One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to explore the local grocery store. While this is usually more interesting when traveling abroad, I’ve sometimes been equally amused by wandering around domestic stores, especially independent ones. Possibly the best part of this activity is finding interesting flavors of familiar brands. For example, I spent $25 at the Tokyo airport on KitKats because of the crazy flavors – green tea, apple, cheesecake, soy flour, wasabi, and soy sauce. (The latter two were not actually as disgusting as they sound – there was no chocolate involved – it was a wasabi-flavor coating or a soy sauce-flavor coating over some wafers. And the soy sauce one didn’t taste anything like soy sauce. It was a unique experience, but one I don’t need to repeat.)
Anyway, it took me a day or two to locate an actual grocery store when I first moved to Singapore, as I was living downtown and my roommate only knew about the nearby expat grocery store. So when I trekked out to the Clementi Fairprice (a good 20-minute train ride from where I was staying at the time, but I had other business in Clementi…namely trying barbequed stingray), I took my time walking slowly up and down every aisle looking at every item. But I didn’t really find anything worth writing home about. (Except perhaps canned pumpkin, although a more recent trip revealed they no longer have any.)
No, I did not find that item until today. And ironically, I don’t think it’s Singaporean – or even Asian – I think it’s American.
Pringles, is after all, owned by Procter and Gamble, an American company. That being said, you find flavors overseas that we don’t get in the States. In Malawi, I discovered Pringles “Rice Infusion Sweet BBQ Sparerib Flavour” and Pringles “Gourmet Flame Grilled Steak and Caramelized Onion Flavour” I am currently wondering why I did not buy these to try them…
On that first trip to a Singaporean grocery store, I did notice three such flavors: grilled shrimp, soft-shelled crab, and seaweed. I was amused, but they didn’t strike me as that strange. Shrimp-flavoured chips/crackers, while seemingly bizarre when I first encountered them at Epcot at a young age, are quite common in Asia, and a “Prawn Cocktail” Pringles flavor is even available in the UK. Soft-shelled crab seemed to be an extension of that theme. And dried seaweed is a popular snack, so why not make it into a chip flavor? The most unusual thing was their color: the shrimp ones are pink and the seaweed ones are green.
I never got around to actually trying the flavors, until I took some home with me over Christmas to share with other people. Today, however, I found a flavor that was so bizarre, I bought it immediately and opened it as soon as I had paid. I give you:
The other new flavor is Lemon and Sesame, which I find about as bizarre (and consequently intriguing) – I may have to go back tomorrow to buy them. But, really? Who came up with these?
When I got home, I googled them. The only thing that came up was someone from DC who had recently proclaimed on Twitter his surprise about these flavors, which leads me to believe they may be in your local grocery store as well. That would make some sense, as blueberries are not exactly a Southeast Asian fruit.
I’m still not over the combination. I can think of several tasty ways to mix fruits and nuts - dried cherries/cranberries and almonds in a trail mix, grape jelly and peanut butter in a sandwich – but I don’t think I’ve ever seen blueberry and hazelnut paired together, least of all in a potato chip. What’s next, watermelon and macadamia? Strawberry and brazil nut? Lychee and cashew?
So, what are they like? I can taste the blueberry, and if I concentrate intently I get a hint of hazelnut, followed by a blueberry finish. But as I walked home munching, I decided that I was probably only recognizing these flavors because of the container, and in a blind taste-test I’d have no idea what Pringle flavor I was eating. I decided to test this hypothesis on my roommate – she said it tasted like confetti cake.
I have now consumed half the can in the name of research (once you pop, the fun don’t stop!), so I’m hoping they’re not subject to the Pringles recall that was just issued…thankfully it appears to be just the cheeseburger and taco flavors.