Friday, February 19, 2010
Meiji Fran Whipps - Hazelnut and Bitter Chocolate
One of my friends told me that Pocky taste like stale pretzels dipped in chocolate. While I don't quite have his low estimation for the exceedingly popular stick-based sweets, I'm not over the moon for them either. It takes a fairly enticing looking flavor and the promise of a more generous coating on the stick to get me to toss a box of Pocky (or Pocky-like) sweets in my basket and pry my hard-earned yen out of my hand. That's why Pocky is perhaps under-represented on this blog. If you are looking for more Pocky than I am offering, I recommend adding Pocky Watch to your reading list (if you haven't already), which by its very nature is going to give you more pretzel stick love as well as other reviews of many interesting things.
Fran is Meiji's take on Glico's popular Pocky. I rarely take note of Fran in the shops because the flavors don't tend to grab me. However, anything with hazelnuts is like a magnet for this talking flower. I believe that Nutella is the food of the gods, after all. So, when I found this at the local 99 yen ($1.12) shop, I tossed it in the basket. It helps that each serving is only 89 calories so I can snack sensibly.
The box contains 4 foil packets with 3 sticks in each. The sticks are cocoa flavored and double-coated with white and somewhat bittersweet chocolate with a few pieces of hazelnut embedded in them. I should note that Fran sticks seem more like cookies than pretzels to my taste and texture senses. They smell pretty much like cocoa powder. When I first bit into it, I had a profound feeling of disappointment. It seemed to mainly taste like cheap chocolate and had a bit of a taste which I associate with preservatives. By the time I reached the second stick, other flavors started to come out. Primarily, there was a whipped cream flavor from the white coating that started to really bloom. Unfortunately, the hazelnut flavor was so weak as to nearly be absent.
While I was disappointed in the lack of hazelnut flavor, I'm as much a fan of whipped cream as those particular nuts so I really liked this once the taste of cheap chocolate vanished and the mixture of bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream took over. One of the many things I've learned about tasting from snack blogging is that your tongue grows acclimated to flavors or takes awhile to warm up to them so you have to give things a bit of a chance to develop before you reach a conclusion. This was definitely one of those experiences where my initial sense of the product was bad, but it seriously grew on me.
If your patience and tastes run similar to mine, you might enjoy this. That being said, I can't say this was a slam dunk "happy" rating. It came a little close to indifferent because having to eat 1/3 of a packet before I could really enjoy the rest is somewhat of a sacrifice. Nonetheless, I could see myself buying these again.