The Snackening – our snacks are evolving

I was inspired to write this after coming across a unique entity the other day whilst browsing for chips and crackers one peckish afternoon. But before we talk about the entity, let’s talk about the gallery of snacks Malaysia is known for. Growing up, we are amazed at the many types of snacks we find in stores. A Petronas Mesra can be small and still be able to assemble an array of snacks, from Twisties, Pringles and Cottage Fries to the severely underrated Miaow Miaows, there’s one for everyone, you name it.

However, as many brands and flavours there were in stores, the choices were often limited and predictable. No matter the brand of crackers, you know it as a certainty that they will not stray far from the cheeses, sour cream and onions, barbeques and good ol’ original salted. Now, this isn’t an attack on those tried and tested flavours. If anything, these familiar tastes serve as a foolproof strategy to get you to buy said snacks; you know how good hot and spicy flavour is, why wouldn’t you get it?

Be that as it may, after years and years of consumption (reasonably I hope, these are junk food we are talking about), it is harder to get excited about the same cheese flavour you’ve seen and had for the past 10-20 years. You still buy it, sure, but without the same excitement and expectation as you would a new flavour. My trips overseas, particularly to Japan brought to light the boredom I was experiencing with the same flavour of snacks. There, while you do find the same classic flavours of snacks, they go the extra mile and innovate their snacks sometimes even beyond comprehension.

Seeing Japanese plum flavoured potato chips next to the safe but predictable barbeque potato chips had me not only scratching my head but also very excited. I never knew it was possible to make potato chips taste like Japanese plum, but there it was before my eyes. My disbelief was stretched even thinner as I saw more ridiculous flavours like gyoza (dumplings) and french salad. This got me thinking if there ever will be a time where Malaysia would incorporate our own trademark dishes as flavours for snacks. Imagine rendang flavoured potato chips or crackers that taste like rojak, what a sight those would be. Of course, at that time I only thought about it jest; I thought there was no way we would see a, say, Kaya Butter Toast flavoured Twisties.

How wrong I was.

Photo: Twisties Kaya Butter Toast spotted at a certain convenience store

Twisties Kaya Butter Toast wasn’t my first rodeo. I had recently noticed that there was an increase of not-so-normal flavoured potato chips during my visits to convenience stores. Being a customer who relishes every opportunity to test out new inventions, I never let these curious inventions go unsampled. Leading up to this, I had recently purchased and tried the 7 Eleven exclusive Ice Lemon Tea Corntoz, which had me wondering if science had gone too far as it tasted exactly like eating Ice Lemon Tea in the form of a cracker. The more important point, however, was that there has been a shift in the innovation of snacks. We now see a departure from safer flavours and the appearance of more daring and dare I say crazy inventions such as Sichuan beef flavoured Pringles, Honey Chicken flavoured Mr Potato and the aforementioned Twisties Kaya Butter Toast.

I don’t know exactly what spurred this change other than globalisation reaching the next stage, but we see this trend happening across the food industry in general, albeit in slower progression. There has been an assimilation of traditional and standard Malaysian dishes integrating with all kinds of foods, such as Bandung and Pudding Raja Doughnuts by Krispy Kreme recently. These daring innovation only brings a smile to my face, as not only will we see new and possibly unheard of combinations, but it also makes me a little proud that we’re confident enough that Malaysian flavours can do well not only in their natural habitat but also in the form of snacks and doughnuts, among others.

Going back to the mysterious Twisties Kaya Butter Toast, it is currently sitting nicely on my desk, waiting for the day I crack it open and have my bearings challenged while I once again ponder whether science has indeed gone too far. Eventually, I will taste it and might find it delicious or not. Here I say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. After all, how often would you get to say, “Did you have that weird Twisties Kaya Butter Toast? It was something”.

Hartwick is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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Author: Hartwick

Eats chicken soup for the soul on a daily basis