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The Popping Corn Chips That Crunch Better Than Bugles and Taste Better Than Doritos
On Lotte's Popping Corn Chips and Lee Young-ji's "Hate Me"
The first-ever Snack and Destroy March Madness bracket is going on right now! The Final Four have been chosen — it’s “Cherry Pie” by Warrant vs. “Starfish and Coffee” by Prince and “Buttered Popcorn” by The Supremes vs. “Bar-B-Q” by Wendy Rene. Which song will be crowned The Greatest Food Song of All Time? Go vote for your favorites here!
Lotte’s Popping Corn Chips
It was the word “popping” on the bag that first grabbed my attention. “Popping!” With an exclamation point! I love food that pops!
As far as I know, though, there are no sordid stories behind these popping chips. They won’t make your stomach explode if you eat them while drinking soda and I personally have eaten my way through at least two bags so far and I’ve never once had problems pooping. (That is a jokey callback to the “strange medical mystery” link above, by the way. I’m not an oversharing fecalist.)
The Popping Corn Chips are made by the Lotte Confectionery Corporation in South Korea, the same company that produces Crunky chocolate bars and the very cute and tasty Koala’s March cookies. The bag does not lie, these chips do pop.
Unlike Bugles, which are shaped like, well, a bugle, these triangular puffs are closed on all three sides. No, you can’t wear them on your fingers like little hats, but they’re still a lot of fun because when you place one chip between your teeth and gently crunch down, it bursts into light, crispy shards of salty corn confetti and it is utterly delightful.
Eating these chips is as satisfying as watching those hydraulic press videos on Instagram except that raw, snack-crushing power is happening in your mouth.
Does this all sound familiar? It is. Back in the late-'90s, Doritos introduced Doritos 3D, “A whole new shape that begs to be eaten in very loud ways.”
Here is the very '90s-looking commercial starring Sean Hayes and Ali Landry:
The chips were discontinued sometime around 2000 but Doritos brought them back last year — without Landry or Hayes — and they’re now available in, like, two totally extreme flavors, brah, Spicy Ranch and Chili Cheese Nacho.
Honestly, Lotte’s chips are better.
First of all, they’re not packaged like an X Games skate ramp circa 2001. They’re not dressed up with Gen-Z-bait flavors, either. The Original tastes similar to Original Bugles — they’re salty, corny, and delicious. Even better is the Grilled Corn flavor. It’s tangier and more savory, with just the subtlest hint of sweetness and some really enticing umami vibes.
Lotte’s Popping Corn Chips also come in a Sweet & Spicy, flavor, but according to the package, there are a couple of different beef flavorings involved — including “beef digestion solution”? — so I haven’t tried it. Nor do I need to.
I don’t need to try the “new” Doritos 3Ds, either. Grilled Corn Popping Corn Chips are my perfect salty snack and no others need apply. At least for now.
“Hate Me” by Lee Young-ji feat. youra
It would be bogus to not pair this week’s snack — a popping chip from Korea — with a K-pop song, right? Problem is, I know very little about K-pop. It’s a genre I’ve never really explored, and for no good reason, really, except that there is a lot of music in the world and only one me.
Thankfully, the deeply knowledgeable music journalist Maria Sherman wrote a beginner’s guide to K-pop for NPR in July 2020 and I’ve had a lot of fun digging through all the songs she recommends over the past few days. As Sherman writes, “In truth, the world of K-pop is expansive and exponentially evolving. It is not a matter of if you can find a K-pop artist whose work you'll fall for, it's when.”
One favorite from Sherman’s list (so far) is “Solo” by Jennie, a member of the very popular K-pop group Blackpink. When I say “very popular,” I mean Blackpink has 46 million followers on Instagram and their music videos have hundreds of millions of views each on YouTube. The dance performance video for the song “How You Like That” alone has surpassed 1 billion views.
“Solo” is Jennie’s first release sans Blackpink and it is a Rihanna/Charli XCX/Katy Perry-circa-“Dark Horse” banger all about ditching people’s expectations and embracing the bad bitch you know you are.
Have a listen if that’s the kind of energy you need in your life right now:
Good, right? It’s kind of addictive, like the Popping Corn Chips. Once it’s over, I hit play again because I love the part where the song goes from shining pop anthem longing for love to a dark dance cut that unapologetically says, “Boy, bye.”
Via K-Pop I have also waded a bit into K-hip-hop territory. It’s there that I found Lee Young-ji, a rapper from Seoul.
So far Lee has only released a handful of singles — at least that’s all that’s available on U.S. streaming services — with her most recent release being Flower Language, a pair of songs recorded with Korean rapper Layone.
It’s 2021’s “Hate Me” that I can’t stop listening to, though. The track, a collaboration with producer Woogie and featuring singer-songwriter youra, reminds me a bit of K.Flay. It’s a chilly, moody combination of hip-hop and youra’s electronic-leaning indie rock.
The chorus, a nod to t.A.T.u’s 2002 single “All the Things She Said,” is sung with a breathy melancholy while Lee’s rapping style recalls someone like Tierra Whack, her lyrics delivered with unboastful confidence.
Doritos is bringing back the '90s, Lee Young-ji is bringing back the 2000s. Time is a circle. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back with a good snack and watch it all go by.