What are pocky?

Flickr picture of melon pocky from WEBmikey's stream

What are pocky? What is pocky? So many questions. I assume if you’ve never been to Japan that you’ve still probably heard the word Pocky from some chap who’s a bit geeky. They’re a Japanese snack that some people in remote countries will pay extortionate amounts for. Pocky are basically very thin sweet biscuit sticks about a hand long. The top part of the stick is covered in chocolate or something similar. The bottom part is an unblemished stick for you to grasp.

flickr picture of men's pocky and normal pocky. from yuffie9852's photostream
They have the sweet savoury thing going for them – they’re incredibly moreish. The boxes come in two or so sizes – big – which is about four bags of pocky with maybe ten pocky a bag. The small size have only two of these pocky bags. For me there’s little difference as the boxes will become empty in roughly the same amount of time. It almost disturbing how easily and quickly they can be munched on when doing something else – like watching a film, teaching an English class, driving a bus, whatever.

The best thing about pocky is not that it’s a cheap snack, though that is a selling point, rather it’s the variety of pocky you can get. My favourite pocky is the “Men’s Pocky” purely for the name. These are men’s pocky and much like the Yorkie – women cannot eat them. I assume they are refused service at the counter and if they some how surreptitiously get their hands on a packet then they’re deported to North Korea post-haste. That’s what I gather from reading the back of the packet anyway. Actually Men’s pocky are dark chocolate – dark, mysterious, a little bitter, strong – meaning only men could possible enjoy or consume this Pocky – women are too weak and frail. That’s the real reason why they’re men’s Pocky.

Japan’s snacks and treats tend to have special editions that are associated with the current season. Summer might come with Summer-strawberry pocky or similar. Autumn might have decaying leaf foliage pocky, Winter, ice pocky, spring cherry blossom pocky. Something like that anyway. It’s not just pocky it’s everything. Beer even, it’s currently Autumn and Asahi has a special autumn beer. I have no idea what it tastes like but I’d very much like to try it. Green Tea kit kats were common a while back but for autumn we get white kit kats with maple syrup – they’re great. One of the few sources of sickly sweetness that is so lacking in many of Japans sweets.

So special season editions are pretty big but so is location. If you come from Hokkaido you might have special pocky / snacks just for your area! In fact in Hokkaido they have the Giant Yubari Melon Pocky. New pocky flavours, which seem to appear by the week, are tested in rural out of the way areas. If they do well in the rural places then they’re distributed in the cities. This has led to the creation of big city groups willing to go on tours and hunt out these new exciting pocky flavours to try them out – you’ve got to have something to fill up those long empty weekends – heh?

This weekend I tried black sesame seed as I’d never seen it before and it sounded absolutely awful and something I’d only be able to experience in Japan. They tasted sweet and soft but smelled quite strongly a bit like pepper.

If you get the chance I recommend you check them out!
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