Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Tohato Tyrant Habanero Garlic Sticks
I studied psychology with a fairly strong emphasis on biology and behavior. One of the things I learned about was how and what stimulates the brain in a particular manner. In particular, the brain responds to pain by releasing counterbalancing pleasure chemicals. This is one of the reasons people like to eat foods that are hot and spicy despite the sometimes painful burn associated with them. It is a way of tricking your brain into juicing you up a bit.
Whatever the reason may be, I love hot and spicy things and the "Tyrant Habanero" product line always catches my eye. You can identify them in Japan by the evil jack-o-lantern red pepper mascot that graces every bag. There are only two things that keep me from having a constant supply of these snacks on hand, the calories and the fact that they taste great going in but are far less pleasant on the way out.
I came across these stick-style garlic habanero snacks at AM/PM convenience store. Those who want them have to get them at "conbini" as they are not sold in other types of shops. I'm afraid that I don't remember exactly what I paid for this 35 gram (1.2 oz.) bag, but I think it was around 130 yen ($1.44). The entire bag is 175.5 calories, and that's not bad for the quantity of salted snack sticks.
When I poured a few of these out to take the picture, I was reminded of some sort of spicy or barbecue snack stick that I had on rare occasions as a child and really loved. I have a strong sense that the brand name was "Popeye" (and a company named "Allens" makes Popeye potato sticks, but their web site is mum about snack foods), but I couldn't find anything on the web that resembled what I recall. Part of the problem is that Popeye's fried chicken is talked about so much that anything with "Popeye" and "spicy" brings up a chicken-related result. If anyone remembers what I'm talking about, I'd love to hear about it.
These sticks are not very long, about 4 inches or 10 cm each. They have a really perfect potato-based snack texture which is airy enough to be light and crispy but not so much as to feel like nothing. The spice at first carries a heavy garlic flavor, unsurprisingly, but the cumulative effect of the heat soon squashes that out of existence if you keep eating. And, oh, I kept eating. I ate the whole bag and my mouth was on blissful fire by the end. These have a great mix of garlic, onion, paprika, and various meaty flavors so the taste has depth until your tongue is too inflamed to detect them.
I adored these. I'd buy them again in a heartbeat, but I'd try harder not to eat the whole bag at once next time. I've heard that some people find the Tyrant Habanero series too meek for their hot food needs, but I found it just about right.