfriend calls them cookies. Whatever category you want to put them in, these are known to Koreans by the name of ‘계란과자’ (kyeah-ran gwa-ja – literally ‘egg snack’). It’s original, too. This delightful product comes from Haitai, or as is written on the packaging, ㅎ태.

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I had an unusual attack of nostalgia whilst I eating these, which I still haven’t been able to identify exactly. It immediately called to mind those small, somewhat hard biscuits they sell here under the Farley’s brand, rusks. They’re not quite as hard, though there was a scarcely perceptible similarity. Aside from that, these are in a league of their own, unlike anything I’ve tasted before.

Inside the box is a small foil bag. Admittedly, these do tend to suffer from ‘air-packing syndrome’, as I shall now to refer to the phenomenon (totally just made that up): the ability for a foil or plastic snack bag to be seemingly bursting with contents, but in reality is scarcely halfway full. These have that, unfortunately. I didn’t count how many, as the biscuits themselves are very small; but there certainly weren’t as many as I was expecting.

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That said, they’re delicious. Something of a halfway house between a regular cookie and a soft mallow-type snack, they go down pretty easy. Owing to their small size, you need to take two or three at a time to really feel like you’re getting the most potential out of the flavour. The flavour, by the way, I thought was conspicuously un-eggy. Not in a bad way; though if I were handed these in a blind test I certainly wouldn’t put egg at the top of the list. There’s a certain creamy, ‘fresh’ flavour to which no words can do justice – you’ll simply have to try them to know what I’m talking about.

Despite being sweet, I feel these are very much the ambassadorial types of the Korean snack world: fairly simple, small in portion size, and inoffensive insofar as wildness of taste, texture and whatever else is concerned. In plainer terms, these are definitely the ticket when it comes to introducing your elderly or otherwise unassertive family members to foreign snack foods.

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Additionally, I’ve always thought these would make a good movie snack. Take a box with you, and gradually run through them as you watch. Not that I’m promoting avoiding the stinging prices of the concessions… but… yeah, well.

I was told after the fact by my girlfriend that these are heavenly to eat with a glass of milk, chocolate chip cookie style. Alas, I polished off the box before any such research could be undertaken; but that’ll definitely be my next venture.

Dr Chung’s Food Snow Chocolate

Owing to a recent illness, I’ve been debating whether I’ve been eating too many sugary snacks. Or maybe it’s the opposite; that I’m not eating enough…

Anyway, this is my first drink review in what is hopefully a long line to come. A fairly small carton, like the fruit juices we normally have here in the U.K, Snow Chocolate (스노우 쇼콜라, literally ‘snow chocolat’), put out by the Dr Chung’s Food brand, fails to disappoint. Or should that be chocolat, as the French spell it? Let’s move on.

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If the pictures didn’t already give it away, Snow Chocolate is effectively chocolate milkshake. But it isn’t just chocolate milkshake – at least how people in the U.K might know it. Here, for those who aren’t familiar with our domestic brands, milkshakes of any flavour fall ostensibly into two categories: the milky kind (that is, the ‘thin-tasting’ ones), and the thicker, more gloopy varieties like Mars, Galaxy, etc – the latter being the drinkable versions of the chocolate bars.

Snow Chocolate seems to dodge those two distinctions quite well, and while boasting quite a few similarities to the typical fare, manages to rise above the rest quite unexpectedly. I’ve given a few other products on here this compliment before, but Snow Chocolate has a very genuine, much more relatable flavour than your average product. The chocolate manages to give the impression of chocolate, but doesn’t overpower the senses. The milky aspect on the other hand is still present, though it isn’t disappointingly watery, thin, and unsatisfying. If I had to name a closest comparison, it’d likely be the Galaxy chocolate milkshake, though not as off-putting with its gross richness.

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I’d say one advantage of the brand is that it’s very small in size, much like the small fruit juice boxes one takes on road trips, or to pack into lunchboxes. Smaller is better you say? In this case, absolutely. Whilst Snow Chocolate skirts the border between rich and weak in taste, it also works out perfectly in terms of portion size. Once you’ve slowly sipped all the contents, you feel just about content. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a regular bottle of milkshake, only to feel that uncomfortable bloating and fullness after finishing it. You don’t get none of that here, folks.

As the saying goes, good things do indeed come in small packages!

Ajumma Republic Roasted Seaweed Snack

I imagine most people, upon being confronted with the idea of eating seaweed (in any form), would recoil their heads in disgust and declaim any of us who do enjoy it are barking mad. Well, that’s nonsense; but it does seem to be a common attitude. Not to a Korean, of course – but to those of us who enjoy this delightful food on western shores.

From Ajumma Republic (an ajumma, or 아줌마 in the native tongue, is a middle-aged woman, loosely analogous to the French madame or German frau) comes this delicious roasted seaweed snack. My research tells me Koreans call this 김구이, or ‘gim gu-i’ (gim being seaweed) though that may very well be wrong. Like I said, I’m not an expert at this.

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For those who have never tried seaweed before, I’m going to do my best to not only provide a decent description of what I feel it is, how it tastes, etc; but also encourage people to give it a go. You won’t regret (really).

Once opening the pack, you’ll see a flimsy plastic tray with the seaweed contained within. I didn’t count how many sheets you get, though there are quite a lot. Enough to share, or enough to snack on for multiple sittings. Each sheet is very thin, and approximately the size of a credit card. There’s no special way to eat them. It’s simply a case of grabbing a sheet (or doubling up, even tripling up, as is very tasty!), and stuffing it into your mouth. I prefer eating them in one bite, as the seaweed has a tendency to flake off and get everywhere. Better to contain it and save yourself the mess.

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There’s a certain ‘melting’ quality once it comes into contact with your tongue, a quality not really comparable to any western food. It’s simultaneously flaky, but also very soft and manageable. It’s a ‘quiet’ food, put it that way. As you can imagine, there is a salty taste going on – it being a product of the sea after all. Salty as it may be, it isn’t extreme, and those shaking their heads right now shouldn’t be put off. However those who do like a little extra salt in their diet will definitely have their fancy tickled (that’s not a rude remark, honest).

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Like many Korean snacks, these are terribly moreish. Owing to their being quite insubstantial (they’re effectively nothing when compared to a cookie, or small cake), you’ll need quite a few of these to feel sated. It’s not uncommon for me to dispatch with the whole carton in one sitting, though I am a food killer, as my girlfriend says…

Bonus points? Once the entire carton is empty, you’ll find a little ‘clean pack’ underneath. For freshness and… stuff. But really, don’t eat it. It’s completely useless after you’re finished, though to western eyes it’s certainly a novelty to find in snack food.

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Go ahead, get some gim in your life.

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!