Democracy Wins In The Cereal Aisle
July 5, 2020 4:29 PM   Subscribe

In these uncertain times, it is reassuring to hear that a proven case of voter fraud has been corrected. I am referring, of course, to Kellogg's releasing Green Onion Flavor Chex in South Korea.

The whole thing began as a cute marketing stunt in 2004, when the South Korean division of Kellogg's wanted to promote its existing chocolate flavor. They hit on the idea of a mock "election", encouraging kids to vote online for the new mayor of Chex's "Chocotown". They would pit Chocolate Chex mascot "Chekkie," who promised "more chocolatey flavor", up against a challenger sure to fail - and they chose "Chaka", a mean-looking guy who campaigned on a platform of releasing a green onion flavor of Chex. Chocolate seemed like a shoe-in with kids, so they could safely announce Chekkie as the winner and roll out the Chocolate Chex as planned.

However - that's not quite how things happened. Green Onion Chex leapt to an early lead and stayed ahead, even when Kellogg's frantically eliminated several votes for "security reasons". Finally, the company panicked, said that they had also received a number of mail-in and phone-in votes for Chekkie at the last minute, and rolled out the Chocolate Chex.

But the whole thing left a bad taste (so to speak) in customer's mouths; for some, it was an unpleasant reminder of rigged political elections in South Korea's past. Others just found the whole situation a little shady. Over the next sixteen years, "Chaka" became something of a tongue-in-cheek meme in support of freedom, and each year on the anniversary of the "vote" some would use the hashtag "#PrayForChex".

Finally, this year, Kellogg's decided to give the people what they wanted. Earlier this month they posted an enigmatic clip of sliced scallions being sprinkled into a bowl of chocolate chex, as South Korean singer Tae Jin-ah sang "we're sorry, we're sorry...." A full-length ad came one week later, acknowledging the 2004 mis-step and announcing a limited edition release of green onion chex. That flavor hit the shelves just last week.

Early reports are that it's pretty lousy as a breakfast cereal. But some are experimenting with using it as a crouton-like addition to soups, or just having it as a savory snack. Either way, democracy has belatedly been restored.
posted by EmpressCallipygos (41 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Adding the quick personal note - I just heard about this today, as it's hit the news here in the US. And conveniently, my roommate is in Seoul right now, and is due to come out of the two-week quarantine in 3 days, and is due back in the US in early August. I have passed this on to him and encouraged him to pick up a box (I bet it would make a REALLY interesting addition to homemade Chex Mix).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:31 PM on July 5, 2020 [21 favorites]


I am delighted and would 100% eat green onion chex mix
posted by JDHarper at 4:42 PM on July 5, 2020 [25 favorites]


I might try breakfast cereal again if it was green onion flavored....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:43 PM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]




That actually sounds great! And not THAT weird of an idea - but then, I'm an American and I'm used to the concept of savory Chex, via the medium of Chex mix. Do they sell Chex mix (or make it) in South Korea, I wonder?
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:55 PM on July 5, 2020 [4 favorites]


A similar case also happened with Kellogg in Japan in 2012 when Kellogg announced vote for a cereal flavor, this time between chocolate and wasabi, for its Chocowa. Although wasabi flavor won by a landslide, Kellogg canceled the wasabi votes and went on to release the chocolate flavor.

How on earth did they not learn their lesson the first time?
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2020 [16 favorites]


obligatory
posted by sallybrown at 5:06 PM on July 5, 2020 [2 favorites]


Sounds like sour cream and onion Bugles to me. Maybe not for breakfast, but for a snack, sure, why not.
posted by praemunire at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2020 [8 favorites]


South Korean pastry chef and youtuber Sweet the Mi attempted to replicate Green Onion Chex yesterday. It didn’t go well.
posted by ardgedee at 5:15 PM on July 5, 2020


The lesson of Onions McOnionsface (that is, never even pretend to crowdsource any decision with a possible wrong answer) is universal!
posted by eponym at 5:39 PM on July 5, 2020 [23 favorites]


As someone who despises onions, I find this whole thing sounds like a horrifying taste nightmare.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:42 PM on July 5, 2020


One of the most horrifying things about people eating this as cereal is the ghastly specter of green-onion-flavored milk left over. But as a basis for Chex Mix, heck yes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 PM on July 5, 2020 [10 favorites]


[onions and green onions are totally different]
posted by ardgedee at 6:47 PM on July 5, 2020


I don’t know who decided that mini pretzels belong in Chex mix (ugh!), but I would welcome this into mine.
posted by sjswitzer at 6:47 PM on July 5, 2020 [4 favorites]


the ghastly specter of green-onion-flavored milk

If the milk cows find a patch of spring onions you'll have plenty of that for a while...
posted by jim in austin at 6:47 PM on July 5, 2020 [5 favorites]


[onions and green onions are totally different]

They're...both alliums? Green onions are just milder, maybe less sweet.
posted by praemunire at 7:15 PM on July 5, 2020 [7 favorites]


The lesson of Onions McOnionsface

If angry protest votes were allowed more often, but only in the arena of snack choices, I wonder what the world's political setup would be these days. As it is too many of us live in countries currently led by the human manifestations of Onions McOnionface.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]


What I do like about Onions McOnionsface is that they aren't just a surface level politician. They have complexity, and layers.
posted by hippybear at 7:24 PM on July 5, 2020 [7 favorites]


They have complexity, and layers.

Meh. Dig down deep enough, and there's nothing there under the last layer.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:45 PM on July 5, 2020


That's also how humans are, really.
posted by hippybear at 7:52 PM on July 5, 2020


Man that got dark fast!
posted by hippybear at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2020


We weep for humanity...
posted by eviemath at 8:03 PM on July 5, 2020


think, imagine, picture a juicy field of ribeye and a cool patch of chive near a well of magical dannish butter.
posted by clavdivs at 8:45 PM on July 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


think if you will a picture
of ribeye and chive engaged in a kiss
the sweat of magical dannish butter covers me
can you my darling?
can you picture this?
posted by hippybear at 9:04 PM on July 5, 2020 [5 favorites]


I'm stoned as fuck right now and I really want to make a casserole out of this
posted by sugar and confetti at 9:22 PM on July 5, 2020 [10 favorites]


I feel like I want an explanation on the use of "gg" as a tagline there at the end. Is there some Korean wordplay involved? Is it just that Starcraft influence?
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:48 PM on July 5, 2020


I'm stoned as fuck right now and I really want to make a casserole out of this

…..Ooh! You know what else might be good, using crushed-up green onion chex as a breading for fried fish or something!

BRB lemme see if I can get my roommate to fit in TWO boxes....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:57 AM on July 6, 2020 [6 favorites]


The weirdest part of this story for me is trying to comprehend Chex as a Kellogg’s cereal. A friend who works in international breakfast cereal engineering at General Mills said that General Mills probably only acquired the American rights for Chex from the original owners (Ralston), so Kellogg’s must have gotten part of the international market.
posted by Maarika at 6:29 AM on July 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


I've never seen green onions of the size of the ones in the commercial in the last link. They look more like leeks than green onions.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 AM on July 6, 2020


I wasn't familiar with the back story, which is pretty interesting, but I bumped into that commercial the other day and have been humming it since. I knew nothing of the singer Tae Jin-ah sang but he made a fan of me. But those green onions are pretty big so I was wondering as well - do they have a similar flavour to the green onions North Americans might be familiar with?
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:48 AM on July 6, 2020


> do they have a similar flavour to the green onions North Americans might be familiar with?

Adding on to anem0ne's explanation, the green onions typically found in North American stores are referred to as 쪽파 ("jjokpa" or "piece pa"). The root area is more bulbous than 실파. The difference is more noticeable if you try growing or planting the white root part left over after chopping off the green part to use in cooking. With the "silpa" no bulb forms, while with the "jjokpa" you'll eventually notice a garlic-like bulb forming.
posted by needled at 7:37 AM on July 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


Tae Jin-Ah (태진아) is a venerable trot institution. The song he sings in the ad is his 1990 hit "미안 미안해" ("Sorry, I am sorry"). The song has also been popular with S. Korean politicians as a campaign song, which likely contributed to its use in the ad.

Tae Jin-Ah singing some of his hits
posted by needled at 7:47 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


Thanks anem0ne & needled! I look forward to delving more into that sound.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:19 AM on July 6, 2020


Vegetable rice porridge is great for breakfast, and I bet green onion Chex would be delightful as crouton-equivalents on it. A triumph of cultural interplay, once the corporation catches up.

Also - thank you for the allium lesson, anem0ne! Bookmarking for late summer plantings.
posted by clew at 9:20 AM on July 6, 2020


Brings back memories of sham elections in high school, where the prankster contingent were overruled TWICE. In freshman year it was the class mascot ("ferocious roaches") and in senior year it was the graduation song (the Fresh Prince theme song). The memories are more bitter than the experience probably was. I suppose it's the increasing levels of election fuckery in the US, and my increasing awareness.

The vote is a lie if the organizers can just toss out results they don't like. I don't have a dog in the Chex fight, but I am a parent. I try hard not to retroactively apply "new rules" to the kids when they get creative within the letter of the law.
posted by lostburner at 9:28 AM on July 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


One of the most horrifying things about people eating this as cereal is the ghastly specter of green-onion-flavored milk left over.
I think the answer is clearly use sour cream instead of milk with this cereal.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 9:28 AM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Also, have just cha-cha’d around the house to the victory song, my day is starting off well.
posted by clew at 9:35 AM on July 6, 2020


The roommate just emailed me with a few notes and mentioned that he is already seriously considering shipping himself back his box of souvenirs to save space in his bags, so he may get a couple boxes of this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


think if you will a picture
of ribeye and chive engaged in a kiss
the sweat of magical dannish butter covers me
can you my darling?
can you picture this?


So this is what it sounds like when Chex cry?
posted by Mchelly at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2020 [5 favorites]


Someone alert us if it gets spotted at H-Mart.
posted by rewil at 12:14 PM on July 6, 2020 [5 favorites]


I would love some Green Onion Chex. I bet it'd taste delightful on chili.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:47 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


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