Review: Mammoth Meat: Seared BBQ Flavour, from Tohato

Mammoth Meat: Seared BBQ Flavour, From Tohato 
マンモスの肉! ? , 東ハト
Purchased: June 2011
Best Before: January 24, 2011
Review: July 2011

It can be a very long time before even the most popular snack foods of Japan wind their way to North American shores. Case in point: MAMMOTH MEAT, a product that is no longer listed on the manufacturers website. They’ve got a sort of upgrade flavour, shaped like actual meat on a bone, as opposed to the coiled cinammon bun/cartoon poop shape (depending on how courteous you wanna be) that populates the snacks in front of me.

I picked this up late last month at one of the candy/snack stores that dot the Asian import malls north of Toronto. The importer’s sticker covered up the best before date, and considering that the importer’s sticker was for another product entirely I’m wondering if I should suspect some sort of shenangans. Nevertheless, I’m so very glad I got to buy something with packaging this awesome. Will I be as glad that I tasted it? Let’s find out.

Packaging: Wow. This should win some sort of award for best use of graphics or something. The whole front of the bag is a superdeformed caveman face eating meat. It is bright orange, and the meat is huge. There is a photographic representation of whats inside. Even with no English on the package at all, you can tell that this is a meat-flavoured snack, probably going well with biru.

Smell: I didn’t get a great meaty whiff off of these when I cracked open the bag, but that could be down to the staleness of the product. I did get a sort of a burnt barbecue smell, which is what I think they’re going for actually. A little smoke, a little bbq sauce, a little stale. Not off-putting, anyway.

Taste: Pretty good, actually! I’ve long been a fan of meat flavoured snacks–I remember the beautiful day when hostess introduced both ‘roast-chicken’ and ‘fries with gravy’ flavours of potato chips, and while meat-flavoured snack foods may have fallen somewhat out of favour (bless Doritos for trying though), this would fill the gap nicely. It’s not particularly spicy, but it is well spiced with a bunch of different barbecue flavours leaping out at you. I find a lot of commercial barbecue potato chips to be one-note, and this has got 3 or 4 different flavours going on, sweet, tangy, a little of that smoke. It’s more like barbecue sauce, than barbecue chips, if that makes sense?Anyone equating barbecue flavoured snacks with heat is going to be very disappointed though–there’s no heat here at all.

These appear to be a puffed corn (rather than puffed rice) snack, liberally coated with seasoning powder. The snacks are really light to pick up, and feel just a touch like styrofoam at first. The size of them is notable too, they’re 1 3/4″ across, and 3/4″ thick in the center–each bite is meant to be a mouthful and it’s got a great big crunch when you bite down into it. It’s a well-conceived product, going with the giant meat on the package, the giant snack feels really satisfying. I bet it would’ve been even tastier 7-12 months ago.

The aftertaste, like even the most savoury of Japanese snacks, has a bit too much sweetness for my taste. It actually brought out the sweetness in my otherwise very bitter beer!

Verdict: You know, I was right, it DOES go well with beer, so long as you want to drastically affect the flavour of the beer in your mouth.

Despite knowing what I know about the best before date on this bag, I’ll probably finish it later tonight while surfing the web, and that’s a pretty ringing endorsement. I’d also definitely want to try the product that replaced this one, Tohato’s new MAMMOTH MEAT concoction next time I’m in Japan, as I don’t think I’m going to risk checking it out on the shelves of Toronto if I can’t see the date on it.

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