Friday, October 25, 2013

Nongshim Sweet Potato Snack

One of the lessons that I used to teach Japanese students had to do with symbolic hand or finger gestures. The sign for "ok" in America, creating a circle with thumb and forefinger and raising the other fingers, means "money" in Japan (or so I'm told). Humans do not naturally fall into the same sensibilities about symbols. However, due to globalization, we are coming to share more and more of the them.

I never thought too much about this point until I investigated the web site ran by the  South Korean maker of this snack. I saw that this company is a distributor for American brands that I would not have expected to see abroad. In particular, they sell products made by Welch's, V8, McCormick's, and Kellogg's, and, most strangely to me, Morton. That logo of the little girl with the big umbrella walking through the rain? I'm guessing they must recognize that in South Korea, too. It's weird to consider that they know salt the way I know salt. 

This is my first experience with a product by this company and they lured me in with the promise of a sweet potato experience. The potato on the front is the equivalent of a stick figure in potato form, but he does look pretty happy. I'd like to join him in yam happiness.

I should have looked at the ingredients list before forking over my 99 cents for this 55-gram/1.9-oz. bag of salty snackness. The first item is not sweet potato, but rather is "flour". This is supposed to be a sweet potato snack, not an alchemical abomination! You can't make sweet potato gold out of ground wheat. That is madness.

The second ingredient is sweet potato, but is listed as "white sweet potato". When it comes to sweet potato, I'll admit that I'm a bigoted woman. I like them yellow or orange and am fully prejudiced against white ones. If it's white, it ain't sweet in my opinion. So, I've already gotten off on the wrong foot with this snack and the other ingredients including one that takes up an entire line by itself - fructoooligosaccaride - is not encouraging me to go on.

Nonetheless, I tried to approach this mutant snack with an open mind, and then wished it had stayed closed. The substance within is fried, no doubt, and it is lightly salted, but it is far from being "sweet" or "potato". In fact, what it mostly tastes like is frying oil that has seen far too many re-uses. If you're really eating slow (which I don't recommend as then that frying oil taste is in your mouth all the longer), you can get a very vague somewhat sweet potato-y after taste, but your taste buds have to be flexing all of their buddy muscles to catch this. On a "lucky" bite, you may get an errant bit of sesame seed (a few pieces have one) and it'll taste better. Some are also sweeter than others (no doubt due to getting more sugar-coating), but they'd need a lot more than the occasional extra bit of sugar or sesame seed to make me decide not to throw most of it away.

This was a major disappointment and I won't be finishing the bag. It's not so much that it lacks appeal as the frying oil flavor makes it actively unpleasant. I'd rather have it tasteless than taste like French fries made in oil that had been used all day without a change. It's been awhile since a product has been bad enough to  warrant an unhappy rating, but this one easily took the "prize."


ibagoalie said...

It looks really greasy too!

Orchid64 said...

It really does! Part of that is the sugar giving it a gloss, but part is also the oil! Yuck!