Ever have the craving for potato chips but found them boring to eat? Probably not, but anyway like many other aspects of life in Japan, some crafty folk have found the solution to an everyday life problem you previously didn’t know you had. Jagariko (じゃがりこ）potato sticks are best described as what would happen if potato chips and pocky combined forces. They’re long crisp sticks of potato that come in a broad variety of regular and seasonal flavours including cheese, sour cream and even salad. Beyond just being a crunchy snack, you can actually also make these bad boys into mashed potato, just add hot water, wait a few minutes then mix vigorously.
Haichū’s ハイチュウ, are essentially the candy your parents would have warned you about as a child. The overly sweet (though delicious) stick of individually wrapped candies are pretty much guaranteed to tear out a loose tooth, however it’s probably worth it. Originally created as a an edible kind type of chewing gum, this cheeky snack is now available outside of Japan, but you won’t find a better selection of flavours than at your local Japanese konbini. Featuring classic and rotating choices, they’re sure to keep your dentist in business for a while yet.
When it comes to chocolate snacks it doesn’t get any cuter than Meiji Mushrooms. Known in Japan as ‘Kinoko no Yama’ which means ‘Mushroom of the Mountain’. Though there are a rotating cast of different flavours on offer, go for the classic milk chocolate. Crispy perfectly-toasted biscuit stems are topped with the iconic smooth Meiji chocolate creating a straight up harmony of texture and taste. You didn’t know chocolate snacks could be such an art-form until you’ve demolished a few boxes of these.
Crunky chocolate bites
Crunky are the go-to chocolate snack when Meiji’s mushrooms are feeling a little too fancy. There are a number of ways to enjoy Crunky’s products including bar form, and ice cream, but the recommended route is the Crunky chocolate bites. These little balls are filled with popped grains of rice making them as fun to eat as they are delicious. Like everything else in Japan they come in a variety of styles, but try the green tea and strawberry options – they are a failsafe choice.
Umaibo is one of the konbini’s humble overachievers. These small, puffed, cylindrical corn sticks are a staple in many school lunchboxes, and given that they’re about ¥ 10 each (less than 10c USD) they win on price alone. Texture-wise these guys are similar to Cheetos, but flavour-wise they’re much more diverse. From Shrimp mayonnaise, to pizza, chocolate, classic cheese and even teriyaki chicken, the snack’s name which means “delicious stick” in English, stays very true to its product.
Baby Star Ramen
Ramen lovers rejoice, there’s another way to enjoy this addictive and iconic Japanese dish. Baby Star Ramen is the noodle alternative to potato chips. Having been around for eons, this typically savory and crispy noodle snack recently actually teamed up with Fanta to produce the bizarre but intriguing soft drink flavoured version. Easy to eat, and satisfyingly crunchy they’re the perfect park picnic snack, or a great accompaniment to an after work beer.