Monday, December 8, 2008
Karu Jyaga (Curl/Light Potato) (salt flavor)
The potato is one of the most versatile foods mankind has at its disposal. It's not enough that it's the only vegetable that we actually enjoy eating, but we're also gifted with the ability to find a multitude of fun ways to eat them. In order to appeal to our sense of novelty, snack food companies continuously endeavor to process the potato in different fashions. Generally, this means changing the shape and adding different spice mixes. Glico seems to have come up with a new one and it's a little difficult to explain. Well, it's not difficult, but weird. The karu jyaga potato snack is essentially a processed potato tube.
These are not to be confused with potato straws or sticks. These are not airy and puffed. It's like someone took a chip and rolled it around a chopstick and then fried it up and salted it. Of course, as the box says, these are not fried. As the box doesn't say, they are also not made from real potatoes. They're like a more potato-like version of a Pringles chip so I'm guessing we're talking dehydrated potato re-hydrated and made into some sort of dough and wrapped around a pipette and baked. Each stick is about 5 inches long and too uniform to be a real potato slice, though they are a very good approximation of a real chip.
Aside from presentation, there's not really a whole lot going on with these. They smell like potato chips. They taste like potato chips with light salt and they crunch like chips. They're just much more fun to eat and a little more expensive than a bag of chips. A 55 gram/1.9 oz. box was about 150 yen ($1.50). As a point of comparison, a 70 gram/2.46 oz. bag of "Rich Cut" chips is only 100-120 yen ($1-$1.20) and they're considered premium chips. The other point about these is they seem pretty high in calories for something which is baked. The entire box has 281 calories which is just a few fewer calories than regular fried chips when you compare the weight and calorie counts. (One ounce of Lay's plain potato chips is 150 calories.)
Still, being able to whip our a packet of potato tubes or pretend you're an astronaut enjoying a space age salted treat is possibly worth the higher price. Also, I think that the name of this product is a play on words. "Ka-ru" is Japanese-English for "curl" (and these are like super tight curled up potatoes) and karui is "light". So, if you are big on tube-shaped products with word plays that are trying too hard to be clever (and, frankly, who isn't?), this becomes an even cooler snack option.