Prior to coming to Japan, I never thought much about the private lives of cartoon mascots. Most of them really didn't require a back story. They just appeared on the front of the product package and looked deliriously happy at the prospect of consuming whatever was tucked inside. Of course, Cap'n Crunch is the exception. Back in his younger days, he was the surliest swab who ever scrubbed a poop deck. It was only after Prozac became a big part of his life that he became the jovial spokesperson that we know and love. That being said, the propensity of his cereal to cut up the roof of your mouth is no coincidence. No amount of Prozac can annihilate the need to inflict a little buccaneer mayhem.
Getting back to cartoon mascots and Japan, Jaga Rico's mascot is apparently quite the world traveler and has a wide and diverse family. Calbee's site includes information on job, family status, and geographic location. This is one cosmopolitan family of cartoon giraffes. Who wouldn't want to partake of their rich salted snack food heritage? Well, actually, in general, me. I've reviewed two types of Jaga Rico before and was less than impressed. It's not that I don't like these salted potato straws. They are crispy and have a good potato flavor. The issue for me has been the flavor depth, which has left me wishing for something more potent.
I came by these in an unusual way. My husband and I were out for a night-time walk and he felt like playing a UFO Catcher game and there was one which looked interesting and it had Jaga Rico as a prize. To be precise, there were plastic bags with three containers in it and one of the flavors was German potato. According to the family history pages of the cartoon giraffes, this flavor has returned by popular demand and should impart the flavor of onion and bacon as well as, of course, potato.
The first bite is, indeed, a bit on the hammy side. The "bacon" element is definitely the strongest flavor. The onion is quite subdued, though it tends to add to a savory backdrop along with various extracts and powders such as cheese, chicken, and garlic. The first two straws are pretty good, but the problem is that the flavor seems to vanish quickly. It's as if the tongue acclimates so rapidly to the subtle nature of the flavorings that they fade away. This is not necessarily a bad thing. They are crunchy and salty in a satisfying way, but the aspect which is German potato quickly becomes almost irrelevant.
My husband won 12 containers of Jaga Rico, and I will eat most of them, slowly. Fortunately, one of my students told me that this is her favorite snack so I'll give some of them to her and I'm sure she'll be appreciative. I think that most people would be happier with these than me. I'll admit that I like strongly flavored salted snacks and being a snack reviewer makes me extra fussy. My review is indifferent, but I think that these might have better appeal to people of different tastes.