Monday, December 3, 2012

Wagaya Yamitsuki Corn Snack (Hot and Spicy)

"Yamitsuki" means "addictive". That means that this $1 (82 yen) bag of corn snacks has a lot to live up to. I'm not expecting it to take its place next to cocaine or even alcohol, but it should at least edge up to the position held in the aching stomachs of former Twinkie junkies and Lay's potato chip consumers who eat themselves into carb comas. 

Frankly, I was mainly drawn to this because of the promise of "hot and spicy" contents. I found it for a reduced price (but not in the bargain shelves) at the Daiso. I don't know if it being a little cheaper than the standard $1.50 per item price at the Daiso meant anything other than the fact that not every food item has to be the same price, but I could have seen it as an ill omen. The reason I didn't is that food isn't normally something I see in any way as ominous... unless it's something with an expiration date that has passed and may have living creatures reproducing in it.

Getting back to this "corn snack", I always love how Japanese snack foods are so generically called "rice snack", "corn snack", etc. Someone could have called these "hot waffles" or "spicy weaves" (though that sounds like a hair augmentation that is supposed to make the ladies want to dance the tango with you or something), but, no, they are just "corn snack". Actually, even in America, sometimes you find this type of naming convention. Safeway's rip-off of Triscuits is rather pragmatically named "Woven Wheats". I guess that the Japanese market can't be blamed for not trying any harder than the America one, especially when they're writing the name in English.

When I opened the bag, I smelled a vaguely spicy scent which seemed a bit like paprika or tomato. The pieces themselves are actually pretty large. They're about the same length as a standard potato chip, but narrower. If these look suspiciously like an elongated piece of Chex cereal, you're on the right trail. That is very much what these taste like, though they seem slightly different in texture. They even have a fairly high level of sweetness for a salty snack. The fourth ingredient, after corn flour, hydrogenated palm oil, and tapioca starch, is sugar. Clearly, these are nutritionally rather bad news just from that information alone, but it is worse that Sucralose rounds out the list because you need both sweetness and artificial sweetness. 

I am not really daunted by the ingredients as I don't expect junk food to be nutritious. As long as you don't eat too much of it, your body should be able to process the toxins. Of course, I don't drink alcohol, so my liver isn't being taxed outside of the processed snacks I eat and your mileage may vary if you find yourself at frat parties getting drunk into a stupor and waking up full of a sense that you should regret something but are unsure exactly what that might be.

The main problem with these is that they have almost zero flavor depth. Despite listing miso powder, there is a distinct lack of savory flavors. I gave this a good chance to reveal more taste, but all I got was the slightly sweet corn cereal flavor and heat. The "hot" part works at about the level at which you feel it, but there isn't actual pain, but the "spicy" fell down on the job completely.

These are, for lack of a better word, "serviceable" in that they are salty, crunchy, and hot. They're also light. The whole bag (1.94 oz./55 grams) is 240 calories, which doesn't make them much lower on the calorie totem than chips, but they feel nice and light. You can eat more of them compared to chips because they're puffier and have holes in them. This does not a great snack make though, and it is miles and miles away from addicting anyone.

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