SNACKIVANTING: Tokyo Banana (Japan)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Snackivanting highlights popular snack brands in other countries.)

I am writing this while sitting on a plane hurtling toward the United States from Tokyo. Below me, in the cargo hold, is a large suitcase with a neon pink name tag. Inside is a stack of boxes containing rows of small yellow cakes, individually wrapped in cellophane. No, not Twinkies. They’re Tokyo Bananas, the iconic food souvenir of Tokyo.

Japan has a tradition of gift-giving called omiyage, travel souvenirs given to friends, family, or co-workers back at home. The most popular are food gifts. If you’ve ever brought a box of salt water taffy from the beach to the folks at the office, you have given omiyage.

Omiyage is so common (and required) in Japanese culture that every airport and large train station has at least one store selling a range of food gifts – anything from regional-food-flavored Kit Kats to boxes of candy or cakes meticulously wrapped in thick paper decorated with colorful flowers and patterns. I am hypnotized by their beauty and frozen with indecision at the endless options. Omiyage are often unique to the city or prefecture they’re sold in, so you may not see them at the next stop in your journey.

One food gift stands out from the rest, in my opinion (I’m not the only one, judging by their popularity) – Tokyo Bananas. On my first trip to Tokyo in 2014, I kept seeing kiosks selling them, each with a line of customers that made me walk right past. Finally, I gave in to curiosity and bought a single cake. I was all aboard the obsession train.


Tokyo Banana’s sponge cake is fluffy, delicate, and moist (stop the hate for this word – it’s cake-appropriate), and the banana custard cream filling is silky and obviously made with real bananas. That’s all there is to it, but the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. Tokyo Bananas are alt-reality Twinkies – refined, authentic, and with an imminent expiration date (more on that later).

Tokyo Bananas were introduced in 1991 and are the official omiyage of Tokyo. (It’s unclear who sanctions this title, but I’ll accept it at face value.) They were reportedly the first omiyage to feature their city in the name. They’ve grown in popularity, and seasonal and limited edition flavors have been added to the lineup, including lemon, caramel, yogurt, maple, sakura, coffee milk, and chocolate. Each sports a different pattern baked into the cakes, like zebra stripes, giraffe and leopard spots, otters, bears, and flowers. A new gluten-free version made with rice flour is a new addition.

Tokyo Banana has also collaborated to create Mickey Mouse-themed Tokyo Bananas (which were available at Tokyo Disneyland), along with Doraemon, Minions, and Pokemon characters. They’ve also spun-off into different food mediums. There are Tokyo Banana cookies, pastries, cheesecakes, Kit Kats, and last year McDonald’s Japan released Tokyo-Banana-flavored soft-serve waffle cones.

The COVID pandemic of 2020 and resulting travel restrictions put a major dent in Banana-business, so for the first time, they were rolled out in shops across the nation.


In December 2022, Tokyo Banana World opened – a flagship store in Tokyo Station, a major train hub with a large shopping area. One month later, I was there, stocking up on boxes of my beloved cakes, ogling the related cookies and pastries, and dodging thick crowds of people doing the same on their way to catch subways and bullet trains (shinkansen). The placement of the checkouts and line of customers made it difficult to move across the store, but I was dedicated.

I’d heard the store also had two treats that could only be purchased at that location (approx. $2.50 USD each). Both are hot, freshly-made doughnuts. (STOP IT.)

The first was a savory product briefly released in 2002 – Legendary Curry Bread, which is basically a savory doughnut filled with beef, pork, onions, heavy cream, and banana puree. Curry bread is a favorite Japanese food, but bananas aren’t usually on the ingredient list. Sorry, I didn’t try this one, mostly because we’d just eaten lunch and I was firmly in dessert mode.

The second store-exclusive – the Cream and Red Bean Paste Doughnut – was based on Japanese an-doughnuts with the addition of – you guessed it – banana. The one I ate, heated up to molten magma temperatures, was the most exquisite pain I’ve ever experienced. The outer shell was crunchy thanks to a fiantine coating, which I believe is a Japanese translation of feuilletine, crumbled dry crepes. The dough under the fiantine was soft but maintained its structure (I can’t abide baked goods that turn back to dough the moment you touch them).

Inside, the red bean paste hit me first…and scorched off a layer of palate skin. Now, red bean paste – I’m split on this staple of Asian desserts. Over time, I’ve grown to love the sweeter preparations of it, but I’m not always a fan of the more earthy versions. This doughnut had possibly the best red bean paste I’ve ever tasted. It was moderately sweet and had great flavor, but once the gorgeous milky banana cream registered, the red bean settled into an equal partnership. I barely croaked out, “It’s…so…hot…” before going in for another bite. They’re going on my list of best doughnuts in the world, right below Britt’s beachside doughnuts in North Carolina.

After wolfing down the fresh doughnut, I filled a shopping basket with eight (yes) Tokyo Banana boxes and headed home to New York.


I discovered in the past year that there are now (unofficial) ways of getting Tokyo Banana in the US. Yamibuy, a large online purveyor of Asian foods and other products, hosts third-party sellers who will ship Tokyo Banana boxes to my (and possibly your) eager hands, with a couple of caveats.

First, they cost a lot more. A box of eight original-flavor Tokyo Banana cost me ¥1,166 Japanese yen in Tokyo (approx $8.96 USD at current rates). The same box through 3rd party sellers on Yamibuy is $21.00 USD plus shipping. The other caveat is shelf life. Expiration dates printed on the box run about 1-2 weeks from the date of purchase. 3rd-party purchases are likely going to be nearly at or past the expiration dates, which isn’t recommended. But I have eaten many TBs well past the expiration dates (sometimes more than a month), and they were still tasty. Not quite like the ones I just hauled home from the source, but not bad! (Desperate junk foodies resort to desperate measures.)

Some vendors sell via Amazon, but in my experience, those have been even more expensive and more of an expiration date gamble. Check local shops that sell Asian snacks and sweets, as well. Sometimes they pop up there. And, of course, strong-arm anyone who’s going to Japan into bringing you back some from their travels.

And I live in hope that someday, I’ll be able to hop over to Grand Central and buy a box of Tokyo’s signature treat.

REVIEW: Banner Butter x Pop-Tarts Limited Edition Kit

Buttertarts1 pkg

What is the Banner Butter x Pop-Tarts Limited Edition Kit?

Apparently, slathering butter on your freshly-toasted Pop-Tarts is a thing? I had no idea. As the person who believed for 20+ years that I had invented dipping Wendy’s fries into Frostys, I really should have known.

Buttertarts2 contents

Atlanta-based Banner Butter teamed up with Kellogg’s to make a combo kit of Pop-Tarts’ most iconic flavors and two small pats each of six Banner’s flavored butters. The packaging had suggested pairings, which is what I tried (with a couple of additional twists).

Buttertarts3 butter

How are they?

First up – Strawberry Pop-Tart with Sea Salt Butter. This was the basic proof-of-concept. And yeah, it was delicious. The butter gave the commercially-bland Pop-Tarts’ pastry the flavor of real, laminated pastry dough. (But did we need that?)

Buttertarts4 pats

Next, Strawberry Pop-Tart with Balsamic Fig and Caramelized Onion Butter. This was my favorite of all the butters – a nice sweet/savory combo. It gave the Pop-Tart a flavor complexity it usually lacks.

Buttertarts5 strawb

Then, Chocolate Fudge PTs with Cinnamon, Cardamom & Ginger butter and Honey Habanero butter. The Cinnamon/Cardamom/Ginger butter was great, but the chocolate overwhelmed it a bit. The Honey Habanero butter gave the chocolate a dark intensity and a little heat – similar to a chili-tinged Mexican hot chocolate.

Buttertarts6 fudge

Lastly, the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts with Strawberry butter and Dark Chocolate butter. These were both meh. The strawberry got lost in the cinnamon, and the dark chocolate just tasted like added cocoa powder.

Buttertarts7 cinnamon

Brown Sugar Cinnamon PTs are one of my favorites, so I also tried them with the Balsamic Fig & Caramelized Onion butter and the Cinnamon, Cardamom & Ginger butter. They both worked way better than the suggested pairing. Balsamic Fig brought the same complexity as it did to the strawberry PTs. The Cinnamon, Cardamom & Ginger butter added an “adult” feeling. Both great butters.

Overall, I really liked some of the flavors here, but wasn’t sure about the “upgrading” of PTs. I love Pop-Tarts in all their naked, untoasted glory. If I wanted something that tasted like a fine French pastry, I’d just go buy the real thing. Give me my pasty pastry in a foil bag. That being said, Kellogg’s, why aren’t you just doing this yourselves? Cinnamon Cardamom & Ginger Pop-Tarts? Spicy Chocolate Pop-Tarts for winter? C’mon.

Buttertarts8 combos

Anything else you need to know?

This kit sold out a while ago, but you can get the same experience ordering Banner Butter and purchasing Pop-Tarts at the store. Or buy other butters. Or make your own compound butter – just soften some butter, mix in the good stuff, and let it sit in the fridge.


If you’re a Buttered-Pop-Tarts stan, this fancy-butter-combo is definitely for you. If you’re just hearing about it, give it a whirl with whatever you have on hand. If you like your Pop-Tarts lowbrow like I do, try it for fun, but don’t expect it to become your regular thing.

Purchased Price: $25.00
Size: (3) 13.5oz / 8-pastry boxes of Pop-Tarts, (12) 2 tbsp. pats of butter
Purchased at:
Rating: 7 out of 10 (although the Balsamic Fig and Cinnamon Butters alone are 9 out of 10!)
Nutrition Facts: (For butters – 2 tbsp or ½ of a pat) Sea Salt – 100 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, including 0 grams of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein. Balsamic Fig & Caramelized Onion – 110 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, including less than 1 gram of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Cinnamon, Cardamom & Ginger – 110 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, including less than 1 gram of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Honey Habanero – 110 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, including 0 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Strawberry – 110 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, including 0 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Dark Chocolate – 110 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, including less than 1 gram of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats 1

What are Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats?

The breathlessly-fawned-over, on-off seasonal Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal spinoff Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch has collided with the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Treats. You got your limited edition cereal in my cereal treat bar! You got your cereal treat bar on my limited edition cereal!

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats 2

How are they?

I only recently tried Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch for the first time, and while I found it a tasty cereal, it wasn’t as good as the OG CTC or French Toast Crunch. I hoped these treats were a better showcase of its subtler (weaker) charms.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats 3

Sadly, they were not. Much like the CTC Treats, the texture had a stale cereal feel. The buttery vanilla flavor of the cereal was there, but without that signature SCTC blizzard-thick layer of granulated sugar, a good amount of the magic was missing. The milk-frosting bottom and drizzle didn’t do much in any direction.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats 4

However, I will give these treats an extra point for the small sizing. As I’m trying to avoid having to buy larger pants in January, I appreciated the 1” x 4” size, which racks up a fairly small calorie count. If you’re physically incapable of putting down an open food like I am, this is great.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Mini Treats 5

Anything else you need to know?

Why are you all still freaking out over SCTC when Apple Pie Toast Crunch exists now? Are you insane? If I don’t see Apple Pie Toast Crunch Mini Treats in stores next winter, I will RIOT. I mean it. I don’t have kids, so I’ve got lots of time on my hands.


If you’re a SCTC fanatic, by all means, try these, but be prepared for a chance of disappointment. If you’re meh on SCTC, you might want to pass. And if you’ve got the good sense to love APTC more than any of those, definitely hard pass here.

Purchased Price: $8.98
Size: 17.5 oz box (35 bars)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bar / 14g) 60 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugar, including 5 grams of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jet-Puffed S’moagie S’mores Sandwich

Jet Puffed S moagie 1

What is a Jet-Puffed S’moagie?

Jet-Puffed Marshmallows has partnered with Italian sandwich shop and “best sandwich in New York City” list frequenter Alidoro to crank out a s’mores/prosciutto hoagie mashup in honor of National Sandwich Day. I’m not sure why marshmallows need to muscle in on Sandwich Day, but here we are. I’ll be on the lookout for a Heinz Ketchup collabo on National Toasted Marshmallow Day next August 30th. (Marketing execs, this is a joke. Don’t do it. But if you do, I’ll be there.)

Jet Puffed S moagie 2

Jet Puffed S moagie 3

Alidoro created a graham-cracker-glazed hoagie roll, slathered it with sea salt dark chocolate spread, layered on some toasted/melty Jet-Puffed marshmallows, and topped it with thin, crispy prosciutto.

Jet Puffed S moagie 4

How is it?

First, a word for the sweet-salty averse: CALM DOWN. IT’S GOING TO BE FINE. WE’LL GET THROUGH THIS.

This was a really tasty sandwich. The graham-cracker roll was like sweet bread, and the marshmallows were a perfect consistency – melty and stringy, but not on a mission to ooze all over my hands and clothes. At first, I thought it was a little on the small side, but in retrospect, it was exactly the right amount of sandwich.

Jet Puffed S moagie 5

The chocolate flavor was so dominant here that the prosciutto actually faded into the background (for better or worse, depending on your personal POV). I’ve had a lot of bacon-laced sweets in my time, and I was expecting it to pack more of a savory punch. A tad disappointing. However, I noticed when I got down to the end of the sandwich, there was less marshmallow and chocolate, so the prosciutto stood out more, which I liked.

Jet Puffed S moagie 6

Anything else you need to know?

If you’re in New York City, hit the Alidoro locations at Rockefeller Center or Bryant Park to buy a S’moagie in person. The rest of the nation can order a S’moagie kit on Goldbelly, but at a higher price point. Now before you whine about the unfairness of that, just remember New Yorkers pay a staggering amount to live in sky-high shoeboxes, and every one of us has a story about a crazy place where we’ve found a cockroach. Easy access to the S’moagie is the trade-off.

Jet Puffed S moagie 7


A fun, delicious combo! As-is, probably more suited for sweet-salty newbies. If you grew up putting salt on watermelon like me, it might be on the tame side. Adjust expectations…or bring extra prosciutto.

Purchased Price: $10.00 in-store
Purchased at: Alidoro Bryant Park
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not listed. Just assume it’s “a lot.”

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles

Kellogg s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles Box

What are Kellogg’s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles?

This time last year, Kellogg’s released a collection of frozen waffles that included flavors like Mermaid (Blue Raspberry), Unicorn (Cotton Candy), and Birthday Cake. This year, raspberry-flavored Narwhal waffles have joined them.

What in tarnation is a narwhal you ask? Unlike mermaids, unicorns, and the mythical “birthday cake,” narwhals are real. They’re medium-sized whales with a single, long horn (tusk) on the front of their heads. I hear they taste like raspberries, hence the waffle flavor.

Kellogg s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles Closeup

How is it?

These blue-green raspberry waffles looked an awful lot like the blue raspberry Mermaid waffles from last year. Suspiciously alike. But did I even care? I loved the Mermaid (and the Unicorn) waffles. So even if they were simply a retread, I’d be happy.

Kellogg s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles Berries

And they were a retread – woo hoo! The same fruity-eggy aroma, really fun teal hue, and sugary raspberry flavor. They were thick waffles that toasted nicely, and something about the octagonal shape was so satisfying. I couldn’t hate on these, even if the narwhal was just a mermaid in a new costume.

Anything else you need to know?

The back of the box asked me to “check out all our other fun waffles,” but only showed Unicorn and Birthday Cake flavors, so I’m thinking Narwhal is a replacement for Mermaid. Mermaids are SO 2020.

Kellogg s Narwhal Raspberry Waffles Back


I loved these! You will too if you’re a fan of: cute things, sparkly things, pink/blue/purple things, things that taste like someone lightly rubbed a Jolly Rancher on them, things that taste like last year’s things lightly rubbed with Jolly Ranchers, 8-sided things, things to put in the toaster and forget are there, things that make other people ask why they exist, or things that are unapologetically happy.

Purchased Price: $2.96
Size: 11.oz box (6 waffles)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 waffle) 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of total sugars, including 7 grams of added sugars, and 3 grams of protein.