Simply Nature Sea Salt Roasted Seaweed Snacks (Aldi)

A package of Simply Nature Sea Salt Roasted Seaweed Snacks, from Aldi
These are either the Asian equivalent to potato chips, or rice cakes. 

Man will eat anything. I don’t think I need to explain myself any further, but just in case you’re in doubt, here we have some roasted seaweed snacks, which are a big thing in Asian continents, but not something that has really caught on here. (I’m completely assuming, but they seem to be like an alternative to potato chips over there, with brands offering up seaweed snacks in a variety of different flavors.) I mean, who was the first person to look at seaweed and think: "I'll bet if I roasted that, it would taste good"?

Inside are roughly ten paper-thin pieces of seaweed, which smell...earthy. Earthy with a strong side of salt. The seaweed is packed in a plastic tray which is the only recyclable part of this whole package...okay “Simply Nature”, we see you.

The taste is...very salty. That’s about it. There’s a little undercurrent of “green earthiness” underneath, which I could see being very off-putting to most Western folk who are unaccustomed to such flavors - I’m included in that. It’s just not something that I would typically turn to when I’m hungry...or really at any time that I’m in the mood for something edible. Not that I’m saying these aren’t edible - there’s something oddly satisfying about them, in some small way - I’m just saying the flavor profile of “grass meets mushroom” isn’t really something I would consider high on my list of perfect snack foods. The more I think about it, I think spinach would be an apt comparison for Western folk; imagine dried spinach, if you dare, and that's kind of along the same lines with what you can expect here. 

The one thing that intrigues me, although in a good way, is the texture: it literally is like eating paper. Well, that’s kind of a poor description: it’s like eating a combination of paper and those thin breath mint strips that dissolve on your tongue. I can’t say I’ve had another product like it. It starts dissolving in your mouth when you put it in, like it’s pretending it’s going to do all the work for you, and then just sits there until you realize you have to actually chew the rest. Then while you’re chewing, the texture turns a little weird yet again; it puts up a little resistance, and even feels like it’s trying to force its way between your teeth. It’s bonkers, yet also the most exciting quality about the entire experience.

As expected, nutritional value is virtually nonexistent across the board, save for some sodium and, somewhat surprisingly, 2.5g of fat (per 0.17 oz. package). They’re basically like rice cakes for the Asian world, a mostly guilt-free snack that you can down - in reasonable quantities - without feeling like you’re packing anything on. Of course, like rice cakes, the downside is that you also don’t really feel like you’ve eaten anything, so you’re still going to be hungry. But these at least pack in more flavor, so it’s not like eating crisped air...it might not be the best flavor ever, but sometimes “any” flavor is better than none at all.

Value is pretty decent, with a three-pack of seaweed snacks going for $1.29. I guess I’m just assuming the value is good, because I don’t really know how much seaweed typically goes for, but $.43 per package isn’t going to break the bank. It all just comes down to how much you’re going to enjoy this awkward combination of weird texture and weird flavor...and if you’re like me, it’s not going to be all that much.

Overall: 5/10. Here we have what one would call “culture shock”: this is a rather weird snack that seems to have caught on in European/Asian countries but not so much across the pond. And it’s easy to see why: the “earthy salt” flavor profile and bizarre, paper-thin texture aren’t really going to appeal to most Western tastebuds. This is one of those products that I wouldn’t really say I enjoyed, but also not an experience I hated, so basically it’s a complete wash. Value is pretty good at $1.29 per 3-pack (with each package housing about 10 roasted seaweed treats). It's not my cup of tea, but if it's yours, have at it. 

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