Weekend Special: A Stroll Through H-Mart in Murray Hill, Queens


Few things are more fun than stumbling on an unfamiliar supermarket and racing through the aisles examing products, conducting an impromptu, if hair-brained, cultural analysis. H-Mart–a Korean discount grocery and appliance complex, seemingly just three letters short of being a K-Mart–provided a recent opportunity. It lies in a strip shopping center near 156th Street and Northern Boulevard in Murray Hill. That’s in Queens, not Manhattan.

H-Mart provides a complete selection of ready-to-eat seagoing snacks, including this delectable tray of adolescent octopi. Gee, I wish they sold these in Gristede’s.

Westerners who find this Japanese infantile personification of mayonnaise as a kewpie doll repulsive may forget where the kewpie itself was invented–as an illustration for Ladies Home Journal in 1909 by Rose O’Neill. The character achieved its greatest popularity, however, when cast in celluoid in 1913, and thereafter given away as prizes at fairs and carnivals.


Packaging themes that originated in the West are clearly a popular selling point for Korean products. In this case baseball, for snacks shaped liked baseballs and filled with a dodgy chocolate fondant.

The chocolate in these baseballs proved below par.

The unfortunate spacing in the transliteration needs to be corrected.

This sentimentalized package–once again with a Western theme–depicts a Victorian-era child with fetishized feet and toothpick legs.

And finally, our pickle friend exhorts us to buy her brand of pickles–and eat her.

While you’re at it, check out our strange muster of gummy soldiers. That’s “muster,” not “mustard.”

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