Mango Oreos, Caviar Potato Chips a Hit Overseas

Food makers cater to international tastes as US snack market stagnates

Who wouldn't want caviar- and crab-flavored potato chips? Or All-Bran cereal served in hot coffee? Weird, but true: snack makers make odd flavors for international consumers in order to make big sales.

The Associated Press reports that the weird flavors aren't made just to cater to local tastes, but to make money. While lower demand for snacks has made the snack industry in the U.S. stall, snack sales in countries like China, Brazil, and Russia grew by 15 percent.

So American companies keep the weird flavors coming in. One example: Oreos in China. After Kraft began to research successful flavors in the Chinese market, the company reduced the size of the cookie, made it more like a wafer, and added green tea, mango, and blueberry flavors. The result: nearly 60 percent growth in a year, said Kraft.

PepsiCo has also had similar success story with Lays potato chips in Russia. After extensive research and traveling through the country, the company added crab, Red Caviar, and pickled cucumber flavors to the mix. The research found that because fish and pickled cucumber (a popular appetizer) are so important in the Russian diet, the new flavors are already a hit with customers. Guess that makes the Crown Crust pizza in the Middle East seem normal.

Update: Several U.S. food bloggers and critics joined the Associated Press in a taste-test of these weird international flavors; food critic legend Marilyn Haggerty said the pickled cucumber chips tasted "like an old garden hose." Yum?