I moved from the US to Asia. Here's what the 'American' section of a grocery store in Thailand is like.

·11 min read
oreos in thai grocery store
During my trip to Thailand, I explored a Bangkok supermarket and found a wide variety of Oreos.Katie Lockhart
  • I searched for American foods in a Bangkok supermarket during my trip to Thailand.

  • I rediscovered snacks from my childhood and found unique flavors of American classics, like Oreos. 

  • Many American products cost significantly more in Bangkok than they do in the US.

The international grocery stores in Bangkok carry a wide variety of well-known American brands.

american brands in thai grocery store in bangkok above freezer
The shelves at Villa Market were stocked with American brands.Katie Lockhart

I'm an American citizen who's been traveling around Asia for nearly four years.

Whenever I explore a new place, I'm eager to dive into the local cuisine and typically make a beeline for the street-food markets. But there are moments when I crave a familiar taste of home, like Tostitos chips dipped in a pint of Ben & Jerry's Phish Food.

Luckily, I found upscale grocery stores that carry classic American foods during my trip to Bangkok.

Many of the items were priced considerably higher in Thailand than they are in the US, but I was happy to shell out the extra Thai baht for them.

Here's what the American food selection looks like in Villa Market, an international grocery-store chain in Bangkok.

American products were stacked directly next to local brands.

bangkok grocery store sauce section
The international grocery store in Bangkok carried brands like Hidden Valley and Kraft.Katie Lockhart

Instead of being designated to a separate section of the grocery store, American brands were interspersed between local products.

So, for example, if a shopper is looking for Frank's Red Hot, they would find it in the sauce and condiment aisle.

In the snack aisle, I found Lay's in a variety of flavors, from Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese to Hot Chili Squid.

lays chips, shelves on the left and smoken salmon bag on the right
I discovered new flavors of Lay's during my trip to the Bangkok grocery store.Katie Lockhart

In Bangkok, travelers can find plenty of Lay's, a potato-chip brand that was founded in the US.

Villa Market sold some of the brand's staple flavors, like Classic and Sour Cream and Onion, but there were also some cool variations that seem worth trying.

Some of the flavors I saw included Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, Nori Seaweed, Hot Chili Squid, Spicy Korean Ramen, and Mieng Kam Krob Ros — a popular Thai snack consisting of dried shrimp, cabbage, peanuts, and chili wrapped in a green leaf.

Each bag was priced cost about $1.50.

The store also carried Doritos, but the selection was pretty limited compared to what I've seen in US grocery stores.

shelf of doritos in the bangkok grocery store aisle
There were several variations of nacho-flavored Doritos.Katie Lockhart

I have yet to find any Cool Ranch Doritos in Bangkok.

When I scoured the shelves at the international grocery store, I only came across three flavors, and they were all nacho-related: Nacho Cheese in a red bag, Nacho Cheese in a yellow bag, and Spicy Nacho Cheese.

Each one was priced at around $4.

Pringles came in flavors that were influenced by local Thai dishes.

Kellogg's pringle packages in thai market shelves
There were stacks of Pringles lined up on the Villa Market shelves.Katie Lockhart

I recognized the Pringles logo when I was walking up and down the Villa Market aisles.

The store sold canisters of the stackable chips, a product owned by the US-based Kellogg Company, in flavors that I'd never tried before, like Hot and Spicy Grilled Squid and Sweet Mayo Cheese.

It was interesting to see the local cuisine (mayonnaise is used in many Thai recipes, and grilled squid is a popular dish in the Asian country) incorporated into the snack.

Two of my favorite American foods, Kraft macaroni and cheese and Hidden Valley ranch dressing, were both on the shelves.

mac and cheese and ranch dressing at bangkok grocery store
I was thrilled to see some of my favorite American brands in Bangkok.Katie Lockhart

As an American living outside of the US, two of the most coveted foods I can find are Hidden Valley ranch dressing and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

They're not easy to get my hands on, but I found both items in the Bangkok supermarket.

A bottle of Hidden Valley ranch — which, in my opinion, is the best of the best — costs around $9.30. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be worth every penny.

As for the Kraft macaroni and cheese, one single box costs around $2.30. If you want to stock up, you can get a box of six microwaveable packs for about $6.

Cans of Manwich, an American sloppy Joe sauce, also caught my eye when I was in the grocery store.

two manwich cans on shelves at thai grocery store
There were cans of Manwich in the Bangkok grocery store.Katie Lockhart

The canned sauce, which is produced by US-based companies ConAgra Foods and Hunt's, is an all-American product, so I was surprised to see that it had made its way to Bangkok.

Lo and behold, Villa Market carried the original tomato-based version.

American breakfast cereals were available to buy, but they were really expensive.

american cereal brans in bangkok thailand, shelf on left and cinnamon toast crunch on right
The Bangkok grocery store carried a variety of American breakfast cereals.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market carried popular American breakfast cereals like Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Oreo O's — but shoppers should be prepared to pay a hefty price for them.

A single box of Cap'n Crunch cost about $11.50 at the supermarket, making it the most expensive cereal I saw on the shelf.

Because of the price tag attached to these cereals, I suggest swapping them for a local dragon fruit or ripe papaya instead.

Plenty of Oreos were available in Bangkok, and they came in all types of flavors.

three different packages of oreos in bangkok thailand
Some of the unique Oreo flavors in Thailand included strawberry creme, double stuf, and fizzy orange.Katie Lockhart

I've never had trouble finding Oreos abroad. Whether I've wandered into local convenience stores or large grocery chains, the cookies always seem to be in stock.

So even though I was expecting to see the popular American dessert in Bangkok, I was still surprised by some of the flavors.

One of the most unexpected combinations was the Fizzy Orange Oreos, described as "chocolate sandwich cookies with orange-flavored cream and orange-flavored candy" on the package.

Oreos at Villa Market cost $0.89 per package. For some reason, Oreo Thins were significantly more expensive at almost $11 per packet.

Dark-and-White Chocolate was one of the most intriguing Oreo flavors I discovered in Bangkok.

blakc and white oreos in thai grocery store
One of the Oreo flavors I saw in Bangkok was Dark-and-White Chocolate.Katie Lockhart

With a filling that was half dark chocolate and half white chocolate, the black-and-white treat was one of the many Oreo flavors I'd never seen before.

The packaging on the vanilla-flavored Oreos featured two animals native to Asia: a tiger and a koi fish.

oreos with dragon on the front on thai market shelves
Vanilla Oreos had a tiger on the front of the package.Katie Lockhart

Bangkok had such a wide sampling of Oreo flavors, but the box with vanilla cookies inside grabbed my attention. So, I decided to take a closer look.

The gold designs on the exterior showed a tiger and a koi fish, two animals that are found in Thailand.

Kit Kat bars, a classic American candy, came with a cool twist.

matcha flavored kit kat bag from bangkok grocery store
A lot of the sweets in Bangkok came in Matcha flavor.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market carried a bag of matcha-flavored Kit Kat bars, a wafer-and-chocolate treat produced by The Hershey Company, for about $5.30.

Matcha is a beverage made from grinding whole, partially shade-grown green tea leaves into powder.

The concoction originated in China during the Tang Dynasty. Eventually, Buddhist monks brought it to Japan, where it remains a large part of the country's culture. Now, the flavor is used in lattes, cocktails, and sweets across Asia and the wider world.

I noticed a lot of matcha-flavored candy in the Bangkok supermarket. After trying out the new flavor, I think I'll stick to the traditional milk-chocolate Kit Kats.

In the dessert section, I also came across Hershey's Mixed Berries and Salted Caramel Cocoa Creations.

hershey's chocolate on thai market shelves
American chocolate bars came in a range of flavors.Katie Lockhart

Not only did Villa Market carry Hershey's chocolate, but also the supermarket offered a fairly new product called Cocoa Creations, which is 49% cocoa.

For reference, the American brand's signature milk-chocolate bar is about 30% cocoa

When I reached the frozen-food area, I rediscovered American snacks that I hadn't seen since my childhood.

eggo waffles in thai grocery store
Seeing the Eggo waffles in Villa Market made me nostalgic.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market carried several products that I hadn't seen, or thought about, since I was a child.

The last time I ate an Eggo waffle was when my mom handed me a half-frozen one on my way to catch the school bus.

But in Bangkok, I found the waffles in flavors like Chocolatey Chip and Strawberry. Villa Market had Eggo bites and Eggo minis as well, and each product cost around $7 per box.

Villa Market also sold Lunchables, tiny meal kits that I ate when I was growing up in the states.

katie lockhart holding lunchable pizza flavor in bangkok grocery store
It had been years since I saw a package of Lunchables, a staple from my childhood.Katie Lockhart

I wasn't expecting to stumble upon Lunchables, the Kraft Heinz miniature meal kit I remember having as a kid, but Villa Market was stocked with the Extra Cheesy Pizza flavor.

The supermarket priced it at around $3.50.

I noticed Velveeta cheese slices in the freezer next to the Lunchables.

velveeta cheese slices on thai market shelves
Velveeta slices were available to pick up in Villa Market.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market carried a 16-slice package of the processed cheese, which came in its original flavor.

The frozen section also had packaged food from TGI Fridays, an American restaurant chain.

tgi frozen foods at thai grocery store
I wasn't expecting to see frozen foods from TGI Fridays in Villa Market.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market sold TGI Fridays' Cheddar-and-Bacon potato skins and Buffalo-Style chicken wings in its frozen section.

Cheez-Its, a popular American snack, came in a range of flavors.

cheez its on thai market shelves
The international grocery store had a variety of Cheez-It flavors.Katie Lockhart

In the Bangkok supermarket, Cheez-Its, also a Kellogg brand, were available to purchase in three flavors: Original, Bacon and Cheddar Duoz, and Extra Cheesy.

 

I was used to having Ritz crackers sandwiching cheese or peanut butter in the US, so it was cool to see them with a chocolate filling instead.

ritz crackers chocolate flavor on thai market shelves
I spotted chocolate-flavored Ritz Crackers in Villa Market.Katie Lockhart

From my experience in the US, it's much rarer to find Ritz crackers with chocolate filling. Peanut butter or cheese fillings are far more common.

Cans of Easy Cheese, an American spread, were lined up on the shelf.

easy cheesy spray cheese on thai market shelves
There was American spray cheese on the shelves.Katie Lockhart

Easy Cheese — an American product made of milk, whey, canola oil, cheese culture, and other ingredients — found its way onto the Bangkok shelves.

With one spray from the metal can, the cheddar-flavored blend oozes out and serves as a topping for crackers or nachos.

The store's beverage aisle was stocked with Coca-Cola products, like Sprite and Fanta.

fanta on thai market shelves
There was a variety of Fanta flavors at Villa Market.Katie Lockhart

The products' packaging was similar to what consumers see in the US, but some of the text had been translated into Thai.

 

The orange-flavored Gatorade wasn't orange at all.

gatorade  in thai grocery store
Travelers are likely to recognize the Gatorade logo in Villa Market.Katie Lockhart

When I was wandering around Villa Market, I spotted the company's signature lightning bolt and soon realized that I'd picked up a unique product.

The orange and citrus-flavored drink was sugar-free and, to my surprise, completely clear. In the US, orange-flavored Gatorade is bright orange.

American ice-cream brands came at a steep cost.

ice cream freezers at bangkok grocery stores
American brands like Ben & Jerry's were very expensive in Bangkok.Katie Lockhart

Villa Market sold major US-based ice-cream brands, like Ben & Jerry's and Häagen-Dazs. Even though I was thrilled to see them in Bangkok, I quickly realized that the pints didn't come cheap.

A single pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream cost more than $11.

ben and jerry's in thailand grocery store
Villa Market sold some of my favorite Ben & Jerry's flavors.Katie Lockhart

In my mind, ice cream doesn't get any better than Ben & Jerry's.

For a pint of popular flavors like Phish Food or Americone Dream the grocery store charged around $11.

This price tag is pretty consistent with what I've seen in other international stores that carry Ben & Jerry's outside of the US. In Australia, a pint is even more expensive.

But after spending some time in Bangkok's heat, the $11 I paid was worth it.

Read the original article on Insider