In case it’s escaped your notice, something momentous happened last weekend. Well, to be honest, it would be quite hard for it to escape your notice, because unless you’ve managed to sleep for 72 hours straight (senpai please teach us your ways if you can do this), you probably would have seen some tanks rolling through your neighbourhood and some jets flying overhead.
This can only mean one of two things. The first possibility being that those dastardly Malaysians have finally gone and done it. That is to say, they’ve decided they’ve had enough of their uppity, uptight southern neighbour and have finally come to get us to rejoin the Federated States by force.
Clearly, that’s not the case. Not only because I just called them dastardly, but mainly because I haven’t yet received a call from the Army to take up arms, to defend hearth and home against an invading force.
But mostly because we’re still calling prata ‘prata’, instead of ‘canai’. Praise be to liberty, it’s still as dry and crispy as a biscuit. No, we don’t want your damn fluffy prata, barbarian northerners. Do we look like savages to you? And by god, we’ll have our prata with a mountain of white sugar on top of it if we want to, damn it.
So anyway, since we’re not all going to have to trade in our red passports for a darker red one, it could only mean it’s National Day again. The 55th one, in case you’re wondering.
To celebrate this occasion, and to give thanks for being able to eat crispy prata with sugar, Glico (don’t let the fact it’s a Japanese company distract you) is celebrating with celebrated chicken rice purveyors Wee Nam Kee to produce some Pretz.
Chicken rice Pretz, fellow Snackdowners.
Let that sink in for a moment. One of our national dishes in snack form.
The more studied Snackdown reader (I’m talking to all three of you) will no doubt remember last year’s Pocky (the sweet fraternal twin of Pretz) collab with Ya Kun, which gave us the twin blessings of Kaya Toast and Kopi-O.
Enough dithering, onto the main event, and let’s start with the packaging, the cornerstone of any good snack.
… And it’s not great. The box illustration, of the chicken, rice and condiments, looks like a drawing trying its hardest to look like a photograph. Or a photograph that somehow really let itself go and is now content to look like an illustration.
That said, there’s the all-exclusive Singapore exclusive starburst (the graphic, not an actual supernova) in the corner of the box, which marks it out as a product that’s as Uniquely SingaporeTM as kiasuism, prata and uh, chicken rice.
But who cares about what the packaging looks like when it’s what’s inside that matters?
I mean, after all, didn’t your mother tell you that appearances don’t matter?
Clearly, this is advice I’ve not heeded, because contrary to what you told me, Mum, looks do count for quite a lot.
How else do you think I got to be the Snacktivist? No, I got there on the back of my devastating good looks, sharp dress sense, searing wit and disarming charm.
And the fact I drew the short straw when they asked who would like to debase themselves with un-food on a regular basis.
So, the way Wee Nam Kee chicken rice Pretz tastes, then. The best way to describe it would be like the illustration on its box. In that what you see on the box is a pretty close approximation of what you’re gonna get.
I don’t mean this literally, of course, but in spirit.
Remember what I said earlier about the box art (I use the term ‘art’ loosely)? If you squint, you just might see some chicken rice in its natural habitat, but what it mostly looks like is like someone took a photo of chicken rice and then went ham with the blur filter.
Yeah, this Pretz tastes like that as well.
Therefore, if your tastebuds could squint, inasmuch as they are capable, you just might be able to detect some chicken rice flavours in there. Sure, you can pick up echoes of soy sauce, garlic and ginger if you try hard enough, but un-squint and it’s gone. Like tears in rain.
It’s a brave attempt, to be sure, and thoroughly commendable. But you don’t get Snacktivist endorsements for brave attempts.
Still, I am proud of what our tiny nation has achieved. Not everybody can lay claim to having a Pretz collab. Certainly not our brothers from another mother from up north, so let it be known that it’s something that we will defend to the last person.
To paraphrase Winston Churchil: We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the Causeway (or Second Link), we shall fight in the HDB heartlands and in the shopping malls, we shall even fight on Orchard Road; we shall never call our roti prata roti canai.
10-word review: If you try hard enough, it might taste like chicken rice.
Best paired with: A proper plate to chicken rice, to remind you of what the actual thing tastes like.