Random Fun 1 – The Pocky Challenge

Sometimes when travelling, you need to have some fun goals to accomplish. Whether it be tasting certain types of food or climbing up a mountain in every region you visit, having an achievement list adds a different dynamic to your travels. As such, I want to share one of the challenges I set for myself during this trip – the Pocky Challenge!

pockyplease“All worship the Pocky!”

Pocky is a very popular snack in Japan. The original version consists of a long and thin biscuit stick coated in chocolate. Due to the immense popularity of the snack, many variations have since been produced. A quick search on Google Images will show just how many variations there were. As a fan of the original version, I decided to take on a challenge to find and try at least 10 different Pocky flavours throughout this trip. The summary of my challenge and review of each variation is as listed below.
[Note: I will use a rating from 1 – 10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highets. A rating of 5 would imply that the flavour is average and I would not buy it again.]

UntitledLook at all the amazing things Pocky brings to the world!
(Taken from http://pocky.glico.com/)

Flavour 1 – Original
Location bought: Kyoto on 01/02/2012
Rating: 7/10

Nothing much to say about this. Its just the usual Pocky. Slightly fresher though compared to some which I can get back in New Zealand.

01 - Original

Flavour 2 – Almond Crush
Location bought: Kyoto on 03/02/2012
Rating: 7/10

Also a common flavour which is available outside of Japan. The almonds definitely enhanced the flavour, but the reduced amount of sticks was disappointing.

02 - Almond Crush

Flavour 3 – Cookies and Cream
Location bought: Sapporo on 06/02/2012
Rating: 3/10

I love cookies and cream. It is a very popular ice cream flavour in New Zealand. However, despite the cute packaging, this was one of the worst flavours I tried during the trip. The supposedly chocolate flavoured biscuit did not have a chocolate cookie taste to it, and the cream tasted like pure sugar. Way too sweet for my liking.

03 - Cookies and Cream

Flavour 4 – Strawberry
Location bought: Sapporo on 06/02/2012
Rating: 4/10

Another flavour which is popular in other countries, though I had never tried it before. Tastes like the biscuit was dipped in strawberry milk. I felt the flavour was a bit too artificial.

04 - Strawberry

Flavour 5 – Salty
Location bought: Sapporo on 08/02/2012
Rating: 10/10

Japanese seem to love putting salt on sweet things, and I never understood it till I tried the Salty flavoured Pocky. The salt brought out the flavour of the chocolate, which made it the most delicious Pocky I had ever tried. Who knew? Salt with chocolate – it works! Lindt also has chocolates with salt too, so I guess it is kind of common? Bonus that it cost the same as the original and had just as many sticks in it unlike the Almond Crush flavour.

05 - Salty

Flavour 6 – Cafe Coffee
Location bought: Fukuoka on 11/02/2012
Rating: 6/10

This was one of those special limited editions available. The biscuit had a thicker layer of coating than usual. The coffee flavour was nice, but the texture of the coating was almost powdery. The smoothness of the other variations I had tried were definitely better.

06 - Coffee

Flavour 7 – Hot Chocolate
Location bought: Kanazawa on 19/02/2012
Rating: 6/10

It was over a week since the last time I had found a new flavour in a small pack (there were other flavours in large packages which is hard to pack), luckily I had managed to stumble across this flavour. It had a similar texture to the previous one I had, though the flavour of the chocolate was much richer than the original flavour.

07 - Hot Chocolate

Flavour 8 – Sweet Strawberry
Location bought: Kanazawa on 21/02/2012
Rating: 5/10

I had deliberated whether this was cheating or not, since I had previously tried strawberry flavour. However, as this had a different packaging, and the coating was of a different pattern, I decided it was fine. The coating was as thick as the coffee and hot chocolate variations, but was surprisingly smooth. However, the taste was still a tad too artificial for my liking.

08 - Strawberry (Mart edition)

Flavour 9 – Fromage
Location bought: Kanazawa on 21/02/2012
Rating: 9/10

I had bought this together with the Sweet Strawberry flavoured Pocky, and was worried that the flavour would also be too artificial. Surprisingly, it was perhaps the 2nd best flavour I had tried. The coating had a creamy texture, and the lemon cheese cake taste was delicious.

09 - Fromage

Flavour 10 – Caramel
Location bought: Takayama on 24/02/2012
Rating: 1/10

This was the worst Pocky I had during the trip. Similar to Cookies and Cream, the coating was way too sweet. But at least there was some cream flavour to the previous one. This was just sweet and nothing else. The biscuit was also the normal type, so nothing fancy with this flavour. Eating plain sugar would be just as good, though much cheaper too.

10 - Caramel

But despite how bad this flavour was – CHALLENGE COMPLETED!

Flavour 11 – Custard and Orange
Location bought: Toyosato on 02/03/2012
Rating: 5/10

Despite my challenge being complete, I was still looking for new flavours to try. Unfortunately I was unable to find anything for the most part of 2 weeks, until I stumbled in a bakery in Toyosato which sold Custard and Orange flavoured Pocky! Was from the same line of flavours as Sweet Strawberry and Fromage. Definitely tasted better than Sweet Strawberry, but still loses out to the original flavour. Was a tad too sweet as well.

11 - Custard and Orange

Conclusions

The Pocky Challenge was successfully completed! I had always had an impression in my mind that I would be able to complete this before leaving Hokkaido as I thought the many variations were readily available. Most stores however only sold chocolate, almond, and strawberry (if they sell any at all). The rest were really a mission to find. I had thought about giving up and attempting a Kit-Kat challenge instead as we came across dozens of variations! There were melon and green tea flavoured Pocky, but those came in massive boxes of 12 which were hard to pack. Overall, my favourite flavour is Salty, perhaps due to the extremely low expectations I had for it. It was a great challenge, and I look forward to attempting the Kit-Kat challenge the next time I go to Japan!

f9973f54f923c8a7beca2e6649fd99b140ffc53a
Perhaps another challenge is to play the Pocky Game?

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