Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snacks to Cure Homesickness

Whenever I go back to the States, I make sure I bring plenty of snacks back, 'cause while I love Digestives and Hobnobs as much as the next person, nothing beats American snacks.  Nothing.  They're generally more creative, tastier and a whole heck of a lot unhealthier - just the way I like it.  Over the years, I've learned to pick and choose what to bring back though (don't ask John about the time I brought a Costco-sized bag of trail mix back as he was in charge of all the heavy lifting of the suitcase ... note to self: don't bring Costco-sized ANYTHING back).

A particular favourite of mine are Trader Joe's Cheese Crunchies which are like Cheetos, but so much better.  I'm glad they didn't get crushed in my already oversized/overweight/overeverything/filled-to-the-brim suitcase of goodies.  Here's a list of other must-haves I brought back this time:

1) Crystal Light - my BFF Udita raves about these all the time, but I didn't get it till I drank a leftover tub during my trip back home.  This stuff is amazing.  One little tub makes TWO quarts!  And one thing I crave the most when I'm in the UK is iced tea of any variety.  They don't seem to have discovered Snapple here yet.

2) Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate - looking for good, high quality hot chocolate that doesn't require milk but simply hot water?  This is your best bet and one of my winter favourites.  The marshmallow one isn't that great, but try "Rich Chocolate."  The "Milk Chocolate" was only $1.00 per pack at Wal-Mart.  I brought two back. 

3) Pop-Tarts - now, I am sure they do Pop-Tarts in the UK ... just boring flavored ones.  I prefer "Smores" or "Cinnamon".  Always reminds me of grabbing one and running out of the house in the mornings during my high school days and eating and driving at the same time.  Oops. 

4) Pretzel Flipz - at one point, I brought so many of these back to London (Albertson's was doing a 10 for $10 deal) I got sick of them.  But nothing beats sweet and salty.  Why haven't Brits done this???  When I shared them with my co-workers they were slightly disgusted but also intrigued.  "Sweet and savoury combined?  Eww!"  By the end of the day, I had total converts.

5) Apple chips - all you get here in the UK is dried boring fruit when you're looking for an "alternative" snack.  What they need to do is Americanize it by dumping a load of sugar and preservatives in it and giving it a healthy dose of cinnamon.  And voila - apple chips!  I couldn't find any apple chips this time but came back with two bagfuls of Trader Joe's Apple Clusters.  They're even better because the crunch is sublimely satisfying.

6) Jelly Belly jellybeans - ok, I know you can get them here, but they're like £10 per 20 jellybeans (I exaggerate, but it's something like that!) at Topshop.  I especially enjoy going to Fred Meyer and using the dispensers there to do my own mix and match.  A lot of people hate it but my favorite flavor is Buttered Popcorn.  I keep a stash of these in my work desk drawer to lift my spirits when I'm feeling a bit bogged down by the British workday (which is a bit difficult, compared to the slave-driving American workplace antics).

7) Japanese Rice Crackers (Want Want) - one thing London and/or any other city in the UK lacks is a giant, warehouse-like Asian mega-store.  You get a lot of those in Washington state.  A chain my family often visits is the Ranch 99 Asian Market, located in Kent, Washington.  It's a bit of a trek from our house but I stock up on my favorite Chinese/Asian snacks here.  These rice crackers are amazing.  They're not sweet, not savory - there's just no way to describe them.  And they come in little packs of two which make them perfect to throw in your bag and have later as a snack with miso soup ... which brings me to the next item on my list ...

8) Oriental Chef Miso Soup Mix - sometimes when I'm hungry mid-morning at work or want a late night snack that's not too filling, I reach for this miso soup packet.  It's not a powder, but a paste, with a separate sachet of dried spinach and tofu.  It tastes wonderful in a mug and is filling enough as a snack.  I always have to buy at least two packs of the white and red paste mix when I'm at Ranch 99.

9) Reese's Peanut Butter cups - so I'm not a fan of these.  But my friends are, so I bring some back for them, although apparently you can buy them at Tesco now.  In general I think Americans try to add peanut butter to everything - cookies, Dairy Queen blizzards, etc.  Peanut butter and chocolate is not a bad idea though, I must admit.

10) Yan Yan - jumping back to Asian snacks ... Yan Yan is one of my favorite Asian snacks.  It looks like this when opened and you dip the biscuit sticks into chocolate/strawberry icing.  Yummy.  Sometimes I buy a whole pallet when I go to Ranch, which makes the cashier gawk. 


  1. o gosh; love pretzel flips... :D and good ol' trail mix with chocolate chips!

    x Joy


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