As I found myself spending more time away from the States, I started craving certain things from back home in America. It’s true what they say: you want what you can’t have.
For instance, there are 7-11s on every corner in South Korea. But the one thing that makes 7-11 so special is missing. There aren’t any Slurpees in the Korean 7-11s. I don’t even know how it is possible to have 7-11s without Slurpees. That’s, like, part of their branding.
I hadn’t had a Slurpee in ages. In fact, it wasn’t ever something I frequently had back home in the States, and it hardly ever crossed my mind then. It’s just ice and artificial flavoring anyway, but something started to happen. Knowing that I couldn’t have it in Korea, I started craving it.
We would look in all the 7-11s we’d pass. Daniel would say, “Hey, it’s a big store. Maybe they have them in there.” (Or maybe that was me who said it.) We even started putting bottles of Coke in the freezer to try and recreate our own. It was never the same though. For a Slurpee to be thoroughly enjoyed, it needed to be in one of the brightly colored cups with the dome tops and that special straw. I eventually just gave up and admitted to myself that I wouldn’t ever be enjoying a Slurpee during my time in Korea.
Junior Mints, though, they have always had a special place in my heart. Every time I devour a box, it takes me back to eating them as a kid. They eventually became my go-to candy. (Plus, they’re fat free.)
It was soon after arriving in Korea, I started going through the Junior Mints withdrawals. I was jonesing for them, maaan. All I wanted was to sit on the sofa, and eat some of those creamy mint chocolates.
I then began my quest for Junior Mints while living abroad.
Korea has a majority of American candy, which was why I thought it was surprising I couldn’t initially find them. But then again, Junior Mints are a pretty underrated candy. It often gets overlooked by the Snickers and Twix lovers.
Each week as we’d go to the grocery store, I would search for my box of Junior Mints. No joy. I’d look in the 7-11s. No joy.
During our time in Korea, we learned about an expat store based out of Seoul, which also sold products online. I visited the website, and typed “Junior Mints” into the search bar. I pressed enter and waited for the results.
Zero results found. Here are some related products:
They had chocolate mint sticks! They had sugar-free after coffee mints! They had mint cookies! They had mint flavored mouthwash! They had peppermint tea! They even had two types of Andes Mints! I didn’t even know there were two types of Andes Mints!
But they didn’t have Junior Mints.
I was pretty disappointed, but I wasn’t going to give up just yet, and so I went Googling around. I found out about Korea’s version of Amazon and eBay. Lo and behold, they there were–for $20 for a box of candy. A fun-size box, no less. I had to pass. No matter how badly I wanted those Junior Mints, I couldn’t justify forking over that much money (not including shipping) for a fun-size box.
Months went on and we were soon planning our first trip to Seoul. We thought we should check the expat store out in person. Another opportunity to get my Junior Mints fix. I mean, who knows? Maybe they stock different items in the store.
I still continued to search for Junior Mints during my time there. But I knew all hope was lost. I tried to stay positive knowing we would soon be going to Bangkok, Thailand.
To go from Korea to Thailand and see how many Western imports they had was incredible. There was Rogue beer (all the way from Portland, Oregon!) There were Slurpees in the 7-11s. There were even Dairy Queens. If you had to think of a Western product, it was likely there in Bangkok. There just had to be Junior Mints.
How was this possible?!? I was at my breaking point. Soon I was going to have to tell my mom to ship me a care package–filled with Junior Mints (and flavored coffee creamer).
I still tried to stay positive knowing we would be in New Zealand next. I decided to do a little Googling beforehand. “Junior Mints New Zealand” Pressed enter. Awaited the results.
I stumbled upon a forum of people discussing if Junior Mints were available in the country. (These were my kind of people!) One of them mentioned they had seen them here (YES!) but it can be difficult. (NO!) Another said they found a box in a local Kmart. While others had to go searching at a specialty candy store.
I was elated after my research. I couldn’t wait to get to New Zealand. Not because there would be English everywhere, and not because of the wonderful landscape. Nope, but because of candy.
Arriving in New Zealand, one of the first things I made sure we did was check out the grocery store. I beelined for the candy aisle in search for my beloved box of Junior Mints. My eyes wandered up and down the shelves. All I could see was Cadbury.
I told Daniel we should go to Kmart (no relation to the American version), which was connected to a mall. I went in with high hopes, but didn’t go right to the candy aisle. I figured I’d be nonchalant about it, you know? I didn’t want to jinx it. We meandered throughout the store, and I kept trying not to think about it.
We eventually saw it: the candy aisle. Keeping cool, I started searching for the box I know so well: white with green blocked letters. But then I had a thought, maybe the box looks different here?! What if it’s a pink box with orange letters? I searched harder. I even had an extra set of eyes helping me look.
I left the store defeated. My head held low. My belly grumbling. I started whining to Daniel when something from a distance caught my eye: a candy kiosk. As we got closer, I noticed it specialized in American candy. There were Reese’s and Butterfingers and Crunch bars. There were Nerds, Fun Dip, and Sour Patch Kids. All the types of candy I forgot even existed! It was like I was back in a store in America. I really was a kid in a candy
And that’s when I saw the box I know so well: white with green blocked letters. Proudly sitting next to its sister, Junior Caramels. I wasn’t even indecisive about the purchase, didn’t even notice the price. I grabbed the box and went to the counter. The box of Junior Mints cost me nearly $5 NZD.
After being abroad for 15 months, I finally had my hands on a box of Junior Mints. I savored them one by one. It took me nearly 3 days to finish a box when back home it’d be gone in one sitting.
And they tasted just how I remembered them.
What are some things that you miss from back home when traveling or living overseas?
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