1966. The year that changed the world of snacking forever. The year...that Pocky was born. Other chocolate-covered biscuit sticks don't stand a chance against Pocky.
'Japanese' on Serious Eats
Koala's March is one of my most favorite childhood snacks, but now that I'm old enough to look past the cute packaging, I've sadly realized that what's inside is kind of...not good. At least compared to the four other snacks I gathered for this taste test of Asian, chocolate-filled, bite-sized cookie snacks.
Japanese desserts can be delicate and beautiful to look at, or gorge-worthy and fantastically elaborate. They offer a mix of traditional flavors and techniques with imported ones, leading to delicious hybrids that are some of the best treats in town. From mochi to mitarashi to delicate filled cakes, there are enough options to keep you on a sugar buzz for days. Here are 7 Japanese sweets we love in San Francisco—which are your favorites?
What's the best part of candy-coated gum? The candy, of course, and the way the crunchy shell gets pushed into the chewy elastic center. Meiji's hip to this and came up with bubble gum in pieces so small that it's almost all candy shell with just a bit of gum in the center, giving you the perfect excuse to down way more of the little guys than any healthy child or adult should.
If you're used to Western-style soft drinks, you'll be surprised at what you taste in Japan, where flavors are radically different. But we'll get to all that. Today, instead, we're gonna share some meta-drinks. Candies that are meant to taste like soft drinks. Is there really a big difference between grape candy and grape soda candy?
The Japanese are known for cute cartoon-based packaging on decidedly adult products (Hello Kitty wine, anyone?), but they're equally good at redesigning kids' foods to give them a more adult spin. Nowhere is this more apparent than with their chocolate, which, unlike typical American or UK chocolates, come in classy, adult-oriented packaging (not to mention often having unintentionally funny names). Click through the slideshow to check out some Japanese chocolates.
As far as gummy candies go, Kasugai sets the standard in Japan, if not the world, with a dozen varieties (we had strawberry, kiwi, mango, mangosteen, lychee, grape, muscat, pineapple, peach, musk melon, orange, and apple), each one with a distinct, juicy flavor. (The kiwi even has little kiwi seeds in it!) There are a few other competitors in the market, but none of them really come close to the Kasugai either flavor- or texture-wise.
Pocky may be the king of the Japanese choco/biscuit snack world, but they're by no means the only option. After a shopping spree at Mitsuwa in Edgewater, New Jersey—the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States—we bought every single candy they have on sale. Here is a round-up of the chocolatey biscuity snacks. Shapes range from bamboo shoots to koalas to mini burgers.
Like monster movies, martial arts, and cartoon pornography, the Japanese are the only ones in the world who have managed to refine and re-imagine snack foods in a way that can only be described as art. Whether they're wacky, cute, insane, or just plain delicious, we've got a major thing for Japanese snacks at SEHQ. Over the next few weeks, we'll be eating our way through our giant Japanese snack box. First up: Pocky.