Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crunky Vessel in the Fog

Unreasoning, stupid cold today. But they say it will be above freezing beginning sometime over the weekend. That will seem like resort weather. People will start wearing shorts until the next arctic blast (and there's bound to be at least one more).

Actually, even single-digit temps don't discourage a handful of shorts-wearing fanatics. Last Saturday, temps about 10° F., I was in line at a post office when in walks a fellow in a reasonably suitable winter coat but also shorts and tennis shoes. A shortish but stocky fellow, he must have been about my age, with short, vaguely military hair, a fair number of forehead wrinkles and an enormous, unlit cigar stuck in his mouth the entire time he was in line behind me. For some reason, he reminded me of Sgt. Fury, someone I hadn't thought about in years, but I doubt this guy was ever on a secret mission to kidnap Hitler.

When I scanned Temmy's Sweet Flakes yesterday, I couldn't stop at just one scan -- who can? -- especially when I had an empty box of Crunky around the house. Usually I don't want one enough to pay $2+, but I spied one at a serious discount at an Asian grocery store not long ago.

Unlike Temmy's, I've known about Crunky for many years. It didn't take me long to find Crunky at convenience- and grocery stores in Japan, along with a lot of other native confections. Except that, as a Lotte product, Crunky isn't quite native to Japan, but to Japan and Korea.

Lotte HQ might be in Japan, but it was established by a Korean who grew up in Japan, and its presence is much larger in South Korea than Japan. Except for its delightfully fractured name, Crunky is something like Nestle's Crunch, though not as sweet.

The founder of Lotte, one Shin Kyuk-Ho, is apparently still alive at 89. This is my favorite line in his Wiki stub: "He currently resides in South Korea for odd months and in Japan for even months. [citation needed]" If I had more energy for research tasks that don't pay, I might try to find that citation. I hope it's true. A billionaire without some eccentricities is no fun at all.

Crunky's OK. But it never was my favorite East Asian chocolate. Another Lotte product, Vessel in the Fog, was. I've never seen it for sale in the United States. It's a smooth confection with a great, inexplicable name.

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