Tastes that pass test of time

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Tastes that pass test of time

Ever wonder how classic snacks manage to stick around for so long? Well, there’s a reason why some goodies remain favorites even after 30 years on the market ― the secret is changing flavors.
Snack companies change the flavor of their hit products to match a new generation’s differing tastes. Matdongsan, a cookie made by the Haitai Confectionery and Foods Co., has maintained its popularity since it first appeared on shelves in 1975.
At that time, the snack was not crisp at all; it was even tough to chew. But over the years the company has made the cookie crisp to meet consumers’ demand for a softer taste.
“I know it tastes different from when I first ate it in my childhood. But I can’t place exactly what has changed,” said office worker Oh Young-hoon, 42, of today’s Matdongsan.
“Maybe it was much tastier then, since there were not many snacks around like today,” he said.
In the case of Matdongsan, ferment technology has been added to the kneading process. The yeast, which is contained in the dough, makes the inner part of the cookie more tender when the dough is fried.
Ace Cracker, another Haitai hit from the 1970s, has seen its oil and fat content reduced in order to satisfy consumers looking for a mild flavor.
The biscuit has also become crispier and drier, as the company has developed a new technology that spreads the oil and fat as thin as possible on the cracker’s surface.
Lotte Confectionery Co.’s gums, Juicy Fresh, Spearmint and Freshmint, were tough to chew when they came out in 1972. The company worked to make the gum softer, even going as far as studying the size and structure of the typical Korean jawbone.
“Thirty years’ worth of skill has been put into the seven-centimeter diameter of Choco Pie,” says an Orion Co.’s spokesperson. Early Choco Pie, which appeared in 1974, tasted rough because it lacked water-based ingredients.
The problem was that the company couldn’t add water because it would cause mildew. After numerous failures, Orion finally found a way to add water without mildew contamination. Since then, the pies have become much softer.
Nongshim’s Shrimp Crackers, which were first produced in 1971, saw their shrimp content increase from 6.8 to 7 percent in 1998. Although the increase is small, the shrimp taste and smell became stronger.
There is one product, however, that never changed its original flavor ― Binggrae’s Banana Milk.
Since 1974, Binggrae has surveyed consumers about 10 times annually about their taste preferences for the various milk combinations the company uses in Banana Milk. Each year, consumers keep saying that the original taste is the best, and the company listens.
Each year, 250 new products are released on the snack market in Korea. About 80 percent disappear within two years.

by Lee Chul-jae
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