There are many things to like about Octopus Flavored Tako Chips, made by our friends at Nongshim (“Taste NONGSHIM, Feel the Difference”) and available at H Mart. Most of those things involve the adorable anthropomorphic octopus on the bag:
- He is pink and cute;
- He has an open-ended cylindrical nose like Q*Bert;
- He has only six visible legs, making him a hexapus? He would not be the first;
- He is wearing a mask and snorkel, which is supercute but raises a few questions, like (a) why does a hexapus need a snorkel, and (b) why does anyone need a snorkel underwater,* and (c) what does the hexapus think of octopus-shaped,** octopus-flavored snack foods? Is he offended? Honored? Nonplussed? Is he a cannibal? Can’t tell from the bag, the snorkel and mask hide his expression and true intentions.
* bubbles are emerging from the snorkel, around the corner of the bag not pictured here, so we know we are down in the depths, rolling in the deep, with our friendly (?) pink hexapus
** the chips look more like Clyde, the orange ghost from Pac-Man, if he were wearing a girdle, slouching, and his mom accidentally bleached his sheet
Tako chips do not appear to be made from actual octopus (or from tacos)*; they are wheat-based. “Octopus flavor” is a listed ingredient, just behind whey powder and before paprika; I don’t know you get octopus flavor without extruding some octopus, but we get no details. Yellow corvina, a fish, is also an ingredient. I don’t think corvina tastes like octopus though. So many questions.
* “tako” is the Japanese word for octopus and has nothing to do with the Mexican taco, although I bet somewhere around here someone is making delicious grilled octopus tacos, or should I say tako tacos. Just to add to the confusion, there is an also-unrelated Peruvian dish called tacu tacu involving steak, rice, beans, plantain, and a fried egg, some fine examples of which can be obtained at multiple Wheaton Peruvian restaurants but none of which to my knowledge involve either tako or tacos.
What about the chips themselves? It is my scientific duty to taste this stuff. There is a hint of octopus, or at least the sea (or the H Mart fish counter), in the nose, although if I weren’t already thinking about it I probably wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint it. Mostly they just taste like bland, slightly salty wheat puffs. After an initial pleasing crunch they dissolve into nothing, like Pac-Man when he runs into Clyde. The tako chips might be a tolerable bar snack, paired with a crisp lager or pale ale. I won’t be craving them. But if I find out that Nongshim is giving away free plush pink snorkeling hexapi if you send them a dozen proofs-of-purchase, in that case, I would probably buy more bags.