vending machines and an origin story

unsnackable vol. 1

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Folu

Sep 13 2020

4 min read

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I was in elementary school when I first tried to understand what makes the perfect snack. My parents had two vending machines, one for snacks and one for pop, installed at my dad's office. He refilled the machines every Saturday and brought me along because my little hands were perfect for emptying the change and refilling the rows. I usually got to steal some of whatever wasn't selling well so it was a perfect arrangement. I found this great photo of young, treat motivated Folu

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Soon I realized that my dad was stocking the machines with snacks he loved but no one else cared about. I would not do manual labor to be rewarded with a Salted Nut Roll. Quite possibly the most cursed candy bar to come out of Minnesota

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I begged my dad to let me pick some snacks and honed my instincts to figure out what would sell. It worked but didn't matter because vending machines are a terrible investment unless you have dozens of them. My parents sold the machines a few years later.

an origin story

My status as a lifelong snack obsessive is probably why I pivoted to a research-intensive appreciation for limited edition snacks and beverages. I'm not just going to the store and browsing the aisles to bring you my picks in this newsletter, I'm reading Portuguese trade journals and following Latvian snack bloggers. 

I'll feature four categories of unattainable snacks from around the world- sweet, savory, thirsty and boozy without trying them, and with as much of an explanation as google translate will allow me to give. And I’ll publish this… on a weekly basis if my quarantine brain allows me a spare drop of productivity/serotonin (lol)


the unsnackables


sweet

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Convenience stores in Japan (aka Konbini) are a snack utopia. They're filled with fresh, flavorful, and affordable food made to serve the tastes of people both young and old. CHEEMFUL comes from Lawson, one of the largest chains of convenience stores. It is a soft waffle wrapped around a cream cheese whipped cream with a cream cheese souffle/pudding in the middle. I've thought about it every day for a month because I saw so many translations say it has a strong flavor of “rare cheese.” What is life if not a reason to indulge in rare cheese? Even if in this case “rare cheese” refers to the flavor of no-bake gelatin-set Japanese cheesecakes that often include lemon.

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It is hard to summon strong feelings about Skittles because they are good, but they are just sorta there. These are "Fruit Cinnamon" skittles from Russia and they're exciting because cinnamon is such a powerful complement to fruity flavors. The flavors in the pack are apple-cinnamon, cherry-cinnamon, lemon-cinnamon, orange-cinnamon and black currant-cinnamon. One of the greatest weaknesses of the American flavor landscape is our lack of black currant.


savory

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I heard about the KFC Lays and was curious but not impressed because chicken-flavored snacks aren't too hard to find. After more digging, I discovered another flavor in the KFC x Lays collab, Wingz Zabb. Wingz Zabb seems to be a spicy, sweet, and sour flavor, so yeah, this probably bangs severely.


thirsty

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You know a snack is intriguing when it forces you to spiral into researching Brazilian memes to understand why a fast-food chain is advertising a product on the national Day of Sex. Turns out Brazilians eat Halls (yes, the same ones that are cough drops here in America) like candy, and the minty menthol sensation adds some flavor to (redacted activities). I want to try the sexy cough drop flavored shake.


boozy

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Jiangxiaobai is a brand of Baijiu, a white spirit made from sorghum, rice, and other types of grain. While I've tried Baijiu once (in a cocktail so that barely counts), I wish I knew more about it because it is the most popular spirit in the world and millions of people can’t be wrong. Unfortunately, every Baijiu overview I found when I was writing this managed to be both dismissive and racist ( a true famine of context) so this is just to say I am curious about how the widely varied flavors of Baijiu would translate into pocky.



I’m still figuring this out, but hopefully, you enjoyed v.1 of unsnackable.

If you didn’t please don’t tell me, tell your friends to subscribe because they hopefully have better taste than you.


Think you’ll miss me before unsnackable v.2 comes to your inbox? follow me on other parts of the internet and tell me about what you’re snacking on or if you know any good reads about Baijiu

@notfolu on insta

@notfolu on twitter

I’ll try any snack at least once, so don’t be shy if there is something you want to send me to try.

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