Sunday, January 25, 2009
Chocolat Framboise Marble Pocky
For those who don't live in Japan, I'll give the shortest possible explanation of how Valentine's Day works in this country. Women buy men chocolates. Men don't buy women anything. I'm sure that every Western man who ever felt pressure to find the perfect Valentine's gift is dialing up an Asian dating service and putting in an order for a Japanese girl right now.
I should note that a lot of women are obliged to give chocolates to men they don't even like. They also give to men who they are friends and acquaintances with. It's not about romance. That means that there is a whopping great marketing opportunity for confectioners to sell a ton of low rent candy and chocolate-based items to women who have to give their bosses and coworkers token gifts on February 14. Most companies rise to the occasion and get out there with themed items which feature the color red and hearts, though they don't always overtly state "Valentine's candy" so that the items can be bought any time by anyone.
This leads us nicely to this Chocolat Framboise Pocky. It's clearly been released for the Valentine's Day crowd (note the hearts on the box). There are three sleeves with 4 sticks each inside the box and each package has hearts all over it as well. Red fruit like strawberry, cherry, and raspberry are particularly popular inclusions for these treats, and liquor-infused candy is also readily available. I guess that men are supposed to enjoy boozy chocolates. Framboise is a sort of raspberry beer, so these sticks are three great Valentine's Day concepts fused into one - chocolate, liquor, and red fruit. How can it lose as a marketing concept?
These sticks smell very good. They smell both of chocolate and raspberry. The coating is relatively generous and the flavor is quite strong. Note that the raspberry flavor is pretty intense so you have to really like raspberry to enjoy these.The first bite tastes of dark chocolate and the second brings the raspberry more heavily into play. The coating is pretty much the usual for Pocky, a little soft and easy to bite into, and the sticks are crunchy and fresh. The sweetness is just about right and the fruit flavor doesn't taste artificial or perfume-like. The quality level is really surprising for such a "common" snack. These have cocoa butter, butter, and raspberry powder. I really liked these and I'd definitely buy them again if they were to be available after the Valentine's season ends.
Though I haven't been a fan of Pocky throughout most of my time in Japan, I have not been disappointed in the flavors I have tried. Considering that the calorie count on these is so modest, 4 sticks at 93 calories, I think that these are a very good choice as a sweet treat for anyone.