While writing some gruesome scenes about spider people and another blog post about crushing loneliness, I decided to take a break to try all of the popcorns and milks in my local GS25 store, because exploring snacks is one of the best parts of traveling. I enlisted my friend Nadea to try these with me. I wanted to try the different flavors of soju instead of milk, but Nadea rejected that idea. The results were as follows:
Vanilla Ice Cream Popcorn
If you’re the kind of person who always gets handed the biggest slice of birthday cake because all your friends know you’re a disgusting sugar monster, you’ll like this popcorn because it tastes like cake. It tastes nothing like vanilla ice cream, but if you’re someone who buys vanilla ice cream popcorn, let’s be honest, you’re probably someone who enjoys birthday cake flavor. It’s actually not as absurdly sweet as you would imagine, a few notches down from American caramel corn and weirdly addictive.
Kylie’s rating: 4/5 (“I’m not that picky with junk food.”)
Nadea’s rating: 3.5/5 (“I’m a tough reviewer.”)
This is a straight-up melted fudgesicle. Thicker than I remember American chocolate milk being. Nadea says it’s a bit more powdery than its American counterpart, but seeing as I haven’t had chocolate milk since I was 10, I can’t say for sure. It meets expectations for chocolate milk. My lack of enthusiasm may stem from the fact that I’m not a huge flavored milk fan. Despite having a massive sweet tooth, I won’t even drink almond milk unless it’s unsweetened. “Then why are we doing this?” says Nadea. “Because you didn’t want to drink soju with me,” I say.
Kylie’s rating: 3/5
Nadea’s rating 3.5/5
Butter Garlic Popcorn
There’s a concept in the food industry called the Bliss Point, which is basically the optimal balance of salty and sweet that makes you want to keep eating more and more until you explode. That is the only way to describe this popcorn. I reluctantly bought it one day when I couldn’t find a cheese popcorn that I liked, and then devoured the whole bag in 5 minutes. If you go to Korea, run to a GS25 and buy this. Buy every bag in the store. Sell all your assets to afford more of this popcorn. If you’re not convinced, just imagine the taste of buttery garlic bread in popcorn form. That’s what this is.
Kylie’s rating: 6/5 (“You already know how I feel about this.”)
Nadea’s rating: 4.5/5 (“Hold up, these are the bomb.”)
Soy Bean Milk
We bought this milk because we are idiots. I read the carton and deciphered that it was “milk containing beans” so we thought it was cool and exotic and blatantly ignored the pictures of SOY BEANS on the side. Upon pouring it into a glass, it was a sludgy gray color. I’ve had soy milk before, but this is a far cry from the creamy joy of Silk brand soy milk. It tastes a bit like newspapers.
Kylie’s rating: 1/5 (“this doesn’t taste like something you’re supposed to eat.”)
Nadea’s rating: 2/5 (“The color turns me off, but I’m not angry about it.”)
Cream Cheese Popcorn
I think the only place for cream cheese is in the frosting of a red velvet cake and on an everything bagel, so I went into this with low expectations. After a few bites, Nadea and I looked at each other contemplatively.
Nadea: I dont know about that a creamy after taste.
Nadea: I don’t know how I feel about this.
Kylie: … I have an opinion, but I’m afraid if I say it, it’s going to influence your opinion.
Nadea: Just say it.
Kylie: … it tastes like ham.
Nadea: …It does taste like ham… IT TASTES LIKE HAM! LIKE SLICED HAM! UGH!
Kylie: … like ham and cream cheese frosting.
Kylie’s rating: 2/5 (“not exactly a dislike, but wouldn’t buy it again”)
Nadea’s rating: 1/5 (“hard pass.”)
This brings back memories of grabbing a Nesquik strawberry milk bottle from the fridge at Dunkin Donuts before carpooling to elementary school. It’s the epitome of beautiful and artificial strawberry flavoring. Unlike American strawberry milk, it’s white.
Nadea’s rating: 4/5 (“I like strawberry milk. It’s good.”)
Kylie’s rating: 4/5 (“Pretty much what I expected”)
They actually do serve this popcorn in movie theaters in Korea. The caramel flavor is very mild, letting the butter flavoring speak. It tastes vaguely burnt, but in a good way. I finished the bag after Nadea left with my preferred butter garlic popcorn.
Kylie’s rating: 3.5/5 (“I want more of this.”)
Nadea’s rating: 3.5/5 (“would like more caramel glaze. I’m not mad at it. or excited for it.”)
If you’ve ever been too lazy to wait in line for actual coffee and grabbed one of those Starbucks frappuccinos that come in glass bottles, you’ve had this before. This is for the people who say they like coffee, but will only drink it if there’s twice as much cream as coffee and at least 2 spoonfuls of sugar (aka the best way to drink coffee. Black coffee drinkers are psychopaths). I’m curious if this actually contains any caffeine, or is just melted coffee ice cream.
Nadea’s rating: 4/5 (“This is what I expected. I actually like it.”)
Kylie: 4/5 (“I miss American Starbucks now.”)
You enjoy the sweetness of this popcorn, and then something bitter punches you in the mouth. Nadea hypothesized that it’s lime. It’s vaguely spicy. I don’t think Korean people have ever actually tried maple syrup. Perhaps they have never even seen a maple tree, considering the fact that the bag is covered in orange and red marijuana leaves. The tagline for this popcorn (and this blog post, honestly) should be: “Tastes nothing like what it’s supposed to, but not bad.”
Nadea’s rating: 2.5/5 (“What is that? I don’t like that lime taste.”)
Kylie’s rating: 3/5 (“I’m hungry so I’ll eat it.”)
This is quintessential Korean snack culture. You haven’t lived in Korea if you haven’t tried banana milk. To be clear, this tastes nothing like actual bananas and everything like banana flavored Laffy Taffy, but honestly that’s how I prefer my banana food products, so that’s fine with me. It comes in this adorable little barrel bottle so it’s impossible to look tough or badass in any way while consuming it. But I’m the kind of person who drank juice boxes in public at the age of 20, so clearly that’s not an issue for me.
Kylie’s rating: 4/5 (“God I miss Laffy Taffy, that shit was awesome”)
Nadea’s rating: 4/5 (“this bottle is so cute”)
Cheese Cake Popcorn
I already knew going into this that Koreans define “cheesecake” differently from Americans. I’ve been handed snacks that were essentially sponge bread and heard them called “cheesecake.” The picture on the bag looks like a regular slice of cheese cake with a slab of Laughing Cow cream cheese on it and some Sycamore seeds jammed into the top. Despite my initial fear, the flavor was underwhelming. It tastes like a generic sweet popcorn with no hints of cheese, which is probably for the best.
Kylie’s rating: 3/5 (“I mean it’s fine, it’s not cheesecake though.”)
Nadea’s rating: 4.5/5 (“It tastes like sweet butter popcorn.”)
Think back to the Starbucks drinks in glass bottles, but this time with a chocolate undertone to it. Nadea disagrees and says that the coffee flavor is stronger, but she is wrong and I am right. I consumed these drinks from the CVS next to the daycare where I worked from the age of 15-20. This is just sweet chocolate milk with a hint of coffee flavor.
Kylie’s rating: 4/5 (“Been there, done that, can’t complain”)
Nadea: 2/5 (“a little bitterness”)
Cafe Dulce Milk
Nadea and I had to google what “dulce” meant and we think it’s just a fancy term for “sweet” that is sometimes associated with milk and/or caramel. This milk is far sweeter than I’m comfortable with a milk being, and coming from someone who eats (conservatively) 10 bags of candy corn a year, that’s saying a lot. It’s not that I dislike it, exactly, but I cannot think of a situation in which I would voluntarily drink it. It can’t accompany a dessert because it IS the dessert, but who wants a carton of milk for dessert? Not me.
Nadea’s rating: 2/5 (“very very very sweet.”)
Kylie’s rating: 2/5 (“When would anyone drink this”)
This tastes like a straight-up cantaloupe. It’s just as unbearably sweet as the last one, but in a fruity way. It’s a characteristic that might be desirable in a dessert, but as a liquid it’s a lot to take in. “I wouldn’t drink this for fun, but I like it,” Nadea says. “Who drinks milk for fun?” I say.
Kylie’s rating: 2.5/5 (“my stomach hurts”)
Nadea’s rating: 3/5 (“Do you want any more, Kylie? No? Okay, I’ll finish it”)
“By the way,” Nadea said as we dug back into the leftover popcorns, “I’m kind of lactose intolerant.”