The Taste of Defeat: Chex Flavor Hits South Korea

Green onion-flavored cereal had lost a contested consumer vote years ago
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2020 2:02 PM CDT
The Taste of Defeat: Chex Flavor Hits South Korea
Journalist Raphael Rashid poses with two cereal boxes, including the new green onion-flavored Chex cereal, in Seoul.   (AP Photo/Juwon Park)

South Koreans have waited 16 years for a savory, crispy bite that would satisfy their taste buds and right an infamous wrong. This week, they finally could fill a bowl with the cereal they wanted all along: green onion-flavored Chex. Kellogg's Korea's limited-edition flavor released this week, complete with a catchy ad and an apology for the wait, has taken on surprising cultural significance for an odd culinary experiment, the AP reports. In 2004, the company advertised a public vote for a new product: chocolate-flavored Cheki or green onion-flavored Chaka. Chaka led by an overwhelming margin, but duplicates were said to mar the online vote, and Cheki was declared the winner. Many South Koreans saw the outcome as more than a marketing mishap. "It's kind of representative of bigger issues in South Korean society," said Raphael Rashid, a Seoul-based freelance journalist.

The chocolate victory brought to the surface long-buried memories for Yoon Gunhee, who voted in the infamous election. She was 13 or 14 when she first saw an ad for the flavor election on the back of a cereal box. "At the time, I was young so I voted for chocolate," said Yoon, a freelance game graphic designer. She said she was amused this week by the lighthearted commercial for green onion Chex—featuring a popular South Korean singer declaring, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry that the green onion flavor arrived so late" and "the promise must be kept," with scientists in white gowns laboring to perfect the flavor. The video has racked up over 900,000 views on YouTube. "The rigged voting at the time was such an unpleasant experience,” she recalled. She was reminded of it whenever she saw a box of Chex. “I think I will be able to sort out my feelings after eating green onion-flavored Chex," she said.

(Read more cereal stories.)

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