Japanese Snack Food Review: Pepero (choco)

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Before you purists get your panties all in a bunch, this is not a Japanese Snack food from Japan. Rather, it’s a Korean snack food based off of a Japanese Snack food and here at the booniverse, that’s just as good as if it were from the island to begin with. What we have for you here today is another JSF first (I believe); a rendition of an original Japanese snack food as interpreted by another country. In this case, Pepero is the Korean answer to Pocky. Look ma, Pocky’s gone international! I am anticipating the Nabisco stick any day now folks. Home grown Pocky, right here in the States.

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Pepero vs. Pocky. BTW, for those of you interested in this sort of thing, this particular package of Pocky came from the UP (eh). See? Pocky, going international.

We’re not there yet so let’s just get back to the Orient and their fascination with chocolateesque dipped sticks. Pepero is made by the Lotte company, which has brought you many fine snacks in the past. Unfortunately, I don’t keep manufacturer names in the JSFR database so the only snack I can remember by them off the top of my head is Lotte Inryo Mix 5 Candy. Well hey! Searching for Lotte in the booniverse brings up Black Black as well so there you go. And also, I’ll be a complete monkey’s uncle since I just looked up the Lotte company to compare them with the likes of Gilco and Meiji (for which I can not easily find a URL) but lo! Lotte is Korean, not Japanese.

I am so terribly sorry that the purists among my JSF readership had to endure several if not many entries from a Korean based company without prior warning. And also bite me, purists. Lotte is, from here on out, an official JSF inductee. Welcome to the review, Lotte!

There was a review in here somewhere, wasn’t there? Ah yes, Pocky from the West. From the get go, Pepero rather looks like Pocky with the red packaging, the similarish P starting name and the clearly chocolate-esque dipped sticks. That little winking sticky fellow in the corner is new. And sort of disturbing. Why does he have his…head? wrapped in…red balls, orange stars (green clovers, blue diamonds…)? Why is he winking? Is he just there for Kawaii (or whatever the appropriate Korean word is)? If I were culturally Korean would I be as bothered by this fellow? Bizarre.

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Anyway, after the outside packaging issues come the inside packaging issues. I was highly disappointed to find that all the Pepero were bunched together in one inner package. I prefer the Pocky method of a few sticks to a package, a few packages to a box. That way, if I don’t want to eat the entire kit and caboodle I can only open one of the two, three, four packages and enjoy my Pocky. Then, later, I can open another package and enjoy some more Pocky and it will be just as fresh as the first package. Pepero gets opened all at once, no matter if you are just in the mood for a few sticks or all the sticks. They do give you a goodly amount of sticks, that’s a plus, but I don’t usually eat all 16 to 20 sticks in one sitting so that’s not so good. Deducted peas for inconvenient packaging because who wants stale Pepero?

Part of the Pocky/Pepero experience is the crunch versus the coating smoothness factor and unless you are in the habit of taking Ziploc baggies with you wherever you might be eating your Pepero, some of it is going to get a little mooshy. Mooshy grahamesque stick is not so much the enjoyable experience. By the way, the graham stick seems to be universal. Other than being slightly fatter, I could discern no noticeable difference in the Pepero stick taste and crunch. It is graham light with a good crunchity. At least mine was last night. Today I’m expecting a little more of a graham mooshity as I did not store the rest of my Pepero properly.

Once I opened my (one) package, I smelled a delightful fudgy whiff of pleasantness. Mmmmm. It was pleasingly chocolate with a good fudgy undertone and I’ll admit, I got a lot more enjoyment out of the smell than I probably should have. I even opened the Pocky and gave that a whiff for comparison’s sake. Pocky smells dark and chocolaty, Pepero chocolate and fudgy. The taste, however, was a tad disappointing. Pepero doesn’t have quite the melty coating sensation that Pocky does, so the initial olfactory promise of chocolate goodness isn’t immediately backed up. Also, the coating is a tad less tasty than my nose lead me to believe. Both my favorite Guinea Pig and I could also discern a faint chemicalness in the background of Pepero which wasn’t too bad until we taste tested Pocky and Pepero side by side. At which point, the inferior chocolate (but only by perhaps a fractional pea point of inferiority) of the Pepero was noticeable.

I am amused at the fact that Pocky has begun its world wide march of snack food domination, so pea points there. Whooo! Korean Pocky! I am not amused by the one giant Pepero commune packaging so I’m going to have to take away some pea points. Boo! Soggy graham is no good! Smell? Plus pea points! Taste? Small fractional minus pea points. Creepy little packaging fellow? I’m trying to ignore him so maybe if I neither add nor subtract pea points he will go away. Once I total everything up, I still come out with Pocky being the better treat. If you have the choice, I’d have to advise going with Pocky over Pepero. However, Pepero is a fine alternative to several of the things reviewed already at the JSFR (Puchi Pasuteru, Jelly Cake, Nama Ume Ame, the list goes on). Therefore, seeing that Pocky got a 4, I’m going to give Pepero a taste and packaging reduction of one pea point for a

rating

of 3 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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