I’m really not sure what I think of this idea. I like crisps, I like chocolate, but together..?
But they seem to be very popular in Japan, where you can buy a range of different variations on the theme, from cheap snacks in little tubs from the convenience stores, to expensive boxes from upmarket brands, to actual takeout portions freshly prepared at stalls in trendy shopping districts.
At the bottom end of the scale are Jaga Choco chips in small pots with a peel-off lid. They could be worse, but the chocolate is very poor quality and there isn’t really very much of it so the taste is predominantly potato with just a hint of chocolate.
A more polished product comes from Royce, a Hokkaido based confectionary firm that has been operating since 1983 and now has branches in 18 countries outside Japan. They offer chocolate covered potato chips in regular, caramel, and cheese flavoured white chocolate variations, all of which seem to be best sellers. The tagline on these products reads: ‘by breaking down old customs and producing consistently original items, we are pursuing a new level in chocolate enjoyment’.
Well, Hokkaido is famous for both its potatoes and dairy products, so I guess it makes sense to try putting them together. In this case, the chocolate is top quality and thick enough to hold its own against the potato. It’s still a bit of an odd combination for a western palate, but these are not unpleasant.
The best place to buy them is at Sapporo’s New Chitose airport, where there is also a Royce Chocolate World mini factory and museum as well as ample opportunity to shop.
Back in Tokyo, in particular on teen haven Takeshita dori, you can satisfy your craving for chocolate chips at several stalls where the hot crisps come topped with molten chocolate sauce and ice cream – but be prepared to queue!
Finally, also spotted in Japan (but left on the shelf…) not just crisps with a chocolate coating but shrimp flavoured potato sticks, from Calbee. This was simply a taste sensation too far!