It’s hard to think of a more Japanese condiment than wasabi, but even among diners born and raised in Japan, you can find people who order their sushi wasabi nuki, or without wasabi. We can see why, since not everyone who loves the flavor of raw fish also enjoys the sensation of simultaneously having their sinuses cleared and their tongue set on fire.
What’s a little harder to understand, though, is why the makers of wasabi-beef flavored potato chips have decided to offer a wasabi-free version of their salty snacks.
Last year, one of our Japanese-language correspondents shared her list of the 10 best potato chip flavors in Japan. And while it’s certainly a mouth-watering list, personally, I’ve got one major issue with it. She had manufacturer Yamayoshi Seika’s Wasabeef chips buried in the number three spot. If you ask me, someone who can’t get enough wasabi, they should have been the runaway winner.
The wasabi is clearly the star in Wasabeef, with the beef flavor ostensibly just along for the ride. So when Yamayoshi tweeted last April 1 that it was planning to start selling Wasabi Nuki Wasabeef, everyone knew right away it was a joke.
▼ Haha very funny guys. Now get back to work dusting those chips with wasabi!
However, the gag got enough attention that one month later Yamayoshi sent out another message, this time saying that if it was retweeted 8,044 times within the week, the company would indeed bring Wasabi Nuki Wasabeef to market. Seven days came and went without the goal being reached, though, and we figured that was the end of the story.
Over the summer, though, chip lovers couldn’t get the idea out of their minds. Could it be that the beef was the real hero of Wasabeef? Was it just being muscled out of the limelight like Bruce Lee in his role as sidekick Kato on the Green Hornet TV series? Even with the deadline passed, people kept retweeting the offer from Yamayoshi, which has now been shared over 41,000 times.
Since the whole point of selling delicious, nutritionally void food like potato chips is giving people what they want, Yamayoshi has heard their pleas, and officially announced through its Twitter account that it’s going to make Wasabi Nuki Wasabeef a reality.
▼ “The April Fool’s joke has come true!!” exclaims Wasabeef Cow.
But while the latest announcement is serious, Yamayoshi seems to fully understand just how weird the idea is. The company is committed to playing along, though, as shown in the new packaging, Whereas ordinary bags of Wasabeef are labeled as having wasabi (わさび) and beef (ビーフ) flavors, Wasabi Nuki Wasabeef proudly touts its taste as “beef and beef.”
Wasabi Nuki Wasabeef hits convenience stores on November 17, followed by supermarkets and other retailers on December 1. We’re willing to give the milder chips a shot, but if they turn out to taste a little lonely without that wasabi kick, we’ll have a bottle of remedy standing by.