People in South Korea have probably heard of the infamous Honey Butter chips. Released in August 2014 by Haetae Confectionery & Foods Company, they have been gaining immense popularity since their release, not only in South Korea, but also in America. However, these chips are not worth the hype.
Haetae says that the tastes of French butter and acacia honey in these chips are what makes them so appealing.
While Korean companies believe that a snack item is successful if it makes ₩1 billion monthly, Honey Butter chips have made more than ₩5 million. Racks of the chips are often empty within 10 minutes of getting restocked in markets, and markets have put a limit of two bags per customer.
Honey Butter chips have been so hard to find due to their popularity that people have turned to extreme measures to obtain them. There is even a smartphone application that tracks where the nearest Honey Butter chips can be found. Even today, five months after their initial release, Honey Butter chips are not easily found.
Yet some have wondered if the snacks are really worth the hype. Though they are certainly delicious, I think many have hopped on this bandwagon just because they are so elusive.
My friend that visited Korea recently came back and brought me a bag of these chips. Why they are definitely unique, I would not buy them again. Although they are different than other Korean potato chips, they are not something I would go out of my way to find. They just taste like slightly sweet Pringles.
Kyungmin Jun, a senior at Myongji University in Seoul, agrees with me.
“These chips are unique because of their sweet taste which isn’t common with potato chips in Korea,” said Jun, “but I don’t have the urge to go through the struggle of finding them. I don’t understand why people are so obsessed with just a snack.”
“These chips are good, but they’re not as good as I thought they would be,” Soyoung Jun, a senior at Hallym University in Chuncheon, said.
“I was expecting a lot since they are so popular,” Soyoung Jun continued. “I think their popularity will certainly decrease really soon when people realize these chips aren’t all that special.”
These chips have gone viral on social media as people have uploaded pictures of themselves eating them. People feel accomplished and proud when they obtain these rare chips, which further pushes people to find them. Koreans, including celebrities, have posted pictures of these chips. Due to the difficulty in obtaining Honey Butter chips, Koreans and Korean Americans alike have tried to make homemade versions by putting melted butter and honey over regular potato chips.
Overall, while these chips are popular to some extent because of their taste, a big portion of their popularity comes from their rarity and the tendency humans have in trying to get something that’s hard to find. Many other companies use this artificial scarcity technique, intentionally producing a limited supply to make items seem rare and increase demand.
Although I think they are worth the ₩2,500 ($2.32) they are selling for in Korean markets, these chips are definitely not worth the recent eBay selling price of $56.99 for three bags. Their popularity will certainly decrease with time.