A couple weekends ago, my friends and I stopped by what was advertised as a ‘European Market’ hoping to find some sweet European chocolate. Turns out, it was an Eastern European shop full of 90% Russian food. It was awesome.
The store had a huge selection of cheap Russian candy. In my short time at the market, I saw at least 3 people buy gigantic bags of candy with their groceries. I figured buying Russian candy must be the thing to do. So I selected one of each type of candy that looked delicious to me. Most of them had fruit on the label that I could not read, but one had a lobster, which intrigued me. I also bought some mushroom sauce, since my boyfriend likes mushrooms, and a marzipan bar for my boyfriend as well.
My friend’s mother who was with us started chatting up a nice Russian man to ask him for recommendations. He led her all around the store, and I followed them around a bit. On one aisle, he pointed the shelf with Cha Cha sunflower seeds. He said they were his favorite. I happen to love sunflower seeds myself, and I thought to myself “Of all the things in this store, this is one of the things he is recommending to me. They must be pretty good.”
So I bought them. They were indeed the best sunflower seeds I have ever had in my life. And let me tell you, I have had lots of sunflower seeds in my life. These BLEW my mind.
I thought I had discovered some amazing undiscovered secret, so I told my friends about them. One of my Chinese friends was far from impressed. He rolled his eyes and said that every Chinese kid knows about Cha Cha sunflower seeds. It made sense, the packaging was in Chinese.
Regardless I was entranced. While we were at the store I also learned of a Russian desert called halva, which is a sort of cake or pastry made from sunflower seeds. I got to try a sample, and it was awesome. “The Russians have sunflower seeds figured out,” I thought to myself.
When I had finished my bag of Cha Cha sunflower seeds (it didn’t take long, I eat them like crack) I returned once again to the Russian market to restock. This time, I was not messing around. I bought another bag of Cha Cha sunflower seeds, as well as a massive yellow industrial sized bag with Russian labeling. I opened the massive yellow bag in the car, eager to taste the sweet delicious seeds within.
And I was disappointed.
While still arguably better than the standard grocery store and gas station fare that I was used to, these were no where near the quality of the Cha Chas. And this bag, was massive. I opened the Cha Cha bag, to make sure my memory was not rose shaded. No contest, the Cha Chas were superior. I ate the rest of the Cha Cha seeds, then resolutely began to work on the yellow bag. It is a couple months later, and I am a little more than halfway through the bag. When I finish it, this time, when I return to the Russian market, I know to only go for the Cha Chas.
What Makes Cha Cha Sunflower Seeds Better
In every American sunflower seed brand I have ever eaten (let me clarify that I am only including seeds IN shell sunflower seeds) there are many duds. Seeds that are rotted, or burned, missing, or even sometimes, with roasted bugs inside. I have been through two bags of Cha Cha sunflower seeds, and not a single seed was a dud. Every single seed was a gloriously perfect specimen.
Some may say that all sunflower seeds taste the same. Those people would be WRONG. I have lived my entire life eating American gas station and grocery store sunflower seeds. But until I tasted ChaCha sunflower seeds I never actually knew what a sunflower seed could taste like. ChaCha sunflower seeds are literally tastier. I imagine it is like eating craft singles your whole life and then suddenly having real sharp cheddar, or a nice Gouda, and realizing that this is what cheese was meant to be.
Also, Cha Cha sunflower seeds have SO MUCH LESS SALT. And it is marvelous. I always took it as a given that part of the experience of eating sunflower seeds was having your tongue burn with salt overload. Cha Chas have just a hint of salt, enough to accent the flavor, but not so much that you feel like your tongue is burning after an hour of eating them.
If you like sunflower seeds, find Cha Cha brand sunflower seeds and try them. I recommend it.