Japanese Snack Food Review: Hokkaido Butter Pretz

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Once again I remind people that I can not read Japanese but more importantly, for this review, is that I’ve never been to Japan or studied the culture in any real depth. Hence, when I can not find information on Hokkaido butter through Googling or Ask.com-ing, I am at a loss. BTW, despite Ask.com’s whole promotional “We’re better than Google!” deal, they pulled up exACTly the same sites as Google did and yet Ask.com does not possess the fun little colored oooooooos at the bottom of the page. Ergo, the official search engine of the JSFR is Google.

What I did find was that about three billion people have tried Hokkaido Butter Pretz and loved them. And also, Hokkaido is the island that has all the cows and produces most of Japan’s dairy products. And AND and, Hokkaido Dairy Peoples Inc. (loosely remembered as such) produces 30% of Japan’s butter while snow boarding dairy company (much more loosely remembered as such) produces the rest. All this is well and good, but I can’t find out if Hokkaido Butter is a sweet cream butter, a salted butter, a savory butter, a whole collection of butters, or an alien derived butter. The most information I could find out is that Hokkaido Butter is considered the best butter of Japan. I suspect that if I was deeply immersed in the culture that Hokkaido Butter would mean something more to me than it currently does.

All this just to say that when I read butter Pretz I was expecting a buttery tasting snack stick, something like a club cracker or a Ritz. What I wound up with was a Pretz that tasted like Kettle corn. For those of you not in the know about Kettle corn, it is a slightly sweet, vaguely caramelly popcorn. If regular old buttered pop corn sat at a 1 on the popcorn sweet scale and caramel corn sat on a 10, Kettle corn would be somewhere around a 4. If you let Hokkaido Pretz sit on the same scale, it’d probably settle down right behind Kettle Corn at around 3.5.

Speaking of popcorn, Hokkaido Pretz smell amazingly like popcorn for something that isn’t corn based, popped or served regularly at a movie theater. Why? Is it that butter snacky sticks and popped buttered corn share the same butter pheromones or does Gilco use the same stuff to coat their Pretz that movie theaters use to coat their popcorn? I don’t know but it was a rather surprising smell to be coming out of a buttered stickish snack thing. Not a bad smell, but I wasn’t expecting popcorn.

Other features of the Hokkaido Butter Pretz are the universal Pretz crunchity – plus pea points for the crunchity! – and a prominently sweet buttery taste followed by a salty chaser. I’m not sure I’m on board with the sweet as it took me by surprise and not in an entirely pleasant way. However, I’m ALL about the buttery and the salty because they are both spot on for delightful snackage. Then again, Hokkaido Butter might be a culturally accepted sweet thing and a thousand Japanese just spat on my grave and the graves of all my ancestors for dissing the Hokkaido Sweet.

For those of you with a western palate for savory snack sticks, you will probably want to try any other of the Pretz reviewed here so far (save Maple and Butter Pretz). Those of you who like your snackage on the sweet side might enjoy the Hokkaido Butter Pretz, but frankly I think the Maple and Butter Pretz did sweet more justice. Still, Hokkaido Butter Pretz are tasty and snackable enough to get a

Rating

of 3.5 Wasabi Pea out of a possible 5.

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