Have You Tried Bamba, the Israeli Puffed Peanut Butter Snack?


[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Note: Erin traveled through Israel on a 7-day eating tour thanks to Kinetis. She'll be writing all about her adventures—the food she ate (hummus; lots and lots of hummus) and the people she met—over the next few weeks.

It wasn't until the last day of my week in Israel that I finally tried Bamba. "Israeli kids grow up on this stuff," said Adi, who handed me a bag (and for some reason waited this long to do so). The packaging was all in Hebrew so I had not a clue what to expect from the puffed corn snacks. Israeli Cheez Doodles? Sort of, but not really at all.

Bamba first launched as a cheez-flavored snack actually back in 1963, but a year later, switched to peanut butter, and has since become one of the most popular snacks for kids in Israel.

They're kind of like tube-shaped Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs (the cereal), except saltier. And with each puff you crunch on, the saltiness builds. And there's something wildly addictive about that. "I just...can't stop eating these," said Max, who actually looked more perplexed than pleased. Like many others who've grown up on cheese puffs, he was awaiting the super savory bite of cheez-flavored powder, but it never came. Yet he kept eating more, trying to figure out if he actually liked Bamba.

One of the best and dirtiest parts is the dehydrated peanut butter dust that coats your fingers. You have no choice but to lick it off, finger by finger. The puff itself has a slightly styrofoamy texture, coating your molars as you chew. As with other puff snacks, it lives in the back of your mouth for a while.

Fellow Bamba enthusiast Ben hipped me to the halvah-filled Bambas. (Fairway, I've heard you carry them? Make my dreams come true, please?) Nougat-filled Bambas and Strawberry Bambas also exist.

Anyone else think Bambas are the bamb? (Sorry, had to.)