It seems like every few years a “Flavor Wave” overtakes South Korea and this year is no exception. Last year was the introduction of Honey Butter Chips that became a national sensation. People were bribing store clerks to hold back a bag or two, students got into fights for not sharing their sacred bag, and girlfriends nationwide began to demand HBC instead of chocolates and flowers as a display of true affection. While none of these same events are happening this year (thankfully) there is a single artificial flavor profile that is being dumped, lathered, and sprayed all over every food and drink imaginable: banana.
A friend of ours pointed out this strangely escalating trend to us and we shrugged it off, imagining that, more accurately, she was exaggerating a few things that she’d seen. Contrary to popular Hedger beliefs, we started to notice more and more yellow packages with banana flavoring everywhere we went. Soon we realized that she was correct: South Korea was being slowly overtaken by cheap imitations of my favorite superfruit. Sure, bananas are delicious, but there’s a reason everyone eats around the yellow curved fruit in a bag of Runts: banana flavoring is, in general, absolutely horrendous and inhumane.
Since moving to Korea we’ve been wrong about several foods for a variety of reasons (smell, knowledge of ingredients, texture) but we decided that we needed to investigate this insurgence of “yellow flavor” to make sure that it wasn’t some surprise genius we were discounting. With brave hearts and apprehensive stomachs, we visited a few stores and convenience stores to stock up on as many banana flavored foods, snacks, and drinks as possible. As one might expect, there were highs and lows in this food tasting, and lot more lows. Honestly, I’m not willing to relent on how terrible many of the snacks were. I’m bitter and my stomach is just now getting over the injustice I put it through.