Japanese Snacks: Biscuity, Chocolatey Things

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

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.

A few weeks back, I took a trip out to Mitsuwa in Edgewater—the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States—where I went on a minor shopping spree and bought every single candy they have on sale.

Pocky may be the king of the Japanese choco/biscuit snack world, but they're by no means the only option.

So here's a scenario: you've just started a chocolate and biscuit factory and you're trying to decide what shape to use for your brand new line of cookies. The natural choice would be baby bamboo shoots, right? Wait, what? Why would anyone in their right mind want to eat chocolate shaped like a bamboo shoot, tree stump, or mushroom?

We don't know, but we're sure glad somebody thought of doing just that because it gave us the means to throw together a little edible woodland glade.

Continuing with the sylvan theme, you'll also find a number of animal-shaped biscuity chocolate things (koalas are especially popular, as are pandas). Pretty much all of these come in both chocolate and strawberry flavors, by the way, as all pandas should.

Animals not your thing? Japan's got you covered with a whole line of food-shaped-food. Miniature biscuits shaped like hamburgers. Candy coated biscuit ice cream scoops on top of chocolate cones. Even miniature melon-pan, modeled after the classic Japanese pastry that in turn is modeled after the mottled skin of the musk melon (they are not flavored with melon!) We're not ones to muddle in other's melon modeling, but we'd rather the makers of Milk no Melon-pan never meddled with the original—they taste awful. Like stale balls of starchy milk.

On the other end of the spectrum—a cookie that sounds gross but tastes great—is Collon (I know, right?). Despite the poor translation and marketing consultation, the chocolate ganache-filled tube-shaped vanilla wafers are great. Like sweet versions of Combos.

The best, though, are the mini Chocolate Pies made by Lotte (Korean company, but the cookies are from Japan). We had no idea what squirrels, trees, and a little girl with a basket had to do with chocolate pies, and the Google translation of their website was also not much use:

Breadfruit tree is like bread like flavor and bake the fruit, it is a tropical plant, it is a designer, "like a dream tree can pan continuously," and. Designers have always kept a good thought that the trees had such a request came one day design a real pie. And "fruit pie can continuously, a mysterious forest" motif of the decision, following the design of the prototype is now completed. I changed from the past, the design feel old. There are a responsible designer, I thought that way of thinking is alive and well and pure childhood dream.

Luckily, our resident Japanese translator Christine stepped in to clarify. Apparently, the pies come from a magical forest where nothing wrong can happen. Each pie is a seed that can be planted and grown into a magical, pie-bearing tree. We've been watering ours every day. So far, no sprouting.

Click through the slideshow above for a full lineup of our favorite biscuit snacks!