Taste Test

Is Ministop’s Corn Chillz Just a Gussied-Up Mais Con Hielo?

November 4, 2017

Whether in the warmest of our tropical climate’s summers or the coolest of the ‘Ber months (case in point: the popularity of seasonal frappes around this time of the year), Filipinos love icy drinks. Convenience chain Ministop’s got you covered with their line of creamy slushies, Chillz, and though you’ll find the predictable chocolate/coffee-type variants on the lineup, a relatively new addition channels a flavor much more intrigue-worthy: Sweet Corn. While you do find corn used in sweet applications (especially in these parts), it’s not exactly the first flavor that pops into mind when you think of sweet drinks. (The closest that comes to mind is mais con hielo, but the said treat’s generally treated more as a spoonable iced dessert than a sippable beverage.) What, then, would it taste like?

The Sweet Corn Chillz will cost you PHP 30 and 38 for 12-oz and 16-oz servings, respectively; and as with the entire line-up, you are given empty cups of your preferred size upon order, which you are to fill up at the dedicated Chillz dispenser booth located in-store. Promotional photos show the drink topped with actual corn kernels; for whatever reason though, the said topping was never in stock in our visits to numerous Ministop branches across the metro—leaving us with little choice but to review just the slushie part, as is.

As you push down the dispenser lever, a pale-yellow slush streams down into your cup. Like other Chillz variants, there are visible chunks of ice (teensy ones, about a millimeter each in diameter, but visible still) that give it a decidedly bumpy appearance, and the mixture is thick enough that you can stick a straw in and have it stay standing. Consistent with our expectations from its appearance, initial sips are very icy. We don’t mind the chunkiness (there’s joy in crunching through sips) or the brain freeze (it’s great on a hot day)—but all we could taste was ice at this point, no matter how many times we stirred.

With time though, some of the ice starts to melt and we get a better semblance of how it’s meant to taste. Predominant is a strong dose of milky creaminess, of the sort we think comes (at least in part) from some non-dairy filler (e.g., coffee creamer) than pure dairy—fair enough for a thirty-peso treat. Past that is a hint of a flavor that’s vague but familiar, best associated with the taste of butter or boxed yellow cake mix. The corn part isn’t very noticeable at first and it took us a number of sips to even tell it was there, but it does come through—not as an in-your-face corn flavor the way sweet corn-flavored junk food or canned cream of corn (which is what usually goes into mais con hielo) can possess—but as a mild nuttiness, akin to Korean corn tea or the “broth” left when you cook corn in water, that only comes across at the end but does so beautifully. Though it is subtle, mostly working its magic in the background against the overarching milky taste, it makes for a more realistic (even refined)-tasting corn-flavored treat than you’d expect for a thirty-peso treat.

We can only imagine how much more latent the corn essence would taste if the corn topping were ever available (though in a pinch, you technically could just bring your own canned kernels or cob of corn to the store to top your own cup); sipped bare, it’s namesake flavor is not completely discernible unless you actually try to look for it. Either way, we’re pretty impressed with the creamy, almost buttery flavor this beverage brings. Summer may be months away, but we’re happy to risk the brain freeze for this one-of-a-kind drink.

Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She is a cheapskate in other aspects of her life, preferring to use her savings on specialty vinegars and degustation menus. While she admits to eating out too much, cooking and baking remain her first love, and she's always looking for quirky new ways to use up seasonal produce. Thanks to her obsession with (unnecessarily) making everything from scratch, she is now desperate to clear her fridge full of homemade condiments. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.
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