When I first came to Japan, I didn't have a phone or television. Telephones back them required a deposit on the order of $500, and my husband and I already had borrowed about $10,000 from his brother in order to set up shop here. That money, incidentally, was mainly sunk into the cost of our apartment (first and last month's rent, a month for real estate agency fees, and a month as a way of thanking the landlord for accepting about $1200 a month from us in exchange for living in a tiny apartment). We also used some of it as start-up scratch (furniture, food, living expenses until our first paycheck arrived). We wanted to pay that back before we indulged in luxuries like telecommunications or T.V.
When we finally got a T.V., it was a tiny one that only caught signals from local T.V. channels and had very little, if any bilingual programming at a time when we were novices to Japan and the Japanese language. We didn't watch much T.V. back then, but there was a bilingual travel program which talked about all sorts of resort areas in Japan like Hakodate. Since Hakodate is in Hokkaido, they kept playing this song which went something like, "oh, oh, Hokkaido, Hokkaido-oh, oh." I probably heard snippets of that song three or four times during that one viewing of that program and it has burned into my cortex and I cannot get it out. What is worse, now every time I see a product from Hokkaido, that hideous ditty pops back into my head. Needless to say, I've never been to Hokkaido, and probably never will go there for fear of going mad from the endless loop that would surely result.
Jaga Pokkuru cavorting in the blue waters before their lives are horribly ended in some drunk's mouth.
So, now we come to the actual review portion of our program in which I tell you that this is a souvenir-only item from... oh, oh, Hokkaido. Supposedly, you can only buy them from kiosks or souvenir shops in Hokkaido-oh, oh, but Rakuten sells a box of ten 18-gram packets for 840 yen ($10.48). The box we were given has six 18-gram (.64 oz.) packets. The selling point of these over something like Jagabee (which is a similar product also made by Calbee) is that these are whole fried potatoes that are monitored by a human being rather than processed sticks which are created by a machine.
These look like petrified French fries. They also sort of smell like them. What they taste like, however, is potato chips in somewhat concentrated form. If you could make a chip that was as thick as a fry with all of the flavor and crispy texture of the chip intact, this is what it'd be. These have a nice potato flavor and are lightly salted. They are a fine enough salted snack but the thickness is, at least initially, a bit odd. I'm not used to eating something which looks and crunches like a thin chip but is so dense.
This is excellent to have around for a salty snack craving, especially with the individual packets discouraging you from eating more than108 calories at once. That being said, I would never buy these for myself simply because I can't see them as being superior to Calbee's already delicious line of regular chips. If I have a choice between this and a bag of any of their flavored or plain chips for a much lower price, I'd take the chips. That being said, this was a very welcome gift and a good souvenir. I'd definitely be happy if someone wanted to give me another box.
Just a gentle reminder that there is a contest running for two weeks to win a few snack and snack-related goodies. If you'd like to enter, the details are in this post.