Meiji's Almond Chocolate: Original, Smart Sweet, Crispy Puff, and Crunch

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

I've seen Meiji's Almond Chocolate snack on Asian supermarket shelves since I was a kid, but it didn't entice me (I'm guessing because there were no cute, colorful characters on the box) until I recently set my eyes on a new flavor: Crispy Puff. (Apparently that's how you reel me in as an adult.)

I would've stopped at Crispy Puff if not for spotting three other Almond Chocolate flavors in the candy aisle at the Hong Kong Supermarket* near SEHQ. Which is why I ate four boxes of the stuff. Here's a look at the different varieties.

Original

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The exceptionally crisp almonds taste great—better than other chocolate-covered almonds I've tried—but the thick milk chocolate coating doesn't lend much flavor, at least compared to the other three varieties. And while it's probably a good thing that the chocolate isn't too sweet, I wish it were a tad sweeter. Considering the other choices, I wouldn't buy this again.

Smart Sweet

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This version has two layers of chocolate: milk and semi-sweet. The semi-sweet helps amp up the chocolate flavor. Definitely pick this over the regular.

Crispy Puff

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These almonds are covered in a combination of puffed wheat (it looks more like millet, but the box says "puffed wheat") and milk chocolate for two kinds of crunch in each bite: the light, airy crispness of the puffed wheat bits and the clean crunch of the almonds. This is my favorite of the four.

Almond Crunch

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Meiji partnered up with Japanese snack company Kameda for Almond Crunch: almonds encased in a sweet, crunchy cracker layer, then coated in a layer of chocolate mixed with Kameda's crushed "persimmon seed" snack—crackers made of glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce and spices. I thought Crispy Puff was crunchy, but it pales in comparison to Almond Crunch. This has crunch to the second power, along with more salt and a hit of spiciness. I must admit I prefer the less extreme Crispy Puff over this, but only by a smidge.

What do you think of Meiji's Almond Chocolate?

* Two weeks ago Hong Kong Supermarket had every flavor, but when I visited this week they only had original and Crunch. Nooooo, where did my beloved Crispy Puff go? Keep your eyes open for the other varieties.