16 Things That Taste Just Like My Asian American Childhood

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Nabisco? Hostess? Please, it’s all about Lotte, Glico and Calbee.

Growing up Asian-American, it was always hard not to feel just a little bit different from your peers, especially at lunchtime. While your classmates were knocking back Capri Suns and Dunkaroos, you’d be stuck drinking probiotic Yakult and eating Hello Panda crackers. But that’s okay, because trips to the Asian grocery store with your parents usually meant stopping by the toy counters out front and picking up the newest holographic Pokemon cards, which were always loads cooler than anything you’d find in a Cracker Jack box.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the top 16 Things That Taste Just Like Your Asian American Childhood. Mmm, just like mom used to pack.


1. Pocky, Yan Yan, Hello Panda


Never underestimate the simple joy of crunchy bread dipped in chocolate cream. Also available in Strawberry.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer


2. Lychee Jelly


These always came in giant buckets, but for some reason there were never enough. WHY WERE THERE NEVER ENOUGH?

Picthx Viet Wah


3. Shrimp-Flavored Chips


The Asian equivalent of gum (i.e., once you opened a pack, you could pretty much say goodbye to it forever).

(Notable mention: Snow Pea Crisps)

Picthx Amazon


4. Calpico, Ramune


For some reason, Japanese sodas were never content just being one color or flavor, and for some reason, the Strawberry one was always the best.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer, Sand Village Farm


5. Yakult


You had the inkling feeling this was supposed to be like liquid yogurt, but decided it was probably best not to ask too many questions.

Picthx Fechando O Ziper


6. Dry Ramen Packets


When you have built in crunchy noodles and built in seasoning, who needs chips? (Serving suggestion: crushed and shaken up in a zip-lock bag.)

Picthx Newgrounds


7. Haw Flakes


Admittedly these ones tasted kinda funny and you only ate them because your dad gave them to you, but at least tearing open the packs was always fun. Plus they kinda looked like fireworks.

Picthx Nummy Nims


8. Dry Seaweed


Perfect with or without rice.

Picthx Nourishing Meals


9. Tamarind and Coffee-Flavored Candies


Also available at most Asian restaurants (with the check, of course).

Picthx World of Snacks


10. White Rabbit


Two words: Edible. Paper.

Picthx Cafe Zupas


11. Boba


Admit it, you felt kinda cool when all your American friends started asking you to take them to get “bubble tea.”

Picthx Tasting Tampa


12. Rice-Seaweed Crackers, Wasabi Peas, Nagaraya Crackers


Picthx Hibiki, Nut Stop, Food Recap


13. Hi-Chew


Just like harder, chewier Starburst, except they also came in Melon and Mango, aka possibly the best Asian-inspired flavors ever.

Picthx David Wong


14. Asian Ice Pops


Hands down, 1 million times better than Otter Pops, just because they were a million times easier to open. Oh, snap.

Picthx Asian Food Grocer, Please Let It Be Friday


15. Orion Choco Pie


Picthx Old Delhi Mart


16. Pork Sung


Lastly, pork sung, which, despite all appearances, is really not hair. Really.

Picthx E Food Depot


Leader Image: Jordan Plenzich, Flickr

By Dominique Zamora

Dominique would be a foodie if she had money to pay for food. For now, she gets by just looking at food photography, which results in at least one more starving journalism student every time Instagram breaks down.

47 replies on “16 Things That Taste Just Like My Asian American Childhood”

And the first two people to comment aren’t asian american. =] But yes, I love all of these products. My girlfriend didn’t know about the lychee cups until last week when we were getting boba and they were selling them. So sad.

I’ve had all of these growing up and lots of Mexican candy. The lychee jelly eaten with the chile-coated dried mangoes were by far my favorite combination. Yakult on the side, thankyouverymuch. No summer was complete without these.

#13 is inaccurate. Hi-Chews have been in the American market for less than 10 years. The original Hi-Chews were written in Japanese and were wrapped in foil. Then again I guess if you are a 10 year old #13 would apply to you.

I bought Hi-Chew easily 15-20 years ago in the suburbs of Detroit. Don’t remember exactly when, but it was definitely in the early to mid-90’s. Especially since I haven’t lived in the Detroit area since ’97.

I had the HARDEST time wrapping my head around the edible paper for white rabbit candy. Even to this day (and I’m 27 now), I tear off the loose bits of paper first before I eat it. Great list though!

I had all the Chinese items when I was young like the haw flakes, white rabbit, pork sung (the tastiest hair). Though I had my first bubble tea when I was in my 20s. I didn’t have the Korean stuff until I met my wife. But they are missing this rice candy with edible wrapper that always came with a small toy in their box though later it became just a free sticker. Can’t remember its name since I haven’t eaten it in over 20 years.

I am very much amused by this article: my wife is Japanese, and we have or have had a great many of these products in our shopping bags coming away from Marukai or Mitsuwa! (Dried seaweed and wasabi peas are especially prevalent at our house.) But my favorite, hands down — and you didn’t even mention them — are the Kinjo Jelly Candies!

Traditionally, Asian American refers to people of Far East descent. Turkish American, Pakistani American, and other variants of the many nations of Asia tend to use a different nomenclature… Though whether correct or not, no one is really fit to decide. =)

“cool when all your American friends started asking you to take them to get “bubble tea.” – by American, perhaps you meant Caucasian. American doesn’t = non-Asian.

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