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In the face of work-related problems and bills all piling up, some of us wonder why adulthood should be this complicated. And in attempt to relive the innocent and carefree days of childhood, most people indulge on their favorite kiddie snacks a.k.a “comfort foods”.
In this list, I’ve compiled some of the well-loved Filipino snacks enjoyed by various generations. For the record, the entries on this list are my personal favorites and were chosen because (1) they are still available today and due to (2) the incredible impact they’ve left on our childhood memories.
Let’s now take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of our favorite kiddie treats.
10. Captain Sid’s Butong Pakwan
The myth about swallowed watermelon seeds “growing in your stomach” has long been debunked. But thanks to Captain Sid, our taste buds remain loyal to the salty goodness of butong pakwan. As a child, we loved sucking those black melon seeds before cracking them into two. Its “alat factor” made the patience required to eat seeds even more worthwhile.
Interesting fact: An average watermelon bears up to 800 seeds, 5% of which are still immature. These ‘younger’ seeds appear white and are relatively smaller compared to the larger black seeds. Only the bigger seeds are ready for planting and cultivation.
With a loud clang of a bell, a “magbibinatog” would remind us the best part of every afternoon siesta. Binatog is a traditional Pinoy merienda commonly served with grated coconut meat and salt to taste. Back in the days, binatog was usually peddled through wooden carts or a bicycle with two containers hanging on its side.
Interesting fact: Although the classic binatog is made by soaking and boiling mature white corn (lagkitan), you can now prepare your own, the hassle-free way. One of the easier versions of binatog, for example, can be cooked using pre-soaked Hominy or Mexican-style corn. And if you want to put a little twist, you can also try the Baguio-style binatog—a bowl of boiled corn drizzled with evaporated milk and a little pinch of sugar.
8. Ice Scramble
Back in the days, our after-school food trips won’t be complete without a cup of pink, mouth-watering ice scramble. And during an era when pearly shakes were still virtually unknown, iskrambol was a total summer delight. The classic iskrambol as we know it was made from shaved ice drizzled with milk powder and chocolate syrup. Over the years, ice scramble has slowly evolved from simple street food into a well-liked Pinoy smoothie now served in local malls.
Interesting fact: Ice scramble is believed to have originated in Iloilo. It had been a favorite summer or after-school treat until a Hepatitis scare a few years back almost stall its popularity. In 2010, food franchises started to reinvent Pinoy scramble by adding more colorful toppings. You can now taste this childhood favorite once again by visiting popular stalls like Manila Scramble, Buz Box Scrambles, and Scramble Mania.
7. Mik-Mik Sweetened Milk Powder
A list of nostalgic kiddie snacks won’t be complete without Mik-Mik and its unforgettable slogan: “Mapapaubo ka sa Sarap”. It’s a sweetened milk powder sold in a sachet with a matching straw to boot. Kids of the 90’s will always remember its addictive milk powder best enjoyed as is or by pouring it in a glass of water.
6. Haw Haw Milk Powder Candy
Munching one pack of Haw Haw candy is like a journey back to our childhood. I’m sure you still remember how you let each rectangular block melt in your mouth while you savor its milky goodness. And thanks to its adorable cow mascot, we rationalized our guilty pleasure as if Haw Haw was a better alternative to a glass of milk. Many years after, the thought of having a lifetime supply of Haw Haw remains one of our wildest dreams.
5. Ice Gem Biscuits
Truth be told, it is those colorful icing on their top that have earned Ice Gem biscuits a cult following. Regardless if you tried them as a baon or merienda, I’m pretty sure you got your own way of eating these little gems. Some kids enjoyed eating the icing first while the rest saved these colorful decorations for last. Bite-sized and visually-appealing, Ice Gem biscuits are still enjoyed today by youngsters and adults alike.
Interesting fact: Contrary to popular belief, Ice Gem biscuits didn’t originate from Asia. In 1850, Huntley and Palmer, a biscuit company from Berkshire, discovered miniature biscuits by accident. These small biscuits—aptly named “Gems”—came after the company experimented with some new biscuit technology. The icing on top was only introduced in 1910 and since then, childhood snacks all over the world have never been the same.
4. White Rabbit Creamy Candy
This Chinese counterpart of nougat has stood out in our memories for its unique rice paper covering. The bizarre wrapper is edible and perfectly complements the sweet, chewy, and cylindrical candies within. It was a delectable giveaway during fiestas and Christmas parties but for those with sweet tooth, White Rabbit remains the quintessential ‘comfort candy’ enjoyed by all generations.
Interesting fact: White Rabbit was initially marketed with a slogan, “Seven White Rabbit candies is equivalent to one cup of milk“. Ironically, the ‘milk’ part of this well-loved candy led to one of the most controversial scandals the company has ever faced. During the height of the 2008 melamine scare, some White Rabbit products were banned in Hong Kong. The candy returned to the market in 2009 as “Golden Rabbit” and has used Australian milk ever since.
3. Pompoms Cheese Flavored Curls
Dubbed as the “poor man’s Cheese Curls”, Pompoms is one of the few old-timers still available today. This salty but yummy Pinoy chicheria reminds us of those carefree days of watching afternoon kiddie shows. With a bowl of Pompoms on one hand and a refreshing ice tubig on the other, one could easily get a satisfying childhood merienda.
Interesting fact: Since 1986, Pompoms has been an affordable local favorite. Back in the day, single pack only costs 25 cents and for those who were short of coins, a set of old newspapers or used bottles were enough to get cheesy Pompoms in return.
2. Bazooka Bubble Gum
Its smell, color, and distinct comic strips had made Bazooka a popular childhood best-seller. Mention its name and the wrap-around comics featuring Bazooka Joe easily come to mind. Although not made in the Philippines, Bazooka bubble gum was still an instant hit for fascinated youngsters and collectors alike.
Interesting fact: Sad to say but after 60 years, Bazooka bubble gum—first marketed by New York-based Topps Company after World War II—finally bid farewell to its well-loved comic strips. In November 2012, it was announced that a major product overhaul would take place due to plummeting sales. Bazooka Joe comics are now replaced by puzzles and codes which can be used to access video games online.
1. Choc Nut
An all-time Pinoy favorite, Choc Nut is not your ordinary, sticky chocolate bar. For one, its unique texture and authentic taste have made Choc Nut incomparable to, say, Hershey’s and M&M chocolates. Made from a delectable combination of crushed peanuts, milk, cocoa powder, and cane sugar, Choc Nut also brings with it a nostalgic sweetness of our childhood years. One taste of this sweet and fragile peanut-chocolate and the memories of our innocent youth would flash before our eyes.
Choc Nut has made an incredible impact to every Filipino that most OFW’s now crave to satisfy their sweet tooth with a pack of Choc Nut. No wonder it was dubbed as “probably the greatest Philippine invention” by some local chocoholics. Get a taste of Choc Nut and have a trip back to yester years. Guaranteed.