Convenience stores have a special appeal, especially in Korea. As you step inside one of those clean, bright stores that stay open 24/7, hottest K-pop and the cashier’s apathetic greeting welcome you.
Convenience stores may not offer the best deal, but they make sure that the shelves are up to date all the time. No matter which part of the country you visit, convenience stores will offer the newest food trend of Korea on sight.
It is a recent trend among large scale convenience store chains in Korea, such as GS25, CU, and 7-Eleven, to produce private label products. In this 5 Items Available Only at Korean Convenience Stores series, we will explore some of the trendiest items available only at Korean convenience stores.
Earlier this year, Wednesday Food Talk invited insiders from snack industry to talk about history of Korean snacks. Throughout the hour-long episode, what surprised me the most was the fact that only 2-3 percent of the new products survive in the snack market in Korea. The market is dominated by decades-old classic snacks like Shrimp Cracker and Choco Pie, yielding only a tiny room for new snacks.
This means that you have to act fast to try freshly released snacks before they vanish. Fortunately, convenience stores in Korea do excellent jobs introducing new products all the time.
Here are some of the popular new snacks available only at Korean convenience stores!
1. Butter Caramel Pringles
Oh, pink Pringles! Cute! …Wait, butter caramel flavor? This snack is an outcome of endeavor to apply recent trend of Korean snack market, dan-jjan-dan-jjan, or “sweet-savory-sweet-savory,” which refers to the perfect combination of sweetness and saltiness (Chicago popcorn presents an ideal example of this). People who like this Pringles say that saltiness of Pringles and sweetness of caramel balance just well.
2. Sesame Oil and Seaweed Potato Chip
In Korea, people spread a thin layer of sesame oil and little bit of salt on seaweed. This potato chip takes this addictive banchan and remakes it as a savory snack.
3. Nougat Biscuit
This Taiwanese Nougat Biscuit is one of the most popular products among Korean tourists to Taiwan. Korean convenience store chain, CU, started selling this imported snack this month.
4. Kimchi Jjigae Potato Chip
You may be surprised to find a Kimchi Jjigae flavored potato chip, but what’s shocking about this product is not the taste, but the way people enjoys it. Just like how they enjoy Kimchi Jjigae with rice, people crunch this snack and mix with rice. Yes. Seriously.
5. Fried Chicken Snack
As much as they know how to fry their chicken, Koreans are obsessed with fried chicken days and nights. This gave birth to Crispy Chicken, a fried chicken flavored snack. Reviews say that is tastes like the skin of fried chicken.
By Heewon Kim