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Japan is like a parallel universe. Here in the land of the free, it’s customary to wash down a mouthful of Cool Ranch Doritos with a refreshing swig of Pepsi. In the land of the rising sun, you’ll find those same tasty snacks, but the corn chips could be anchovy-flavored, and that bottle of Pepsi might taste of spicy, bitter ginger.
We’ve cobbled together this list of Japanese-exclusive flavors of popular munchies. From squid ink–flavored ice cream to “man-scented” gum, some of these flavors really leave us scratching our heads.
KitKats are kind of a big deal in Japan. That’s right—those run-of-the-mill, chocolate-covered wafers you binge on during Halloween are a revered super-candy over there.
But the Japanese aren't satisfied with coating their biscuits in milk chocolate and calling it a day. No, KitKats in Japan come in a dizzying array of flavors.
Green tea, edamame soybean, wasabi, and red bean all sound like unsurprisingly Asian flavors, but then we get into some really weird stuff. Ginger Ale. Buttered Corn. Hot Chili Pepper.
And then there’s the KitKat Pizza. You probably never thought you’d ever see those two words together.
Aside from the rare occasions when PepsiCo tests the waters with new flavors like Holiday Spice, the familiar soda brand usually doesn’t venture far beyond regular and diet in America. Japan, however, has been blessed with multiple limited-edition variations.
There are Pepsi Pink and Pepsi White, which are strawberry milk– and yogurt-flavored, respectively. And we can see the appeal in Pepsi Strong Shot (extra caffeine and carbonation). Pepsi Ice Cucumber also sounds pretty decent.
But then there’s Pepsi Gold (ginger-root flavor), Pepsi Azuki Bean (red bean paste–flavored), Pepsi Baobab (monkey bread fruit?), and Pepsi Shiso (an herb). Pepsi brings one of these oddball flavors out every summer, so we can look forward to plenty more to come.
Doritos (and potato chips)
The craziest thing America has done with Doritos is make taco shells with them. Japan hasn’t crossed that line, but the iconic corn chips do come in some very interesting flavors over there.
Some of these actually seem like they’re worth trying; Who wouldn’t want fried chicken or steak Doritos? But then there’s crispy salmon and roe (fish eggs) with mayo, which we’re more hesitant about.
Seafood flavors do appear frequently in Asian snacks, so maybe we’re just culturally biased. But can we at least all agree that orange-flavored potato chips are gross?
Speaking of seafood, a surprising amount of it ends up in ice cream. Frozen treats can come in jellyfish, crab, shrimp, shark’s fin, whitebait, and fried oysters flavors in Japan, and that’s not even the most bizarre kind.
Ever wanted to try Indian curry ice cream? How about coal-flavored ice cream? Horse meat? Beer?
Then there’s this beautiful monument to gluttony: pizza in a cone. (Warning: Japanese.) Yes, it’s not technically ice cream, but it is glorious.
Chewing gum comes in pretty much every flavor you can think of, no matter which continent you’re on. But the weirdest kind to come out of Japan isn’t even this fruit-flavored gum riddled with spicy black peppercorns.
On the tamer side of things, there’s Black Black Gum, which contains caffeine and ginseng to perk you up, and No Time Gum, which has tiny granules that scrub your teeth as you chew.
And on the bizarre side, there’s “Man Smell” gum, a “Viagra” gum, and a gum that supposedly enhances breast size, shape, and tone.
Seriously, Japan: WTF?
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