Walmart Food Items You Can't Find In The US

Walmart store front
Walmart store front - Alexander Farnsworth/Getty Images

Walmart has become a household name in nearly every U.S. city, boasting budget-friendly shopping across a sweeping array of products. The massive chain offers essentials for the whole family, including everything from a grocery section to its own branded lines of clothing and household items.Outside of the U.S., there are Walmarts in 18 other countries, each with its own unique inventory of culturally specific products.

Perhaps the most famous of these are the Walmarts in China, which garnered attention online for selling bizarre collections of live animals and cuts of meat that wouldn't quite be at home in American stores. These international locations cater to the tastes of their local shoppers, resulting in some unusual finds that either aren't common or in some cases, aren't allowed to be marketed in the same way for patrons in the United States. Ranging from the oddly unique to the controversial, your next Walmart excursion probably won't include any of the following products.

Read more: The Most Mouth-Watering Aldi Items From Different Countries

Live Frogs And Turtles

Cooked frog dish
Cooked frog dish - Salvador-aznar/Getty Images

Found primarily in Chinese Walmarts, live frogs and turtles for consumption are displayed in large open-top tanks for customers to peruse, the way that lobsters might be in certain seafood restaurants here in the U.S. Not intended to be taken home as pets, these animals are often used in traditional Chinese dishes and are bred specifically to be eaten, as is the case for the soft-shelled turtles used in the widespread Asian dish, turtle soup. The frogs, on the other hand, are most commonly sought after solely for their legs, which can be incorporated into a variety of savory dishes including congees and stir-fries.

Interestingly, while shopping for these live animals isn't available in U.S. locations, it is possible to find frozen frog legs online and in Walmart stores in states such as Louisiana where they are a popular dish. Frog legs are typically fried, and are frequently described as tasting somewhat like chicken wings when prepared this way. (If you're now craving a Chinese-inspired chicken wing minus the frog, consider this Chinese five-spice wing recipe.)

Cantonese Chicken Feet

man eating fried chicken foot
man eating fried chicken foot - Viviang/Getty Images

A staple in Cantonese dishes, raw chicken feet can be picked up fresh from the Walmart butchers in most Chinese locations. Chicken feet are thought to be popular in part due to their high collagen content, making them beneficial to the skin (and relatively low in calories, for the nutrition-conscious!)

Above all, eating chicken feet and other less popular Western protein sources to ensure the use of the whole animal and minimize food waste is representative of the resourcefulness central to Chinese culture. This ingredient can be prepared using a variety of methods but is most often simmered alongside peanuts or cowpeas, or brined in various soy solutions before making it to the bamboo-covered serving dishes of Chinese dim sum houses. There are even recipes that fry the chicken feet into crispy seasoned snacks. While the ingredient may seem odd to some Americans, it is just as much a staple as the chicken breasts found in the grocery section of U.S. Walmarts.

Dolphin Damaging Tuna In Costa Rica

canned fish on wooden table
canned fish on wooden table - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

A controversial product reported in some of Walmart's Latin American locations is Suli brand tuna, a Mexico-based seafood processing company notorious for engaging in fishing that actively harms dolphin populations. The tuna fishing industry has often been the recipient of backlash from environmental activists, given the tendency for dolphins and various tuna species to congregate.

The fishing industry has long been using this relationship to its advantage, and some practice an aggressive form of fishing that traps, injures, and often kills the dolphins swimming alongside the desirable tuna. The variety of Costa Rican Walmart locations carrying the Suli brand tuna has triggered a media storm spearheaded by leaders of animal rights groups such as the International Marine Mammal Project.

This specific brand of canned tuna is not stocked in any U.S. stores, due to the stricter regulations on fishing practices, although the U.S. does not currently have an embargo on importing Mexican tuna that is fished under tighter restrictions. This means that in your local Walmart, you are far more likely to find all of the varieites of canned tuna offered by StarKist or Walmart's in-house brand, Great Value canned tuna.

Red Bean Flavored Bread

Red bean bun
Red bean bun - Niuniu/Getty Images

A popular snack made up of a sweetened bread bun flavored with red bean paste, red bean bread can be found on Chinese Walmart shelves. This bread can take the form of either swirled loaves (think sticky cinnamon pull-apart bread) or neatly prepared steamed buns, both injected with lots of red bean paste for a delicately sweet snack.

"Red bean paste" may conjure images of smashed kidney beans, but it's actually a popular ingredient in many sweet Asian dishes. The beans used for this filling are typically adzuki beans, which are soaked, blended, and sweetened to create the paste (also called "anko" in Japan.) The beans are thought to have a variety of health benefits, particularly in supporting kidney function.

In the sweet red bean bread, this paste is incorporated into a cloud-like milk bread dough, made with a traditional technique known as the tangzhong method. This process involves mixing the dough with a flour and water (or milk) roux to yield an exceptionally fluffy loaf. The buns are eaten as a snack (or sometimes for breakfast) along with buns filled with other flavors, such as black sesame seed paste.

Black Chicken

Black chicken in broth
Black chicken in broth - YamisHandmade/Shutterstock

Also in Chinese Walmarts, a highly-priced chicken commonly known as the Silkie chicken is famous for its distinctive naturally occurring black skin, meat, and even grayish-black bones. These chickens are named for their famous tufts of white plumage, which are soft enough to feel "silky." These chickens are especially prized in some Asian diets as a healthier alternative to more common chicken breeds, as their meat is naturally lower in calories and fat. Per 100 grams of meat, the silkie chicken is reported to have 2 grams of fat compared to the 8 grams found in the same serving size of other more common chicken meat.

Additionally, black chicken has been found to contain a higher (almost double) concentration of the antioxidant carnosine than other chicken and poultry breeds, per a study in Scientific Reports. The taste is described as being gamier and darker than other types of chicken — it works well in rich, stewed dishes such as curries.

Rabbit Meat

Rabit meat dish
Rabit meat dish - Qin Ningzhen/Getty Images

Another meat that can be found in Chinese Walmarts is rabbit, reportedly available in the form of whole animals. Rabbit meat has long been a significant protein source in Chinese culture, with early records indicating its prevalence as far back as the Zhou dynasty (dating 1046 – 256 BCE). It's no wonder that rabbit meat has been such a popular meat in Chinese cuisine given its lean profile and versatility, as well as its relatively low-waste production methods.

As with some of the other meat and seafood available in Chinese Walmarts, the rabbit meat can be seen displayed in open-air cases for shoppers to inspect. This style of displaying meat in shops is quite different from the way American butchers and grocers often present meat in plastic packaging. This may be a result of the visibly "farm fresh" qualities that are highly valued in Chinese food shopping more broadly.

Live Crabs

Blue crabs bound in rubber bands
Blue crabs bound in rubber bands - Vera Tikhonova/Getty Images

Among ice chests of other seafood varieties, live crabs with their claws securely tied up in twine can be found in the fish market-style open-top seafood displays of Chinese Walmarts. At first glance, the crabs may look as immobile as their neighboring sea creatures, but they are presented with their claws bound for a reason. Shellfish are often sold alive like this for food safety reasons, as creatures such as crabs and lobsters carry dangerous bacteria that spread once the animal dies and can quickly become hazardous to those consuming the meat. As such, boiling or otherwise cooking the crabs while alive or immediately upon their death is thought to be the safest option for preventing food poisoning.

Crabs are used in an abundance of Chinese dishes and have a long history of being enjoyed with wine during the autumn months in particular. Today, popular Chinese crab dishes include ginger and scallion crabs, crab claw coated in shrimp, and crab and mushroom stuffed wontons.

Pig Heads

Pig head on banana leaves
Pig head on banana leaves - Raksybh/Getty Images

It is possible to find entire pig heads for sale in Chinese Walmarts. Purchasing the whole head provides access to the tongue and cheek, which can be used similarly to other cuts of pork when braised and fried, making a tender addition to stir-fries. The ears in particular are known to be a versatile side dish or appetizer when boiled and seasoned, renowned for their unique mix of crunch and gelatinous bite.

Also commonly seen on holidays such as during Lunar New Year celebrations, the pig head can be roasted whole with seasoning blends containing warming spices such as cinnamon and star anise along with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. The pig head is thought to symbolize good luck and fortune in the new year and can serve as the main dish and would be presented alongside rice and vegetable dishes. Some people also believe that eating the brains contained within the pig head will grant them a boost of intelligence.

Controversial Fresh Squid

two squid on wooden board
two squid on wooden board - Mediterranean/Getty Images

Walmarts in China carry fresh squid among its other seafood, and its supplier has come under fire for highly unethical fishing and dangerous workplace practices. Investigative journalism revealed that between 2017-2022, fishing boats under the umbrella company Shandong Baoma were one of the suppliers of squid to Walmarts in China. These boats were exposed for their inhumane work environments, including severe neglect resulting in the critical illness and death of a crew member from contracting Beriberi — a preventable and treatable disease caused by vitamin B1 deficiency, according to the Pulitzer Center. Fishing ships are often kept at sea for stints of up to two years and are linked to the trafficking and forced labor of captive crew members. It is currently unclear whether Shandong Baoma is still a supplier of Chinese Walmarts.

Beyond the issues of this one supplier, the squid industry in China has more broadly been linked to the destruction of squid populations. The industry is poorly regulated, and the massive fishing yields (Chinese fleets recorded a staggering 520,300 metric tons of squid in 2020) pose the risk of over-exploitation of the species, according to the Global Fishing Watch.

Despite the controversy, squid consumption remains a prevalent facet of the seafood industry in China. It is typically found fried or as part of the hot squid soup that was historically popularized in the Zhejiang and Fujian regions of China.

Self Service Rice Bins

bins of rice with scoops
bins of rice with scoops - Artem Zakharov/Getty Images

While bulk shopping is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., Chinese grocers appear to be ahead of the game, and the country's Walmart locations offer shoppers bulk bins of rice, beans, and other grains for self-service purchases. Customers scoop out their desired quantity of rice into reusable or disposable containers and use the scales on hand to purchase the rice, priced by weight.

Rice is a global dietary staple thought to account for around 20% of the world's calories, and selling it in bulk may be a more practical and sustainable alternative to individual packages. It makes sense for rice to be sold this way in China, given that the nation eats the most rice per year of any country globally.

Once you've mastered the art of making a simple pot of white rice, this powerhouse ingredient becomes the ideal base for a wide array of dishes. Some of the most popular Chinese dishes that begin with various types of rice include Yangzhou fried rice, incorporating shrimp and sometimes sausage into a classic fried rice with corn, carrot, peas, and egg. Another unique rice dish worth trying is Cantonese clay pot rice, typically made with long-grain rice, chicken or beef, whipped egg, and assorted green vegetables.

Fermented Quail Egg Snacks

open quail eggs
open quail eggs - Eva-katalin/Getty Images

Spotted in the pick-and-mix snack aisle among other individually wrapped treats, fermented quail eggs are a single-bite savory delight found in the Walmarts of China.These eggs tend to be marinated for lengthy periods in soy sauce and are available in different flavors, star anise, peppers, or cinnamon. Soy sauce is an effective preservative given its high sodium content, and processing the eggs in this way ensures a long shelf life. Quail eggs are popular in China and beyond because despite being much smaller than chicken eggs, they are incredibly dense sources of protein and essential nutrients such as Vitamin B12. They may only be considered negligibly healthier than chicken eggs by weight, but their extended shelf life also makes them a lower-waste option.

Another similar delicacy created from preserved eggs is the famous century egg, thought to be named after its traditional 100-day preservation process involving salt, coal, and calcium oxide. Unlike their snack food counterpart, these are typically made from duck eggs rather than quail and are reserved for special occasions and holiday celebrations. Interestingly, these Century eggs can be found imported in Canadian Walmarts.

Hot And Sour Fish Soup Flavored Lay's

Chinese fish-flavored Lay's
Chinese fish-flavored Lay's - Frito-Lay

One final group of products that can be found in Chinese Walmarts are the exceptionally unique Lay's chip flavors, including the standout hot and sour fish soup flavor. Lay's is recognized for its wide range of internationally available flavors, and some other honorable Chinese flavor mentions include cucumber, Mexican tomato chicken, and Italian red meat.

The hot and sour fish soup flavor is inspired by the hot and sour soup varieties which are believed to have originated in either the Northern or Sichuan regions of China. The broth base is comprised of white pepper and tart vinegar to achieve the namesake hot and sour flavor profile, designed to provide warmth and comfort to anyone who's unwell or seeking solace in the cold winter months.

The addition of fish to the soup tends to take the form of squid, prawns, or scallops. The seafood can also be accompanied by pickled mustard greens in place of the vinegar, giving this variation of the classic a golden color and a sauerkraut-esque finish.

Read the original article on Mashed