Global sugar rush

Indulge (or avoid) these imported junk foods

Orion Choco Pies are a delicious import from South Korea, a banned capitalist symbol in the North, and a tasty treat around the globe.

Orion Choco Pies are a delicious import from South Korea, a banned capitalist symbol in the North, and a tasty treat around the globe.

Photo by Maria Ratinova

You can be useless and make money on YouTube. Play video games. Shop for groceries. Take a nap. Silly videos rack views.

These Japanese Nobel Super Lemons will force you to pucker up.

Photo by Maria Ratinova

I appreciate one related subgenre, where popular, melodramatic personalities including Alonzo Lerone eat candies from other countries and dish an honest, ethnocentric opinion of the taste. It’s cultural exploration lite. You discover, vicariously, what citizens in other hemispheres crave.

So I ventured to the Asian and European candy aisles at KP International Market in Rancho Cordova (10971 Olson Drive), where rows were stacked with wafer boxes and chocolates wrapped in cartoons of overjoyed cows which, apparently, is a global symbol for dairy treats.

Come, get YouTube useless with me. Let’s discover some of the world’s junk food:

Choco Pie

You’ve heard about Orion Choco Pies through international news. In 2014, 10,000 of them were launched via balloons into North Korea. A moon pie, the South Korean marshmallow biscuit is a banned capitalist symbol in the North. Pyongyang factories once paid workers Choco Pies in lieu of raises, and it sold as an inflated black market item before the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea manufactured its own knock-off. Verdict: The chocolate shell mirrors Hostess cakes, only softer. The marshmallow center submits like an orthopedic pillow. So many crumbs! I wouldn’t take them over a pay raise (we can talk about Almond Joys), but they’re quite good!

Super Lemon

It’s got sensational packaging: A newspaper headline cries “New Release!!” A comic-book woman pops a yellow star in her mouth and exclaims, “Oh! Juicy!” A scientific diagram outlines the flavor comet’s three distinct layers of puckery. Is this Japanese lemon drop dangerously sour, or is it fake news? Verdict: Chew it immediately. It’s coat of lemon anthrax will terrorize your mouth. How is this different from biting on a lemon slice? Good question.

Ali Baba

Don’t know why these coconut sprinkled chocolate wafers from Palestine are named after the protagonist from the Arabian Nights folk-tale. I’ll surmise: Themes of greed and glutton weave throughout Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. The humble woodworker even loses a family member to overindulgence: When his brother Cassim infiltrates the thieves’ secret cave of treasure (“Open sesame!”), he gets so caught up in gold and jewels that he forgets the password to escape, and is murdered. Hey, it’s a dessert. A temptation story makes a lot sense. Verdict: Your nose will taste it before your tongue does. The coconut scent foreshadows an intense four-layer mixture of coco-crunch, wafer crunch, and soft chocolate inside and out. What’s the password again?

Russian Chocolate Elite

Nothing says Russian chocolate better than a snow-covered statue of Peter The Great. The “Bronze Horseman” graces this candy bar, implying royal sensibilities, which means bitter, dark chocolate. Can I hang with the oligarchs and their 70-percent cacao? Verdict: This chocolate has pores! Surface-of-the-moon air bubbles intend to make the flavor richer and more refined. But this bar of fragile, crumby meteorite doesn’t cut it. Lick a penny if you want this brand of bitter. For an equally restrained flavor, chew on brick.

Donan Furano Melon Caramel

More weird Japanese packaging. This box has a flatulent child, lightning, a ball of yarn, champagne, a cat. Does it make sense when you eat it? Verdict: The two players oddly co-exist. If you want melon, caramel adds a sugary kick. If you crave caramel, that flavor is subdued by the fruit.

Caramel Corns Peanuts Snack

Back in the Asian candy aisle, children were possessed by this old-west-styled, Korean snack bag. A gunfight ensues between two peanut cowboys around a photo of fluffy corn bits. I root for the sly, mustached villain. But would I root for this treat? Verdict: Close your eyes. Imagine Cracker Jacks. Caramel popcorn with the occasional peanut. Except in airy, cereal corn form. Partner, where I’m from, we call that a good chew!