There is some debate in this age of hyper-awareness of nutrition as to whether or not corn is a healthy vegetable as opposed to a "fun" one like the ever-wonderful potato. In Japan, I'm pretty sure that corn is still seen as hanging around in the same circles as carrots and tomatoes when it comes to health, or at least the way in which this product is presented on Calbee's vegetable snacks web site gives me that impression.
I found this bag of salty, cheesy snacks at Seiyu supermarket in Ogikubo after a visit to the dentist. I noted that this was not on offer at the Seiyu in my area, though there is no reason why that should be other than limited shelf space in all stores. After all, Calbee is a big salted snack maker and always gets its chips on the shelves. One of the things that drew me to them was the fact that they are cheese, and, you know, cheese! The other is the fact that the entire 60-gram (2.1 oz.) bag is only 307 calories. The volume is large enough that I could see getting three generous portions for only about 100 calories each.
This is 1/3 of the bag or about a 100 calorie portion. Each chip is about 3 cm. x 2 cm. (1.2 in. x .8 in.).
These smell rather mildly of the sort of fake powdered cheese that those of us who make junk a regular part of our lives are well and truly familiar with. Each light, beautifully crispy bit is lightly dusted in cheese powder which is supposed to combine Parmesan, Cheddar and Camembert flavors.
The taste is on the mild side, but has the pungent notes you'd expect from a cheese snack. The first handful doesn't deliver much other than crunch with a little salt, but subsequent consumption allows for the cheesy flavors to build up a bit and take on some definition. You can really detect the Parmesan in particular, and the sweet corn that is used to form the base. In fact, the savory nature of the sweet corn is really where these shine. It's a very nice flavor.
I wasn't keen on these at first, but they really grew on me as the flavors infiltrated my taste buds. My husband ate a handful and said they didn't taste like anything to him, so the flavors might be far too subtle for some people to enjoy. I wish the cheese flavors were more pronounced, but I really loved the sweet corn flavor of the chips. They're also really light and not oily at all. If you want something salty and crispy but not as oily or flavorless as plain potato chips, I would definitely recommend giving these a try.
Note that the web site for these chips mentions an "original character" called "Chizubi", a little cartoon dog. If you have a cell phone, you can use it to read one of those square bar codes and see some special deals related to this cute little character. Since I don't have a cell phone, I guess I'm out of luck.