Snacks are extremely important to young Koreans. They all lead very, very busy lives. Often, they eat on the run, in the subways or buses. Some of their snacks are like American snacks, but most of them are uniquely Korean. When young Koreans go as students to other countries, they miss these snacks. When I was teaching international students in America, a couple of Korean girls stayed at my house, and when they got boxes from home, these kinds of things were included in their boxes. My Korean son in law loves some of these uniquely Korean snacks too. When I was in Japan as a student, we all got a kick out of seaweed flavored potato chips, and when we tried them, they were even good. However, many Korean snacks just don’t draw me at all, and I have a hard time understanding why they like them. Koreans have very unique taste buds that are just not like the rest of the world.
I was out and about today, and I stopped in at Home Plus, one of Korea’s stores that is like a Super Wal-Mart in America. I go there occasionally because there are things I can find there that I can’t find in other places. Today, I was looking for hamburger buns, and lately, Home Plus seems to be the only place selling them. There was only one package, but at least they had some. After I picked up the hamburger buns, I decided to go to the chip aisle because I was thinking about making guacamole tomorrow, and I didn’t think we had enough tortilla chips. There was a time that just plain tortilla chips were harder to find, but now, I find a lot of things that I couldn’t find in the beginning.
I found my tortilla chips in the chip aisle. I felt kind of lucky because I usually buy a Korean brand, but there were American tortilla chips at Home Plus today, only one bag, and I picked them up. I felt lucky to find them. I had scanned two very full aisles of Korean snacks to find them. As I was looking at the snacks trying to find them, I was amazed at the things that Koreans eat. I realized that you probably won’t find these kinds of chips or flavors in American grocery stores, and people would find these chips interesting, so I began taking pictures.
Pretzels are a little bit hard to find in Korea, and we hardly find them when we go looking for them. They had pretzels, but we would never buy these flavors: spicy beef, wasabi, and stir fried seafood. If you have never heard of wasabi, it is the green very spicy stuff that comes from Japan. At times, in a restaurant, there will be a small green dab of some green paste on one side of your plate, and I advice not eating it because it is downright SPICY, SPICY! They never serve much at once in Japan, but in Korea, they serve it in larger portions. It is not really that popular in Japan, but anything spicy is very popular in Korea.
When I see Pringles, I think, “Oh, good! Something normal I can eat!” Well some of them are normal, but they send some pretty crazy flavors to Korea. We can get original Pringles that are like plain potato chips. However, here they have jalapeno flavored, sweet potato, Italian pizza which is spicy, mayonnaise flavored, sea food flavored, and another spicy kind. I wonder if they sell all that stuff in the States. I haven’t been there for a while, but I wouldn’t buy all this stuff if they sold it there. However, the young Koreans like this stuff.
These snacks are corn chips and potato chips, but if you look close, they are not lightly sprinkled with sea weed like the chips we ate in Japan, but completely lined with sea weed. If someone eats these, they really have to like sea weed a lot. My kids actually grew up with sea weed because I eat it sometimes, and they enjoy eating just plain sea weed like chips.
Here are several kinds of traditional Korean snacks. I find it very interesting that none of them are chalked full of chili spice or some kind of fish. I usually like their traditional snacks much better than the more modern ones. The different flavors I see here are sweet potato, rice crispy type snacks, puffed wheat snacks, etc. One is even almost like peanut brittle.
I also saw some squid flavored snacks, and I thought I took a picture of them, but somehow, I am not finding the picture. I saw corn chips dipped in chocolate. Does that sound any good to you? Koreans have a very unusual culture that grew up on the other side of the world from America, and they isolated themselves. China and Japan were the only countries who knew they were here. They liked China, but they wanted Japan to get lost. Korea was known as a hermit country. If you came to Korea in those days, you were never allowed to leave because they didn’t want anyone to know they were here. They did their own thing uninfluenced by the rest of the world. However, the rest of the world has come to Korea now. The unusual basics of the culture has caused some very interesting things to happen here, and these chips are part of that. The American tortilla chips I found were Tostitos. There was only one package, and I was lucky to find them.