By Nathan Abrams
Han’s Mini Mart is a small Asian grocer located in Marshall Square Mall. The store is an offshoot of Han’s Oriental Market, located on Erie Boulevard. Though not a full grocery store like its larger counterpart, Han’s Mini Mart still carries a wide variety of baked goods, packaged snack items, and a small selection of grocery items. One of the market’s most popular items are Yan Yans, a “Dunkaroo-style” snack.
Yan Yans are small, cupholder sized packages containing flavored cremes and dipping sticks with which to enjoy said creme (or “créme” per the official Meiji America Incorporated website). The individual sticks feature unique images of various animals and corresponding messages ranging from factual trivia (GIRAFFE—TALLEST MAMMAL), to fortune cookie-type expressions (GOAT—YOU ARE LUCKY TODAY), to seemingly random statements (STAG BEETLE—LOVE IT).
For the sake of easily describing these snacks to the average American consumer, I’d say they’re a cross between the Breadsticks ‘n Cheese Dip variety of Kraft Premium Handi-Snacks®, and Dunkaroos. As unappetizing as that combination sounds, Yan Yans are a pretty tasty snack. I tried all three standard flavors (Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry) and have taken the liberty of discussing the merits of each to help you, the readers of Baked, make the right choice when purchasing your own Yan Yan dipping sticks.
Strawberry, indisputably the worst of the three, is intense in both flavor and presentation. The créme is bright pink and overbearingly sweet with a strong dose of a classic, immediately identifiable artificial strawberry flavor. Whether this is a good or bad thing is ultimately up to you. That being said, I still respect the strawberry flavored Yan Yans for their aggressive display of industrialized food processing power.
The chocolate flavor is possibly my favorite. The créme tastes almost like Nutella, which is to say: pretty good. If you’re an avid and loyal chocolate fan, you won’t be disappointed with this flavor of Yan Yans.
The vanilla flavor represents the clearest comparison to Dunkaroos, with a frosting flavor that’s nearly identical. It is for this reason, and this reason only, that vanilla Yan Yans are in contention for the winning title against chocolate.
The dipping sticks are the same regardless of the flavor of créme you choose, allowing the true flavor of each to really shine through (which is mostly just sugar).
Although Yan-Yans are far from exclusive to Han’s Mini Mart, they are one of my favorite products sold there. Han’s Mini Mart is a great stop if you’re searching for an accessible selection of Asian groceries close to campus, or just looking to try some new snacks you’re unfamiliar with.