Walk down the snack aisle of any Asian supermarket and you’ll find a selection of bold, brightly colored packages wrapped snugly in multiple layers of plastic, splashed with equally bold fonts and eye-catching images of the snacks contained within. Many of the snacks at my local Asian supermarket are labeled in a language that I’m unfamiliar with—Chinese, Korean, or Japanese. As a result, I often rely on the English translations, which are often not 100% correct but informative and inadvertently hilarious all the same.
From mochi to wafer cookies to butter biscuits, the snack selection highlights a universal truth: the brighter the box, the more likely it is to be grabbed by hungry little hands with an abundance of energy. And energy is exactly what you need when you’re on the go with little ones by your side. This crunchy rice snack fits the bill, which is why it never fails to find its way into our grocery cart.
I discovered these brown rice rolls thanks to my mother, known in our family as the one who always has snacks in her pantry.
One afternoon when my kids and I visited her apartment, I was taken by surprise when she took out a little snack stick about four inches long and one inch in diameter with the number 99 printed on it, a stick big enough for several bites but small enough to fit snugly in the palm of a hand. My mother offered all three of us a stick.
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“Where’s the chips?” I jokingly asked. My mom is notorious for stocking up on Pringles, Lay’s, and Cheetos; she doesn’t eat them, but saves them for when people visit.
The chips were all gone, she replied, and this was what she had left. I opened the wrapper and took a bite. Immediately, I loved the roll’s sugarcane taste and satisfying crunch. The combination of grains, rice, and beans in the stick was surprisingly delicious, so much that I couldn’t stop at just one. Turns out, my kids felt the same way. Even my five-year-old, a very picky eater, loved them.
I felt like I had discovered a new treasure. Who knew that such a delicious snack was one we’d always walked right past at the grocery store?
Perhaps the best thing about this snack is its mysterious nature. There’s not much English on the package except for the number 99 and the specified flavor, plus a badge that says “DELICIOUS FOOD.” The rest of the package is labeled in traditional Chinese. But what it lacks in clarity, the snack makes up for in its taste. At about 60 calories per stick, this Taiwanese-made treat packs a ton of flavor and a nice energy boost into an unassuming package.
It comes in a variety of flavors, including Sesame, Pumpkin, Chocolate, Egg Roll, and my favorite, Taro. At less than $3 per 18-pack, these rolls are a surprisingly healthy, satisfying alternative to bags of snack chips when you’re on the go. Quick to grab and easy to store, it’s my family’s preferred snack for when we’re short on time, and a prime choice for my kindergartener’s classroom snacks. If you have picky eaters in your family, this is a very economical, all-around practical choice that might please them.