Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Meiji Pucca Sweet Potato Cookies
Seeing Pucca cookies always reminds me of venerable Goldfish crackers in the United States. It appears that we enjoy eating cookies and crackers in the shapes of certain animals more than others. Actually, I know that probably isn't true. The most likely reason that fish are a shape of choice is that they require very little detail to convey what they are. If you've seen really cheap animal crackers, you're already aware that many of the giraffes, gazelles, and even monkeys come out as little more than amorphous blobs.
I've had very favorable experiences with Pucca before, but I was somewhat wary of a sweet potato version. While I've had plenty of good sweet potato treats in Japan, anything which tends to run on the sweeter side is a bit of a "risk" in that the manufacturers tend to either use a puree which is far too intense and has at least a hint of rotting sweet potato. Pucca tend to be better balanced, but this is a combination which is easy to get wrong.
Like all Pucca, the exterior is a dry pretzel shell without salt injected with a chocolate-based filling through a little hole in the bottom (sort of a belly button for the fish). It has a nice contrasting depth of flavor which usually betrays some earthy rye flour flavors. In this incarnation, I couldn't detect the usual rye notes because the filling's flavor is quite intense. That being said, it is intense in a way which is not so overbearing as to make it unpleasant. This is strong and sweet, but still good.
Each little cookie is 11 calories, and given how intense they are, I was satisfied with just 3 or so at a time. I'm not sure how I'd feel about these if I were to eat a lot of them at once. I tend to think I'd enjoy them less at greater volume. Among the Pucca flavors that I have tried, this is definitely my least favorite, but I'd still eat them again. However, given the slow rate at which I'm consuming the current box, they're likely to disappear as a seasonal treat before I have the chance to buy more. If you're new to Pucca, I'd still say go for the original version with chocolate filling, but if you're an old hand at these flavors and want to try something new, these might bring a smile to your face.
You can find these pretty much anywhere at the moment and they're generally only 100 yen ($1.20) per box for 46 grams (1.6 oz.). However, most sweet potato treats are seasonal and vanish by spring so you'll want to try them sooner rather than later. I'd be surprised if these were around past next April or May.
If you'd like to download some desktop pictures with the cute Pucca fish, you can get them here.