Photo credit: Happy Munchers
On my recent trip to South Korea, there was one snack on my radar that I knew I had to get my hands on. It was the best-selling Haitai/ Calbee Honey Butter Chips, first released in South Korea in 2014, but instantly went viral thanks to a cult following of K-Pop and K-Drama celebrities. By November of 2014, just 3 months after its initial launch, sales had reached 10.3 billion KRW (approximately US$9.3 million at that time) in Korea. It stirred up so much attention that in 2015, VICE, Buzzfeed and Straits Times all caught on to it. Heck, even Korean-American Youtubers and bloggers stock up on this sugary goodness whenever they stop by Korea. Unfortunately, it was not yet released in Toronto.
The day I landed in Seoul, my sister and I quickly dropped off our stuff at our Airbnb in Seodaemun and immediately rushed to our nearest convenience store — a GS 25 two blocks down. The chips took a moment for us to spot since they were low in stock. They really do fly off shelves. A bag of 60g was 1,200 KRW (approx. $1.40 CAD). We snatched two, which we ended up finishing that same night. It may come as a surprise to you at first since, unlike North American salty chips that we’re accustomed to, these are sweet and savory. They’re also highly addictive — consider yourselves warned.
Needless to say, the chips prevailed as our go-to snack for the remainder of our trip. A week and a half later when we were at Incheon International Airport preparing to fly out, I was ready to stuff however many bags I could fit into our luggage that I purposely emptied to make room for. That never happened since my sister, being the ever-rational being that she is, told me that I couldn’t.
Calbee Chips are the best 😆😆 Be it Japanese or Korean Calbee, the taste is always perfect with the light unique flavors 👌👌 🍯🍯 These honey butter haitai chips were made more famous making a cameo in the game Love Messenger 💕💕💌 . . . . . #snacks #honeybutterchips #haitai #lovemessenger #yummy #chips #calbee
Back in Toronto for two months now, my search for Honey Butter Chips never seized. I raided Chinese and Korean grocery stores, probed through Reddit forums, scoured Amazon Canada and US. Amazon Canada did have the chips, but for a very hefty price, $16 per bag to be precise. At one point, I was ready to cave in and make a purchase (not one of my finest moments).
Last week, my sister (not the one who went to Korea with me) came home late from work with an Oceans supermarket grocery bag in her hand and, lo and behold, she pulled out that familiar golden-yellow bag I’ve been craving dearly. Just about every member of my family knew about the chips because, well, I wasn’t kidding when I said that I had searched high and low for it. Apparently, it was sitting on the shelf with signs that read “NEW” advertised all over it.
Where to Buy Honey Butter Chips In Toronto
So far, I’ve confirmed that the chips are stocked in Chinese and Korean grocery stores in Mississauga and Vaughan. I assume they would be available at Oceans and Nations supermarkets across Toronto too. A 60g bag goes for $1.99 here, which is not much of a difference from when we bought it in Korea. I kid you not when I tell you this is the next big thing after the spicy ramen challenge. Go and get ‘em!