Hong Kong Stocking Stuffers

Stuffing stockings with candy canes and chocolate bars is boring. So every year I try to come up with some original ideas. One year I stuffed the stockings with drugstore items like toothpaste, dental floss, Q-tips, and Band-Aids. That didn't work out so well. Aggrieved parties are still whining about it, ten years later.

Then I discovered the bright and colorful snack packages at Hong Kong Supermarket. The first year I went a little too wild. Japanese sweetened tuna candies sounded like fun, but unfortunately they smelled like cat food. Nobody wanted to eat the squid chips either. But the tropical fruit gummi worms were very popular. And so were lots of the salty treats. So I refined the concept with careful shopping.

The variety of snacks at the average Asian supermarket is amazing. And I love the names. Who doesn't want to wake up to find a bag of barbecue-flavored Happy Peanuts in her stocking? Or (from left to right) shrimp chips, haw cheese (candies made from the hawthorne fruit), roasted watermelon seeds, Ding Dong savory snacks, candied mandarin orange peel, and (bottom) salted broad beans.

The statue of the Buddha dressed in red looks like Santa with a head shave, doesn't he? All he needs is a Coke.

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