10 Popular Snack Foods Of Japan
Have you ever wondered what treats people around the world enjoy? When the urge strikes, Americans will snack on anything from Doritos to granola bars. In Japan, however, the snack food scene is quite different. Here are 10 of Japan’s favorite treats!
1. Dried Crabs
Kanikko – or dried crabs – are the Japanese equivalent of peanuts. At first glance, they look like crab-shaped pretzels or crackers, but kanikko is made from real crustaceans, and they’re meant to be enjoyed with an ice-cold beer. These bite-sized crabs are sweet, salty and incredibly crunchy.
2. Squid and Octopus Jerky
The Japanese eat dried squid and octopus like we eat beef jerky. That is, as a chewy, salty snack that goes great with a frosty beer. In Japan, you can find this jerky as shreds, rings or just the tentacle potions, which are reported to be the chewiest of all.
If octopus jerky and dried crabs aren’t quite weird enough for you, you can always snack on inago. Inago are small grasshoppers that live in rice paddies. The Japanese either deep fry them or cook them in a sweet sauce, and they can be eaten as a snack, or served as a condiment over rice.
4. Kit Kat Bars
The Kit Kat Bar is one of the best-selling treats in the United States, and it is by far the most popular candy bar in Japan. In fact, the Japanese love it so much that they have created more than 200 different flavors. Some of the flavors – like strawberry and cinnamon cookie – sound delicious. However, flavors like baked potato, soy sauce and wasabi make you think that perhaps Japan has taken its Kit Kat craze just a little too far.
5. Jam-Filled Cookies
What’s odd about jam-filled cookies, you ask? The jam used to fill monaka cookies isn’t the fruit flavored stuff that we enjoy, but a type of bean paste instead. Made with anko beans, the filling is sweet and the cookies themselves are light and crispy. This is such an incredibly popular treat that Japanese cities often have several specialty shops devoted to creating gourmet monaka.
6. Shrimp Curls
Although they look similar to cheese curls, Kappa Ebisen tastes nothing like cheese. Instead, these snacks are shrimp flavored, and they’re so beloved that a Japanese burger franchise called Lotteria has created their very own Kappa Ebisen burger. This sandwich features a shrimp patty that is batter-dipped in crushed Kappa Ebisen crisps. If you’d like to experience a similar snack, the closest American equivalent is Shrimp Flavored Chips, which you can find in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
7. Seaweed Puffs
This is another Japanese version of the cheese curl, except these small corn puffs are flavored with nori seaweed. They go by the name Kyabetsu Taro. The name is almost as odd as the snack itself – “kyabetsu” means cabbage, which is not an ingredient, and “Taro” is a common first name among Japanese men.
8. Hot Potato Rings
Bokun Habanero is a popular brand of ring-shaped potato chips, and they’re famous as Japan’s spiciest snack food. The name, which translates to “Tyrant Habanero,” also happens to be the name of the brand’s mascot, a devilish red chili pepper who grins up at you from the front of every package.
9. Mountain Dew Flavored Cheetos
Who wants to eat Cheetos and drink soda when you can just eat soda-flavored Cheetos? Perhaps that was the logic when Frito-Lay Japan developed Mountain Dew Cheetos. This isn’t actually the first time Japan has mixed soda flavors with snack foods, either. In 2013, Frito-Lay Japan also produced Pepsi Cheetos.
10. Cucumber Cola
If the Japanese can make their Cheetos taste like soda, then why not make soda that tastes like vegetables? Pepsi’s Japanese division wanted to create a refreshing summertime beverage, which is why they finally settled on the crisp flavor of cucumbers. Pepsi Ice Cucumber was available in Japan for a limited time, and during its brief run, it was actually quite popular.
Have you ever tried a snack food popular in another country? Tell us about it in the comments below!