Play that funky music, white boy

By Mir
May 5, 2006

Chickadee used the Vulcan mind meld this morning to discover that I’d been angsting about her brother. She then exacted her revenge by rotating her head a full 360 degrees several times before she even made it down to breakfast. It really helped me to put things in perspective. (And by “put things in perspective,” I mean “made me want a stiff drink.”)

Nevertheless, I didn’t lock her in the attic or even threaten to cancel her birthday party. I got the kids off to school and turned my attention back to The Birthday That Never Ends (wasn’t her birthday WEEKS ago??) and final party preparations.

(Actually, first I did some work, and then went out for a “quick” 6-mile walk, wherein I burnt my shoulders into crispy cinders because I forgot that it’s sort of almost summer. Details.)

So here’s the thing about a martial arts party for a group of girls: The thematic stuff is HARD. There’s just not a lot that lends itself to the theme easily. And because Tae Kwon Do is a Korean discipline, I thought it would be nice to bring in a Korean element.

Sing it with me!
It’s fun to be a mom WIIIIITH O C D!
It’s fun to be a mom WIIIIITH O C D!
You make everything go together just right.
Otherwise you freak out all night!


So, after a lot of thought, and research, and basically just running out of time, I decided that if I could find an Asian grocery store, I could probably buy some Korean candy. Or some other kind of Asian candy. Which would sort of be a tie-in, or at the very least, a novelty.

I have never felt quite so white and ethnocentric as I suddenly did when I made this decision. Oh, hey–Korean, Asian, WHATEVER! Those candies all look the same! Yeesh. I have no excuse. I suck.

So I let my fingers do the walking and I found a local Asian grocer. I headed on over and wandered around for a bit before asking for help.

Me: Hi, um, can you help me?
Grandmotherly Japanese Clerk: Yes, sure. I help you.
Me: Great! I’m looking for Korean candy. Do you have any?
GJC: Korean candy?
Me: For, um, goody bags. For a party. For kids.
GJC: Not Korean. Japanese, Chinese. No Korean.
Me: Okay, that’ll work. Could you help me pick a few things?
GJC: Yes, sure. You try sample! This very good!
*I try a candy she hands me from a dish on the counter. It’s lemon flavored and yummy.*
Me: Mmmm that’s good, where are those?
GJC: Those are… hmmm… I don’t know! Not over here? I think we out of those.
Me: Heh. Okay, that’s fine, what else do you have?
GJC: Oh, kids love these! Rice crackers! You buy these!
Me: Okay. What about this? Is this candy?
GJC: That not candy. Sour. Kids not like, probably.
Me: Alright. What about… this?
GJC: That… I don’t know.
Me: One of the ingredients is “haw.” Is that English? I don’t know what haw is.
GJC: I… not sure.
Me: Okay, let’s skip that one! What about the bag over there?
GJC: Yes! Candy! Has… how you say… fruit flavors!

And so the discussion went. I spent about twenty minutes making my selections, guided by my new friend. She was kind enough not to laugh her ass off at my obvious cluelessness. And I don’t think she sold me anything containing pickled octopus brains or anything like that. I hope.

Tonight I made little treat bags from the goodies I’d bought, to throw in with the party favor bags. I also tried each of the items I’d bought, so I’d know what I was giving out.

Flower's Kiss Candy
The Flower’s Kiss hard candy from Japan comes in pretty little wrappings (with flowers, natch) and tastes like your basic hard candy. Other than the fact that it lists red cabbage as a colorant, I’d not know it from every other American hard candy I’ve ever had.

Passion Chewy
It might be a bit difficult to read the writing on the package, but this is “Passion Chewy” from Taiwan. (After rigorous market research it was determined that the original name, “Barf Fruit,” just didn’t bear out in terms of consumer appeal.) Despite the dubious name and disturbing illustration, this candy is sort of like a stale Starburst in an unexpected flavor.

Puffed Rice Rolls
I bought this one purely because I found that the cheerful creatures on the packaging induced a state of euphoria if you looked at them long enough. These are Pineapple Flavored Puffed Rice Rolls, and while I couldn’t taste any narcotics in them, maybe it was covered up by the pineapple flavor. I’m sure they’re in there, though, because I assume those happy cartoons are supposed to be pineapples and I am here to tell you that THEY ARE FAT EARS OF CORN. And they don’t even KNOW. Or CARE. Because of the drugs. It’s certainly not the rice rolls making them that happy, because they taste like pineapple-tinted packing peanuts. Still, I felt happier, and I plan to sleep with the wrapper under my pillow from now on.

Thai Pan Pan Rice Crackers
Last–but certainly not least–we have the Thai rice crackers that my friend the clerk insisted I must buy because “everyone eats them.” I suspect that everyone eats them because the shape resembles that of Nutter Butters. Sadly, these are not Nutter Butters. These are Nutter Butter-shaped slabs of crunchy air. According to the package, these particular rice crackers are coconut flavored. I couldn’t taste it. Or anything else. Let’s hope all the kids are so excited by the novelty factor that they don’t notice.

But you know, they’re 8. They’re probably going to open the goody bags and figure the “weird” candy is something I got at Big Lots because I was too cheap to buy Snickers and Twizzlers.

On the other hand, the only English on the packaging is on the outer bag. Everything the kids are receiving is covered with characters. Soooo… maybe we just tell them it’s all Korean candy. Shhhhh, do not tell.


  1. ben

    a) I wish you were my mom
    b) I’m singing the song, just for you
    c) amd I singing it right?

    Chickadee doesn’t know how good she has it!

  2. Susan

    Mmmm, now I want some Nutter Butters . . .

  3. DebR

    Whatever that so-called fruit is that’s pictured on the passion chewy bag, it’s scaring me. I think that thing is alive. And alien.

    The candy wrappers are pretty though.

  4. andi

    My brother is currently living in China. On a recent trip home he brought my kids some Chinese “treats”. Once they opened the package they discovered sticks of dried fruit that looked exactly like sticks of gum wrapped in thin paper. Even the paper was edible. The dried fruit however… I guess it was edible because no one keeled over… The kids have learned not to be so eager to eat any “treats” from Uncle John!

  5. Cele

    I had this really great reply (it was really good just ask me) but I for got that I wasn’t in ICQ or the chatroom and when I tab entered it dissappeared.

    In summation it was something like this.

    When they complain about the taste tell them it is because they are from the land of good refind sugar and artificial flavorings and should be sad for the little kids who go without.

    Have you thought about getting head bands like in Karate Kid only maybe a little less Japanese in style?

  6. sumo

    My mom’s parents moved here from Japan and mom was born in California. We grew up very standard midwest-american, but did experience a number of asian snacks on the way. There are a few varieties (as in shapes and flavors) of those crackers and, from what I can tell, everybody does eat them. They usually have some kind of tangy coating that is like crack for me. Some are bland (sounds like yours) and some are very hot. The only real candy I remember were these little square chewy things that were wrapped in a clear wrapper and again in a paper wrapper. The cool thing was the clear wrapper that looked like plastic was made of rice and was edible with the candy. You popped it in your mouth and the pseudo plastic just melted.

    OK, I have to admit that when it comes to candy, the asians have nothing on the europeans and americans.

    I don’t think we ever had an asian-themed birthday party in my house, though we did have teriyaki chicken sometimes. I remember at least one star trek themed party. Yeah, I started my geekdom early. Mom made an AWESOME pin-the-ear-on-Mr.-Spock game. Actually, those are the only themed parties I remember having. The other times were just having friends over, playing, eating, etc. Of course, being born on July 3rd meant there were usually Independence Day type activities at my parties.

  7. hollygee

    Next birthday: Archie McPhee’s:

    Although they didn’t have anything martial arty, they do have a great supply of plastic sushi stuff. And other bizarre and weirdo stuff.

  8. chris

    to further the white ethnocentric theme I was going to suggest that you put the goodies in one of those take out boxes from the Chinese food store. Just for the cool factor.

  9. Katie

    Those are awesome! I so want to go into one of the many Asian markets around here (my kids’ school is about 30% Asian) but I’m too chicken.

  10. Sharkey

    My husband is Japanese (3rd generation), and even he feels like a whitey when he goes into those Asian stores.

    He has his favorite Japanese “treats,” but in my book that word is stretching it just a bit.

  11. diane

    Ha ha! This is a great entry. I am totally going to be an OCD mom someday. Thank god I’ll know where to go for unusually-themed party advice. ;)

  12. Dragon

    My Chinese neighbour loves to feed my kids, and she frequently gives them the last two things you have pictured there. Although the happy corn sticks we get are cheese-flavoured, not pineapple. Pineapple sounds kind of icky for those, but the cheese-flavoured ones just taste like big puffy cheetos. My neighbour likes to give the kids bucketfuls of treats at a time, so I currently have a few of those Thai rice cookies in my cupboard. Want me to mail them to you?

    For an Asian candy that everyone loves, look for “White Rabbit” candy. They’re individually wrapped chewy candy. The outer wrapping is not edible, but there’s an inner wrapping of rice paper around the candy that is fine to eat. They taste like sweet, vanilla-ish milk. Yummy! Don’t get the strawberry ones; the pink colour is appealing but the flavour is not.

  13. Heather

    Hmm…you could serve Kimchi. I am sure that’d go over terribly well heh.
    When I tried it, I thought it was super spicy, and my friend Hyun told me that it was about as mild as Kimchi gets. Apparently, I’m a wuss.

  14. Chickie

    Hey! That first candy was one of my favorites when I was a kid. There’s some kind of thing that I used to get when I’d go with my Mom to the Oriental market – it looked kinda like a candybar made out of seasame seeds and peanut butter, good stuff.

  15. bad penguin

    When I was in college one of my professors went to Japan for a conference and brought back what he thought was candy for us. It was in this lovely brightly colored package, but turned out to be dried fish cubes instead of candy. So you did better than him!

    Hope the birthday party went well.

  16. Heather Cook

    I couldn’t get into singing the OCD song because – damn you – I’m now singing “play that funky music white boy…” and cursing your name. What a horrible song for you to put into my head just before bedtime!

  17. Latte Man

    I am SO showing this post to my wife to prove to her that despite what thinks, I am NOT the only person in the world that goes OVERBOARD fretting about fitting everything within the THEME.

  18. Mom101

    This is hilarious! There’s an Asian market near one of the movie theaters we go to and it’s so fun getting all these things for the packaging and never quite knowing what you’ll find inside. Sort of like those Harry Potter Every Flavored Jellybeans – it looks like harmless green candy but actually it tastes like booger.

  19. Angel

    How did I not know there was a Theme Song for OCD Moms? Gosh.

    I am in awe of your themed-party abilities!!

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