Hong Kong Pizza Snacks Showdown

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

I felt like the luckiest kid in a candy store when Robyn returned from Hong Kong last week bearing a lovely bundle of gifts for Slice. Only, who needs candy when you can have Asian "pizza" products?!

It wasn't entirely clear to me exactly what flavors these snacks hoped to communicate, since "Pizza" is practically the only English word to appear on any of the packages. Obviously, there was only one way to find out. And no, that way was not finding someone to translate; it was the tried and true method of the American people. I stuffed my face.

Both bags of chips are produced by Calbee, the Japanese company responsible for Snapea Crisps and the like. Sure enough, I found some interesting parallels between Calbee's re-de-fry-hydrated crisps and these chips. I do not like them. I also cannot seem to stop eating them.

The first bag—the one featuring the self-important potato running for political office—tasted like a poor man's sour cream and onion. Wipe that smug expression off your face, Mr. Potato. Your chip children are perfectly edible, possibly even verging on addictive, but hardly evocative of pizza.

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Bag number two, on the other hand, definitely had some pizza-reminiscent flavors going on. From the photo on the the package, not to mention the "Hot & Spicy" tag, it seemed clear(ish) that Calbee was looking to emulate a pepperoni pie. Sure enough, the chips had some punch to them. Barbecue notes had an undercurrent of tomato and the dusting of cheese product had me contemplatively nodding. In a blind taste test, would I have leapt to my feet and cried "Eureka! Pizza in a chip!"? No, probably not. But context, my friends, reigns supreme, and I am comfortable dubbing this bag pizza-ish, at the very least.

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Pretz is another Japanese product, owned by Ezaki Glico. If you've ever had the opportunity to enjoy Glico's Tomato Pretz, then these are probably right up your alley (if you haven't, you should definitely get on that ASAP). An informal office taste test yielded comparisons to a slew of Italian-style dishes, like chicken parm and mozzarella sticks dipped in sauce—pretty darn close to pizza if you're dealing with dry snack food. We'll declare Glico for the win in this round of Japanese-by-way-of-Hong-Kong-pizza-snacks-showdown.

Any other pizza snacks we should be trying?

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