1966. The year that changed the world of snacking forever. The year...that Pocky was born. [Cue dramatic music and parting of clouds unleashing blinding rays of light]
What's so great about these skinny biscuit sticks coated in a thin layer of chocolate? Oh, they're a perfect form of a snack. Small-portioned, lightly sweet, satisfyingly crisp, easy to eat without making a mess (not crumbly), and open to a gajillion variations that cause people like me to continually buy them for the sake of trying every flavor.
But as simple as the chocolate-coated-biscuit-stick formula may sound, it's not. Otherwise Pocky wouldn't have been the overwhelming champion of this taste test.
Unsurprisingly, Pocky won against five other Pocky imitators. Here are all the sticks we tasted, starting with Pocky and the rest in no particular order (company and country of origin in parentheses). Products were purchased in the US unless otherwise noted.
Pocky (Glico, Japan)
Out of nine tasters, seven picked Pocky as their favorite and some also identified it as Pocky. It won for having the best chocolate flavor—richer, darker, and just more real than the others. Tasters praised the biscuit for its especially crisp texture; otherwise, most people found it bland.
Thomas and Friends (Kabaya, Japan)
Some tasters described this chocolate as particularly milky, creamy, and sweet. The biscuit was pretty bland and not as crunchy as Pocky—some people found it too soft.
Stick Pack (Kabaya, Japan)
A few tasters called this their least favorite, while others found it adequate. Overall impression: bland stick coated with bland/slightly fruity chocolate. (Purchased in Hong Kong.)
Lucky Stick (Meiji, Indonesia)
This was the most different snack of the group with a stick that was thicker and airier than the others and brown instead of light yellow. Its flavor was different too—descriptions included toasty, coffee, and cardboard. One person noted, "I regret biting this biscuit alone." The thin chocolate coating was immemorable and overpowered by the biscuit. This needs a lot more chocolate to balance out the biscuit.
Pepero (Lotte, Korea)
Pretty middle-of-the-road. Another crisp, bland biscuit. Half of the tasters liked that the chocolate was on the dark side, while the other half just didn't like it at all.
Arita City (Falken, Taiwan)
This was the only stick that had a fake vanilla-y flavor. The biscuit's nice crisp texture was brought down by waxy chocolate and fail vanilla. (Purchased in Taiwan.)
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.
Our Tasting Methodology: All taste tests are conducted completely blind and without discussion. Tasters taste samples in random order. For example, taster A may taste sample 1 first, while taster B will taste sample 6 first. This is to prevent palate fatigue from unfairly giving any one sample an advantage. Tasters are asked to fill out tasting sheets ranking the samples for various criteria that vary from sample to sample. All data is tabulated and results are calculated with no editorial input in order to give us the most impartial representation of actual results possible.