Tohato Bōkun Habanero Chips — munchies review
Posted on October 22, 2006 by Kris Nelson
Hot! Hot! Hot! Habaneros. Those adorable orange balls of fire that are 500x spicier than jalapeños (and what I love to chop into Sunday omelettes) have not only been officially recognized as the Guinness World Records hottest spice, they have also joined my Japanese Snack Hall of Fame. I absolutely adore spicy foods and have since grown immune to cayenne and the aforementioned wimpy jalapeños. That’s why Tohato’s Bōkun Habanero hits the spot. And that spot will sting for a while. They’re thin, crispy one inch diameter rings formed out of potato paste (like Pringles) generously powdered with habanero dust. It’s light and crunchy, not salty but oh so flavorful. If you’re a daring fan of feeling like your tongue’s on fire, you’ll marvel at these little loops.
Like most japanese goods, there is some strange story to sort of anthropomorphize the product. Bōkun Habanero means “Tyrant Habanero”, and he glares angrily from the package and into your tummy. There’s also a spicy mix with equally evil peanuts (Bōkun habapii) and a version of Mr. Pepper in his earlier years (Bōkun bebinero) which is a chili, chicken consomme and mayo blend. The mayo I understand because the Japanese are obsessed with the goop, but consomme? I guess he was more “pinkies up” in his youth. His sister has her own snack (Aishi no Bebiita), the familiar rings in a mixture of pork, chicken and vegetable flavors. No confirmation if she’s also a kinder gentler pepper or if she is also the megalomaniacal type.
Right now Tohato has released their limited edition “World Conquest” series, also dubbed elsewhere as “Terrorist Chips”, the most recent package features Bōkun Habanero with a turban on in India. The tagline has been translated jauntily as: “when you find at the store, perhaps that day end. Ahead of time.” Snack food to end all human existence? Ooh, scary stuff. Here are a few more cryptic messages from the twisted minds at Tohato: “[e]xciting it is harsh with the flame which blazes it expressed”, “so the development scenery where the teaching which is learned from violence of Tyrant Habanero is utilized will be inserted in viewing”, “which is prized harshly in the maniac.”
Tyrant Habanero wears many hats. Not only is he concerned with world domination, he is busy overseeing production and marketing of his chips. Last year he sold clever Habanero kits where consumers could grow about 100 peppers in 5 months. What a sneaky way to spawn his army! He also has enlisted human actors to promote his goodies, creating a Galaga-type video game for his official website as well as a live-action movie (pictured left). I can’t get enough of these habanero o’s and if today is the day that will “end ahead of time”, well at least I’ll be going to Bōkun Habanero’s spicy heaven.
*Vegan caveat – it contains hydrolyzed pork protein and chicken extract and has the aftertaste and consistency of crunchy beef fat. Oh yum.