Monday, September 6, 2010
Sequoia Chocolate Milk Bar
Some products come across as the "poor man's" version of a better-known brand name item. Drinks like RC Cola or Shasta cola come to mind as Coca-Cola wannabes. The Sequoia chocolate wafer bar comes across as the poor man's KitKat, though I don't know if it actually came before everyone's favorite chocolate-covered wafer. The company that makes Sequoia, Furuta, has been in business since 1952, but Furuta doesn't have a full product history on its site so I can't give them credit for being first if credit is indeed due.
You can buy Sequoia bars in 3-packs for 99 yen ($1.16) or as single bars for about 40 yen (47 cents). The multi-packs are available only in certain types of stores. A single Sequoia is about the size of 2.5 fingers of a KitKat, so they cost quite a bit less.
Since I last tried a Sequoia chocolate bar, they seem to have changed. I remember them being coated in thing chocolate which had little flavor and was rather thin. I recall the wafers being very brittle and overly flaky. To be fair, this was 18-19 years ago so they may have changed a long time ago and I just took a long time to revisit one.
The bar now is covered in relatively thick, solid chocolate. It is covered in typical Japanese milk chocolate (marginally bittersweet) which includes cocoa butter. When you look at a cross section, it seems to have a layer of a different sort of chocolate above the top wafer, but I couldn't taste any difference in texture or taste. This is unlike the caramel Sequoia which had a rather softer bit of caramel above the top wafer which yielded easily when bitten into.
The bar smells faintly of cocoa and has a fairly strong, but somehow flat flavor. Some chocolate has a nutty, milky, or fruity flavor, but this doesn't. It's like a strong cup of hot chocolate made with cheap cocoa powder. It's quite sweet, though rich and slightly bittersweet and that helps offset the sugary nature. The wafers are crispy, but you lose the sense of them in the firm chocolate. I think that the KitKat formula works better to reveal the nature of the wafers because it's softer and yields as you bite into it.
In my opinion, this bar could do with less chocolate coating and more wafer and with a softer chocolate coating, but it's fine overall. The portion control is pretty good. One bar is 131 calories and it feels substantial enough that you won't want another. I think this is a resistible bar which wouldn't be bad to keep in your desk or kitchen for times when you really, really want something sweet. I'd buy it again, but only if I were trying to make it easier on myself not to indulge and intentionally bought a less than optimal bar. So, I can only provisionally offer a "happy sumo" (would buy again) rating.