Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Cheetos Combo - Spicy Salami & Cheese Flavor チートス・コンボ スパイシーサラミとチーズ味

Got these from J-List a while back and noticed that they were about to expire the other day and consequently decided to try them. (I have a separate drawer for Japanese snackage, and as a result I often neglect eating stuff until I have a craving. I also often purchase J-snacks merely for their pretty packaging and expect very little in the way of taste in certain items.)

I really have to say, I am fairly uncertain about the existence of delicatessens in Japan. I know at least one Subway restaurant exists and I've seen on blogs and heard about through people I keep in contact with, that certain sandwiches and shops that make said sandwiches *do* exist. Regardless of that fact, the company that makes these is US-based Frito Lay. Now I assume that Frito Lay Japan has a largely Japanese staff, devising flavors that would satiate the Japanese palate. If it was a largely American staff, I would say it's ironic that Americans couldn't pin down salami flavoring in a snack, since every kid I grew up with, in their lunches in grade school had a salami & cheese sandwich everyday.

Now that the secret is out about what I think of the actual flavoring, I'll say this: if you are a person who enjoys salami and/or cheese, then these aren't for you. (Also I'm pretty sure they're a limited flavor and are no longer available. =P) If you are, however, someone that as a child enjoyed eating dog biscuits because you enjoyed mimicking the family dog... then these might suit you! I love cheese, and though I'm not a giant fan of pork products, I do enjoy the occasional piece of salami. Having said that, when I opened the bag I was greeted by an odor that smelled kinda like a cross between dry dog or cat food, a beef bouillon packet that you'd get with instant ramen and possibly onion or garlic powder.

The first thing I do when I get a salty Japanese snack now is scan the ingredients list for the kanji 魚 - or fish (and ebi, which is shrimp). Having a relatively vehement dislike for fish, as well as knowing that the staple of a normal Japanese person's diet aside from rice *is* fish, it never really dawned on me that my snacks-bought-abroad might contain some fishy additives. That is, until I bought a bag of "Thai" flavored Habanero rings from Tohato. They basically both tasted and smelled like high tide. That's why I tend to only buy things that don't really hint at having meat of any sort in them. (Which, I've kinda killed that rule in the last few months... these Cheetos, Teriyaki Doritos and Kua Aina "burger chips" which are apparently based on some famous burger shop in Hawaii's recipe and are also made by Frito Lay aaaaaand also kinda smell and taste like unsavory dog food) Anyway, it turns out that that "high tide" smell turned out to be "ebi powder", my Thai Habanero rings were dusted with "shrimp 'leavins". That experience was the final piece in a puzzle that told me I would never have a Japanese palate to tolerate most Japanese food.

As for the taste of the Cheetos, it wasn't much better than the smell. Since both flavors are mixed in the bag and the whole package is so pungent, I can only assume that the salami is overpowering the cheese flavor, because I've had "straight" Japanese cheese flavored Cheetos and Doritos, and they *are* cheese flavored. These... have no trace of cheese flavor to be found. They have the typical Cheetos shape and crunchy texture, but again, just grossness permeates the whole thing. While they don't taste like dog food per se, they certainly don't taste good. The onion/garlic powder taste shines through, and garlic powder is listed about 1/3rd of the way down the ingredients list. Pork powder, milk powder, vegetable (plant) oil, and oddly enough sugar are all near the top of the list. I tasted absolutely nothing sweet at all, nor the pork that is an essential for salami.

I bought this on the premise that the flavor would be interesting, not the packaging (which I could see before purchasing it). So when the flavor(s) disappointed, I knew already that I couldn't say, "Well at least the package is cool." It looks like any normal bag of Doritos you'd buy here in the US, only with kana on it.

If you happen to see this anywhere, do yourself a favor and pick up some colorfully-packaged dog food instead. ~_^

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