Have you ever noticed how people will sometimes willingly ingest food they know they don't want all because of the way it's presented? Think about it. Do people who eat sushi really like raw fish? Eh eh - you cover the tiny piece of fishyness up with rice and vegetables and dip it in soy sauce. In effect, you do everything in your power to avoid tasting the fish. So why do people like to eat it? Because it looks fun!
But you don't have to climb that high up the ladder of Japanese cuisine to see what I'm talking about. How many of you would balk at the opportunity to eat one of those economy boxes of what's definitely Cheerios, only called something else entirely. You'll convince yourself that you need official Cheerios, but when it all boils down, it's all the same stupid cereal that needs sugar thrown on top of it.
Just look at little kids. To get them to eat yogurt, you have to shape the container like an ice cream cone and color it so vividly that it's impossible to look at without going blind. To get them to eat chicken, Purdue has to use star-shaped cookie cutters on it. It's all in the packaging and how it's presented.
So today I'm at the store, and something catches my eye. I knew I had heard of this food before, but it's kind of like just 'hearing' about the Loch Ness Monster. You can never truly prepare yourself for the actual meeting in-person. Feverishly, and against all better judgement, I snatched up two of these elusive items and ran home. Mistake number one was buying them. Mistake number two was trying to eat them. What pretty package deluded me? What was this mystery food?
Resistance was pretty much a futile gesture here. I wasn't completely convinced that I was going to eat this in the two seconds I took to review what was in it - a 'snack' that somehow combines the powers of chocolate syrup and sesame sticks into one hedonistic display - ...but I was pretty sure I wouldn't regret spending a buck fifty on a package that looked this cool.
Trying to comprehend what Yan Yan actually was when I got home was an entirely different task. The first strike against me was a clear warning on the package to keep these things refridgerated. They were sitting in broad sunlight at the store. So on the off-chance that Yan Yan turned out to be something wonderful, it surely would've been spoiled by now.
Secondly, I took a look at what this food actually was. Sesame seed sticks that are dipped in what appears to be half-melted chocolate or strawberry cream. In haste I picked up both flavors, which brought up another interesting point: the strawberry cream version comes with a disclaimer stating that it doesn't contain pig fat. The chocolate variety, on the other hand...does not. So now I was facing a dooming question: do I negate a lifelong vow to avoid ingesting pig fat at all costs, or do I sacrifice my promise to see which flavor works the worst when combined with sesame sticks? Again, not an easy one to figure out.
So, it was time to do a little research. After eating that hair removal cream, I've learned my lesson. The company's name who graces us with Yan Yan is Meiji, and upon a little investigating, it seems like Yan Yan is their most normal contribution to society. Take a look...
Meiji Karl! And you thought the spokespersons of our junk foods were spuriously rebellious? You haven't seen anything until you've met Karl - a guy who tries to convince you to buy his corn snacks with pictures of him and a frog, surfing and blowing horns. It's an obvious effort to disarm your senses, which is a necessary evil when you consider some of the flavors: light salt and curry. In the final variation of the hot snack, Karl simply throws corn at you.
Meigi Meltykiss! It might not look like much, but this one packs a punch. Meltykiss is the first seasonal candy - all the online stores I found carrying this glorious combination of chocolate and fish came with a disheartening warning that Meltykiss literally melts under natural light. But check out the transcribed description: 'I think my good friend Terue said it best when she heard we'd be carrying Meltykiss: "Wow, wow, wow! Meltykiss?!!! It's good, good, good! I love it!" I can think of no better way to describe this absolutely flawless chocolate snack. HIGHLY ADDICTIVE. These far outweigh the power of Dove and Godiva chocolate. They are BEYOND good! I cannot recommend them enough. These amazing cubes of chocolate are lightly coated in cocoa powder adding an interesting texture before you sink your teeth into the smoothest substance ever to grace this snack shop!'
While Meiji Karl's corn snacks and these Meltykisses are 'highly addictive' and 'satisfaction bringing', nothing can compare to Meiji's latest and greatest endeavor, Pucca!
Like Yan Yan, Pucca seeks to boldly go where no snack has gone before. A food that somehow combines chocolate, pretzels, and strawberries. Shaped like fish. An interesing combo, and I've read that it tastes 'maximum good', but unfortunately, the store I went to didn't have Pucca. Or Karl or the Meltykisses. They only had Yan Yan...gift from gods boasting extra tasty. With that, let's take a look at all the dynamic elements and steps one goes through when choosing to indulge in a snack that requires assembly...afterwards, you can by the judge and decide if Yan Yan is the right choice for you.
The picture on the package was a bit misleading, as the chocolate end of this 'choco snack' was anything but syrup. I'm not going to liken it to what it actually reminds me of, but let's just say it's not high up there on the visions that make me hungry. I was also dissapointed to find out another lie...
The sesame stick on the package is clearly yelling about how he includes roasted sesame. There's no seeds! They're just regular sticks! Regular sticks! I overlooked this horrible display and tried one of 'em out. The results, honestly, weren't as bad as you'd think. I wouldn't go as far to say that they're completely inedible, but I am sitting here now washing out my mouth with rubbing alcohol. Now, this might just be because the store ignored that whole allegly optional 'please refridgerate' plea on the package...when you eat Yan Yan, it may very well be the greatest thing you've ever tasted. I can only go by my experience, and my experience says that I can taste the pig fat.
While the chocolate didn't particular have me begging for more, the strawberry cream certainly had me begging. For death.
I don't care if you're the biggest fan of strawberries on the planet, the stench that omits from this thing upon breaking the seal will completely destroy you. The 'cream' looks more like lavender dishwasher soap, and smells like it's comprised solely of rotting mouse corpses and rancid fruit.
The consistency of the cream wasn't helping any, either. Unlike the chocolate version, this one didn't contain any pig fat. But that's not necessarily a good thing, since it looks like it contains far worse. I hadn't even tasted the shit yet, and already I was feeling sick.
I decided there's no possible way this strawberry Yan Yan was going into my mouth while I could actually see it, so I used the goopy crap to blind my eyes. Then I went against all higher brain function and put the crap in my mouth.
Now, I know Yan Yan is an ethnic snack, and might not be available in your area. But don't worry - just go to your nearest pet shop and start licking the bottom of the bird cages for the same effect. I'm the type of person who'll take a 50 dollar bet to drink a glass of puddle water, but this really was stretching to the outer limits. In a panic, I checked out the ingredients to find out how anything could possibly taste this bad.
Unfortunately, the only ingredients I could decipher were 'cheddar cheese' and 'canola oil'. The rest were all chemical terms, but I'm pretty sure their real life definitions all equate to different ways of saying 'feces'. Enough was enough.
Like a bat out of Hell, I darted into the backyard to conceal the evidence that something so hideous could even exist, much less be meant for eating. It was time for Yan Yan's burial. Feverishly, I desperately tried to use all of my strength to carve a hole deeper than two inches...and in it went! Hopefully, by god, nobody else would have to suffer such a severe fate.
Since I was already out there digging holes, I figured this would be an excellent time to finally shed any evidence that I owned Tony Robbins' informercial video and a collection of Blondie albums.
So here's the final breakdown on Yan Yan:
Packaging: Fun. Almost too fun. The cylinder...the mysterious syrup...all too cute to resist. Which is almost a crime considering what'll happen if you're sucked in by it. But we cannot tell a lie - packaging gets two thumbs up.
Edibility: I've tasted worse, but I also used to eat glue and construction paper. If you avoid the slime portion and just eat the sesame sticks, you won't die. If you go for the full effect, you might. I'm going to give this a 'thumbs in the middle' only because I can appreciate the fact that whomever dreamt up this taste treat must've been under the influence of heavy hallucinogenics.
Durability: Two thumbs up. It was harder to dig that hole than it was to dig the sesame sticks into the 'syrup'.
1-10 Overall Grade: I'm gonna give it a '5'. I can't give it any higher than that because I almost died eating it and all, but it's not without it's merit. Think of the conversations you could have late in the day when people ask you what you had for breakfast. You'll be the life of the party once.