Taste Test: The Best Snacks Inspired by Honey Butter Chips
A display of honey-butter-flavored snacks at the convenience store near our office
Any K-pop fan worth her salt (or honey butter) knows that the craze for Honey Butter Chips is still going strong. The snack is not yet readily available in stores, but if patience is one of your stronger virtues, you can add your name to a waitlist. Or if you’re all about immediate gratification, you can head to the convenience store and just buy one of the many snacks inspired by Honey Butter Chips. You see, while Haitai (the company responsible for unleashing honey butter madness unto the nation) attempts to keep up with demand by building a new factory, its competitors are more than happy to appease impatient consumers with Honey Butter Almonds, Honey Butter Leaf Pies, and a slew of snacks featuring a similar salty-sweet flavor profile.
I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to test out all the snacks inspired by Honey Butter Chips. Probably because it was free food that I could put on the company credit card. But I had also become enticed by the illustrations on the packages, usually of a pot of golden honey, sometimes accompanied by a luscious-looking, half-melted slab of butter. Those illustrations are tempting me. There’s only one thing for me to do. It took me two trips to bring all the snacks to the office. I was not particularly discerning in my selection: If the package said either “honey” or “butter,” I bought it. I also bought “honey cheese,” “sweet cheese,” and even “honey chili” snacks, on the grounds that they were new and undoubtedly inspired by HBC.
When I proudly entered the office with my new snacks, everyone gave me the side-eye. This was weird because usually the staff loves anyone who brings free food. But I had forgotten one key thing: Everyone on the Soompi team has already tried the original Honey Butter Chip. And, without exception, everyone hated it. Even I hated it. It was like eating a potato chip dusted lightly with powdered sugar. I eat potato chips because they deliver maximum salt and grease payload. Adding powdered sugar to the equation neutralizes the salt, in this case resulting in an oddly bland, weird-tasting chip. I’m not actually sure that we managed to finish the bag, but if we did indeed throw it away half-eaten, I sincerely hope the trash collector picked it up and sold the remnants for $25.
Still, I had already made my purchases, and I wasn’t going to risk getting into trouble with the convenience store cashier. “I’m sorry, sir. I accidentally bought 19 different honey-butter-flavored snacks without realizing that I dislike honey butter. Please process the return.” No, the Soompi staff was going to eat and rate all the snacks, even if it resulted in temporary decreased goodwill between us. My team whom I work with and see every single day will forgive and forget, but the goodwill of the cashier is far more important.
We actually tested all 19 snacks. However, for the sake of time, we will be limiting our review to the most noteworthy of the honey butter bunch. Read on!
Okay, to be honest, Jeonghwa’s Honey Butter Dried Squid didn’t make the cut for top-rated snack, but we’re including it because it’s so indicative of how far the honey butter craze has spread. Then again, maybe it’s not so far-fetched – dried squid is a popular snack in Korea, and butter-flavored dried squid isn’t uncommon. We can see how the execs at Jeonghwa must have put two and two together. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t taste very good. Some flavors weren’t meant to go together, and we would say that honey and squid are two such flavors.
7 Select’s Honey Cream Cheese Latte didn’t actually make the cut for the highest-rated snack, but it proved to be the most divisive, managing to get a fair share of fours and fives, so we’re still including it on our list. Basically, if you love eggnog or the idea of a liquefied cheesecake, this one’s for you. The rest of us thought it was revolting (“like drinking leftover pancake syrup and butter”) and gave it a 1 or 2.
A couple months ago, McDonald’s Korea unveiled limited edition Honey Butter Fries, which I once ordered in addition to (not instead of) my regular fries because I knew they wouldn’t be half as delicious as the regular fries and I didn’t want to get angry at McDonald’s for making me miss out on their regular fries. I wasn’t wrong, but the honey butter fries were oddly addictive. Haitai Jagabee’s new Honey Mild flavor is basically the freeze-dried version of Honey Butter Fries. They’re fried potato snacks that are very salty, quite sweet, and very greasy. In other words, I ate most of the bag while typing these sentences. Since McDonald’s has ended its run on Honey Butter Fries, this is a wonderful alternative.
The two snacks tied for fifth place are both from Haitai, which is the same company that produces the original Honey Butter Chip. It’s basically the same mildly sweet-savory, honey-butter seasoning, laid atop different structures. If Jagabee is the dense salty version of HBC, then Honey Tong Tong is the light and sweet version. The ridged texture allows more honey-butter powder than the HBC’s flat chip, making it more flavorful, but the puffed corn/rice base keeps things light. If you want an officially sanctioned alternative to HBC, this is your best bet. Even the packaging is really similar.
The package shows a cartoon chef bearing a pot of honey (of course) while holding in his other hand a Honey Bread Chip the size of his head. The picture is exaggerated, but not by much – these snacks are pretty large. A handful for most people would mean two to three pieces. They’re light, puffy, and thanks to the little sugar crystals on the surface, they taste more like real honey than any other snack. The salt component is limited to the natural savory flavor of the puffed corn, so we can’t recommend this as our top choice for anyone looking for true honey butter flavor. Still, we would totally eat this again.
The sweet version of Bugles. It doesn’t specifically taste like honey butter compared to Haitai’s version, but it has enough of that sweet-savory taste that you expect from the name. These are light, airy, and crisp corn snacks shaped like horns, and the only proper way to consume them is to stick them on the tips of your fingers and eat them one by one.
This is one of the looser interpretations of the honey butter trend, but should still be included as it probably would not have existed if not for HBC. These look almost identical to original Doritos, but taste pretty different – along with the sweet honey taste, there’s a light jalapeno kick. It tastes kind of like sweet red chili sauce. The sweet-spicy flavor might not be everyone’s bag of chips (hah), but if you’re a fan of sriracha, you’ll probably find this one appealing.
I think we knew going in that this was going to be the winner. Some of us have already been snacking on these for a few months now. These are plump almonds dusted with a pleasantly sweet butter-flavored powder. They’re addictive, they totally have that true honey butter taste, and the almonds (probably falsely) make you believe that this is a healthy snack. Even when the honey butter craze dies down, we hope that these almonds will stick around!
Have you tried any of these snacks, or the original HBC? What did you think?
melkimx wrote the majority of this article with fingers covered in honey butter seasoning.