Foodie Childhood Memories – Crackers, Vanilla Creams, and Deb’s Favourite Chinese and Asian Candies and Snacks!

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I know going to the supermarket may not be up everyone’s alley (“do we have to go near the smelly fish tank?”; “why are people fighting over the corn over there?”; “why is this line-up moving so freakin’ slow?!”), but I bet you the one thing that gets everyone off their bums and into the store are the snacks!  A lot of us may be all grown up now, leading hectic lives with schedules all over the place.  But that doesn’t mean we forget the simplest pleasures in life.  For me, one of the most nostalgic, happy food pleasures is walking down the candy and snack aisles at the Chinese grocery store, or looking up at the dizzying array of sweets and crunchy munchies before me in the candy stores in Chinatown or in Pacific Mall, Market Village, and First Markham Place in Markham. 

I don’t go the Chinese grocery store as often as I used to.  For one thing, as I grew older, many of my weekends were spent staying at home doing homework as opposed to accompanying my parents during outings.  And for another, a lot of my childhood was centered around doing things with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle, so after my aunt and uncle moved to Australia and after my family and I moved further away from my grandparents, the time spent with them inevitably shrank.  And so did my time going to Chinese supermarkets.

A few weeks ago, I sat around pondering about a new series to introduce on the blog.  Something fun and something to ignite the childhood memories and experiences with food we all adored so much.  During a trip to Pacific Mall and Market Village, I thought, “why not do a Chinese and Asian candy and snack series?”  The idea got me all in a tizzy.  I hadn’t done anything like it on the blog yet, I knew a lot of people would enjoy it, and hell, it would give me and excuse to buy and eat all the snacks I used to love (and still love) so much!  We’re talking about the infamous Pocky, Hello Panda chocolate-filled biscuits, Yan-Yan, Hello Kitty candies, gummies, jellies, chocolates, crackers, and all that good stuff.

One of my earliest memories of eating Chinese snacks was from kindergarten.  My mum gave me these Bin-Bin rice crackers to take with me to school (I don’t have a photo of them right now, but Google them and you’ll see which ones I’m referring to) along with my Vita-Soy drink box, and Teddy Grahams – how’s that for east meets west?  I remember my dad picking up some fruit gummy snacks for me when I was 5 (the ones shown in the first photo) during his trips to pick up Chinese “copy books” for me at the convenience store (little books that helped me practise my handwriting), and I’ll always remember the yummy dry seaweed packs I’d eat during recess at school and the chocolate and strawberry Yan-Yans that were so fun to dunk and eat. 

I love the feeling I get looking at all these snacks I used to enjoy so much.  And that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy them now.  Sure, I’ll snatch up a little box of Pocky every once in awhile, or I’ll stop to quickly look at a few things while I’m passing by an aisle or store.  A few months ago I even tried the new mango Yan-Yan just for kicks!  But those isolated incidents are just that – isolated.  It isn’t until you fully immerse yourself in it again that you remember what a happy part of your life it used to be.  So I hunted down some of my favourites to share with you guys – and of course, stuff my face in!  I have plenty more where this came from, so we’ll start with two of my favourite snacks, one of which is savoury and the other, sweet.  Behold, the shrimp crackers and vanilla cream Collon biscuits!

Oh man.  These shrimp crackers are even better than most types of potato chips.  I know it’s a bit of a misnomer considering they don’t look like the typical rectangular, square, or circular cracker, but they’re a savoury snack that crunches just the same!  They look like little corkscrew fries and they melt in your mouth like butter.  Is the shrimp flavour really that pronounced?  Not really, but it’s subtle, it’s in there and damn, are these shrimp crackers ever good. 

And my vanilla cream Collon biscuits!  I don’t know if the manufacturers have just stopped shipping out as many, but these were a little harder to find which made me sad because I love them so much.  The vanilla ones are just slightly easier to get your hands on than other flavours like chocolate and the vanilla with chocolate varieties.  But they are amazing.  These are tiny vanilla cream filled wafers that are thimble-sized and look like little cyclindrical logs.  The outer layer is crunchy vanilla wafer while the inside is super smooth and creamy vanilla.  The filling tastes like frosting and if you think eating bar nuts or popcorn is bad once you get started, you need to eat these.  You will hug them.  And love them.  And want more.  I’ve been saving my box for a cozy, rainy, lounging-on-the-couch-watching-tv kind of day.  And whaddya know, this whole weekend is supposed to be rainy!  It looks like I have a yummy companion for the next few days – no promises that the box won’t be finished before Monday.          

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7 thoughts on “Foodie Childhood Memories – Crackers, Vanilla Creams, and Deb’s Favourite Chinese and Asian Candies and Snacks!

  1. Aiyiyi! In that picture of all those sweets (the one with the New! tag) right in the smack center of the picture are 3 different types of the popin’ cookin’ series!!
    Oh I sure hope you bought some of those! ;D

    • Hey there, thanks so much for visiting and commenting! 🙂 And gah, no, I didn’t end up buying anything when I took this photo and totally regret it, haha. I reeeally need to go back and pick up some stuff because there’s a ton that I want not only for myself, but for my brother too!

  2. These pictures are great! I love going to the Pacific Mall and Market Places! I’ve seen a few places that sell Popin Cookin they taste awesome. 😀

    • Hey there, thanks so much for visiting and leaving me a message! Oh my goodness, my best friend told me about the Popin Cookin sets and how her cousin’s wife and little ones love these things, haha! I’ve never tried them myself, but they sure are cute! There are so many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. snacks I want to try, just enough mouths!

  3. Hey there! I happened upon your page while looking for place in Toronto to buy Pocky and other awesome snacks, and I do say this is an amazing find! Is there anywhere you’d recommend to go to find wide arrays of Pocky and the like?

    • Hi Salisha, thanks so much for leaving me a message, that’s awesome that you found me! 🙂 Aside from Pacific Mall, Market Village and First Markham Place, I usually just amble up and down Chinatown around Dundas and Spadina to find snacks! There’s this great candy store on the 2nd floor of the Chinatown Centre mall on Spadina between Dundas and Queen St. West that has some great stuff though if you’re looking for a specific shop. The timing if your message is uncanny though as I was just thinking about Pocky and getting some green tea ones myself! I’ll let you know if I find other gems 🙂

      • I thought is was too, as I am having buckets of fun going through your blog ^_^ I did end up at Pacific mall a couple weeks ago but had surprisingly less selection that they used to have, though I still managed o walk out with a collection of snacks! I have never been to those places in Markham, any store name you could direct me to? I will deff have to check out Chinatown Center mall seeing as how Dragon city had none.I am please to know I’m not the only one with Pocky on the mind 😀 I swear I could buy buckets worth of them. I will be in Toronto tomorrow checking out some Asian supermarkets like PAT and T&T so wish me luck and I look forward to any other suggestions!

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