One of the greater ironies in the war of attrition that is keeping my 5-year-old fed is that, though he refuses to eat anything green — broccoli, kale, pity the lettuce — I often find him crouched near the snack cupboard devouring roasted seaweed on the DL. Let the record show: They’re green.
Kid Food Origin Story: Seaweed snacks floated into the snack cupboards of America in the mid-aughts on a wave of fad foods (remember açai? Greek yogurt?). Unlike some other foreign foods that were given brief prominence at Trader Joe’s, seaweed snacks stuck. And there’s a fairly clear reason why: They are very good. They are also — and this is a separate concept — pretty healthy. Seaweed snacks contain high quantities of Vitamins A, C, B-12, and calcium. Though the snack has somewhat evolved over the last decade, it remains, in its most basic execution, sheets of dried and roasted nori. The most popular brand in my house is Annie Chun’s Organic Sea Salt Seaweed Snacks. Still, competition remains fierce and GimMe Snacks Organic Seaweed Thins, specifically the almond-sriracha version, have tested well with the one-boy focus group that is my son.
Personally, I’m not a nori-head. I dig that my son is eating seaweed, but I have never had an inclination to join him, only to encourage him to eat something green so he doesn’t die. Given that, it would be fair to say that I have a respectful, but distant relationship with Annie Chun — I’ve never tried her product.
Kid Food Taste Test: The other day I dipped into my son’s snack cupboard and stole his seaweed snacks. I was curious, no one was around, and man, it was rad. The thing about these translucent green wafers, other than their shocking beauty when held up to the light, is that the taste, though toothsome, is really a minor part of the appeal. The sheets are thin and brittle. I’ve never taken the sacrament, but this is how Jews like me (probably wrongly) imagine the elemental satisfaction of that experience. The rigidity of the nori softens, not with the crunch of a Dorito but with the gentle give of fresh snow. These snacks are not chewed so much as held.
My son and I agree — and, yeah, we had a long discussion about it — that the taste appeal of seaweed snacks lies in their salinity (my word, not his) and ocean-ness (his, not mine.) But more, we agree that the appeal lies in the way the taste seems to materialize lightly on the roof of the mouth and then cling to the natural topography in a pleasant way. The taste is hardly overwhelming. It’s something closer to tidal, but never fishy or problematically marine.
Kid Food Conclusion: The appeal of a roasted seaweed snack is as vast and deep as the ocean from whence it came. Unlike the ocean, however, they must be dry. Pre-saliva’d or damp and they’re just a reminder that soggy is never a good look.
Kid Food Rating: Five out of five “poopie poops,” as rated by my son, who is a work in progress.