Do not swallow the red hot iron ball, and then cry, “I am in great pain!” –Buddhist proverb
Tohato, a snack maker, was the first Japanese company to successfully combine habanero peppers and potatoes into a delicious and spicy potato chip several years ago. What is a habenero? If jalapeño peppers were Bruce Banner, habanero would be The Incredible Hulk. They are a small chili pepper that are allegedly the hottest variety available. They are also sometimes called Scotch Bonnets, which makes a lot of sense if you know of Scotland’s secret history of really spicy cuisine. (Not true).
The original Habanero potato chips, 暴君ハバネロチッコス have to be prepared under strict supervision with the workers wearings surgical masks to avoid being clobbered by the habanero fumes. Since then, Tohato, has created several varieties of them, the latest being the Habenero Kimichi Chips (暴君ハバネロチップス・ハバチスタミナキムチ味). What is Kimchi? Kimchi is a traditional spicy pickled cabbage, which is the national dish of Korea. According to one retired yakuza I know, kimchi is also one of the few things that can cover up the smell of a decaying corpse but I’ve not verified this with a third party. Personally, I like the taste of kimchi and don’t find the smell too awful.
The Tohato Habanero chips are easy to spot by the 暴君ハバネロ (bokun-habanero/Habanero Despot) symbol. It’s a little red vegetable figure that looks like he was the bastard child of a Jack-O-Lantern and Mrs. Habanero. He appears to have no arms or legs but yet manages to stand erect which is sort of an amazing feat.
Tohato’s latest culinary masterpiece is a delicate blend of habanero, garlic, powdered kimchi, ginger and some other things that I’m afraid to look up. Surprisingly, the taste is relatively mild and sweet but still manages to make my eyeballs sweat. If you wash it down with a small can of Mad-Croc Energy Cola, you’ll feel revitalized and powered up much like a North Korean “satellite” ready to be launched. However, for me the real joy of these potato chips is that they produce an allergic reaction in me personally which makes my hands go numb, my lips feel I used Tiger Balm on them as a moisturizer, and began I look a lot like an extra from the movie CONTAGION–even the tip of my nose starts tingling and turns red. However, even though I know the risks, once I’ve opened a bag of these delicious sweet and spicy chips, I can’t stop eating them until my fingers are too numb to carry them to my mouth.
If the Buddha was my editor, I’m sure he’d tell me, “Do not munch on the red-hot potato chips you are probably allergic to and then cry, “I am really numb and itchy.” However, since there is no one to stop me, I think I’ll definitely eat them again. Savor at your own peril. Available at LAWSON and other fine convenience stores.