Photo: © grape Japan

Japan Invents Microwaveable Potato Chips… Because It Can

(Updated with information on product recall)

At first, the idea of microwaving a bag of potato chips doesn't sound right, even here in Japan. After all, we're not talking about fries, hash browns, baked potatoes or any other type of potato product where there are still some soft parts which could be made more appetizing by being served warm. Eating something warm but dry just doesn't sound so enticing. That's why Calbee's new Renji de Poterich Rich Butter and Soy Sauce flavor microwaveable potato chips caught many Japanese consumers by surprise.

photo by © grape Japan

But thanks to a special microwave-safe bag and, most importantly, a specially developed blend of seasoning, it turns out that heated chips can not only rival unheated ones, in this case they taste even better. We know because we tried a bag for ourselves!

A closer look at the front reveals a panel usually not found on potato chip bags: microwave instructions. In this case, it's 40 seconds at 500w or 600w.

photo by © grape Japan

Flipping the bag over reveals more detailed instructions. Create a 2 cm incision in one side to let out steam, heat in the microwave, then eat. Sounds simple enough...

photo by © grape Japan

There's a helpful cutting line and even a mark to show you where 2 centimeters are.

photo by © grape Japan

And then, it's into the microwave she goes!

photo by © grape Japan

When we opened the bag, the aroma of butter and soy sauce filled our nostrils, inviting us to try the chips inside...


photo by © grape Japan

Before we knew it, other staff members had gathered around, eager to sample this new snack concept.

photo by © grape Japan

Needless to say the chips didn't stay in the bag very long...

2/22 Update: Product Recall

In an unfortunate turn of events, Calbee announced it is recalling this product and cancelling the the pizza cheese flavored version they intended to put on shelves from March 12th. It would seem they received customer complaints about "burning" and "smoke and flames." It's not clear how many complaints there were and whether or not the customers who filed the complaints followed the instructions on the bag. However, as is often the case in Japan, Calbee preferred to err on the side of caution and immediately recall the product.

If you have purchased them already, please do not microwave them and call Calbee at 0120-55-8570 from 9:00 to 17:00 JST if you'd like a refund.

Although these chips are sadly gone from store shelves for now, one can only hope that Calbee will address the problem, make improvements and relaunch the product at a future date.

By - Ben K.