Monday, April 11, 2011
Heinz Tomato Ketchup Corn Snack
The name of this snack sounds like someone is spelling out the product a little too clearly. Back home, I think these might be called "ketchup puffs", or maybe even "Heinz balls." Okay, maybe the latter wouldn't be acceptable in polite company. In Japan there are often these overly explanatory names of certain things that have a foreign origin. We wouldn't say "tomato ketchup" because we assume all ketchup is made with tomatoes. Similarly, the Japanese call coffee cups "mug cups". A mug is a cup, but they have a different word to differentiate a coffee cup from other types of cups.
Getting to the product at hand, I found this 60 gram (approximately 2 ounces) bag at Okashi no Marche discount snack shop in Koenji. I need to do a bit on that particular shop some time because it is like the deep discount version of a discount snack shop. They have cardboard boxes full of very cut price items and these were a mere 50 yen (60 cents). That makes them about half price. In Tokyo, it's not uncommon for stores to offer discounts as paltry as 3% and exceptionally rare to find a discount this high on anything. I've never seen a place that dealt in soon to expire food with steep price cuts because I think such items would not appeal to Japanese folks who have a scrutinizing eye when it comes to freshness.
Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of ketchup. I'm more of a mayo and mustard girl, but I don't detest it. I wouldn't have purchased this if it weren't so cheap. That being said, ketchup has grown on me to a small extent as the years have gone by. There used to be a time when I couldn't abide even a dollop of it in a larger preparation, but I've used it in homemade vegetarian burgers and even in omurice.
It's a good thing that I've found that I can enjoy ketchup to some extent because these are intensely flavored with it. If you like upending the bottle into your waiting mouth or licking it off a spoon, this is the snack for you. It is nicely salted (not too much, not too little) and crispy and just puffy enough without being too airy. The tomato flavor is also very prominent.
I liked these, but I think I wouldn't buy them again as I'm simply not that big a fan of ketchup. I believe they are well-made, but too one-note. The Frito-Lay Japanese condiment-based snacks are so over the top flavor-wise that they are hard to resist even when they're not up my flavor alley. I'll keep trying them, even if I expect to never want them again.