Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Black Bean Paste Cheetos - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ

Black Bean Paste Cheetos - H-Mart: Cherry Hill, NJ

Yesterday was actually Black Day, and I totally missed the opportunity to post these! Oh well, at least I can post them now.

If any of you watch anime or read manga, you might have heard about White Day, which is a reactionary holiday to Valentine's Day. Typically, Valentine's Day in Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, is a holiday where men receive candy/chocolate from the women in their lives as a sign of friendship, appreciation, or love. One month later, on March 14th, there is a response-style holiday called White Day, where the men who received gifts on Valentine's Day return the favor and give candy and gifts (typically white chocolate) as a way of saying thank you (or returning their feelings and appreciation). Makes sense right? It's pretty straight forward, but what if you didn't get any gifts on either holiday? Well that is where Black Day comes in.

On Black Day, people who feel a little bitter about the last two months can wear black and eat black foods. It's basically what the same as "Singles Awareness Day" here in America, which is just a silly retaliation against Valentine's day that a few people post about on Facebook and celebrate with single friends. There's really not profound or deep meaning to the holiday itself, this is just another reason to have fun with a few friends and sell another themed food item to a group of people who might not of participated in the last two consumer based holidays.
The traditional dish (meaning the one advertized by companies for the holiday, because at the end of the day this is all created by marketing companies to get your monies), is a plate of noodles and veggies topped with a black bean-based sauce, called Jajangmyeon. Although I don't have a plate of that to review today, I do have these black bean paste flavored Cheetos, and that's just as good, right?

I saw these at H-Mart, which is a Korean market, and I honestly picked these up just because I couldn't figure out what flavor they were. I never even thought to tie this product into a holiday themed post or anything, but after looking around online for a few weeks, I couldn't find out anything about them. I was starting to worry, how old are these? Why are they not mentioned anywhere on the internet? Then I finally found someone else who posted about these, and then I saw H-mart's tweet reminding everyone of Black Day, and everything just fell into place.

The packaging is a smokey french-grey color with a repeating bulls-eye design. I don't really know what that pattern has to do with anything, but I like the added visual interest and you don't see this color too often in snack food packaging, so I'm really liking this change of pace. (It photographed really nicely too.) The rest of the design is typical for Cheetos, we have the logo, some kind of offer or information (I can't read it, but something is 15%, 15% more?), and there's the slightly creepy 3-D-ish Chester Cheetah. He's riding a skateboard and looking as "extreme" as ever, personally I prefer the flat 2-D version to this oddly 3-D one, but it's not too bad. I mean, we all know he could look at lot worse.

I opened the bag and inside the crunchy Cheetos are the same shape and size as the cheesy American version, only this time they are coated in a greyish brown flavor powder instead of bright artificial orange, and they smell sweet. I'm actually really surprised by how sweet these smell. It's not really like a sugary snack, more like caramelized onions. There's a bit of a BBQ aroma to these too, and a hint of black bean, it kind of smells like a plate of take-out stir-fry. It's not a bad aroma, but the intensity of the sweetness has me a bit worried.

I took a bite, and they taste just as sweet as they smelled, if not even sweeter. The crunchy Cheetos base seems to be the same corn-puff as it has always been, with the same fried texture, but that flavored coating is very sweet, a little barbeque-y, onion-y, and something else I can't quite put my finger on. I think this reminds me a bit of takoyaki sauce, but with a lot more sugar added in. These little snacks are way more sweet than they are savory, which isn't entirely off putting, but I can't eat too many of these in one sitting.

Overall I wouldn't say these are a bad snack, they are definitely unique and interesting, but I just don't understand why it's so sweet. Shouldn't they be a bit more bean-y and savory? I'll be nursing this bag for a while, and I can't say I'd buy these again if given the chance, but I don't regret buying them in the first place. I'd say they are worth trying if you have the opportunity, and I bet this would be a fun WTF-style snack to share with friends while hanging out, but due to their extreme sweetness, I can't see this being all that popular. Maybe that's why these were so hard to find online. (Or maybe I just had no idea where to look.) Would you try these if given the chance?
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