For an interview on Japanese snacks that I did quite some time ago, I was asked about seasonal variations in Japan. At that time, I had a bit less of a handle on it than I do now, but there are certain very predictable offerings based on the time of year. In spring, the cherry flavors come out to play as a way of saying, "cherry blossoms are coming, so please enjoy them with this fake-flavored confectionary." In autumn, sweet potato and chestnut offer their warm and toasty joys. In summer, we usually get lemon parading as something "cool" though I generally fail to see why "sour" equals "cool". In a similar vein, I don't know why winter is the season for chocolate aside from the fact that it's the best time of year for manufacturers to ship it without fear of melting. If so, there is something very disheartening about the notion that flavor offerings are tied the ability to properly air condition vehicles and shops.
Fortunately, regardless of the time of year, many of the chocolate offerings in winter are rich and deep. In the past, there has been a kuchidoke KitKat that was quite the tasty offering. For those who don't go back and read the explanation on that old post, "kuchidoke" means "melt in your mouth". I'm not sure how you're supposed to achieve that with a Pocky stick, unless you suck on it like a lollipop instead of bite off the bland pretzel stick pieces and chew them up, but I can say that these are somewhat more heavily coated sticks than the basic Pocky. They are reminiscent of "Dessert Pocky", but not quite that overloaded with sweet swaddling.
There are four packets of 6 sticks in a box. I'm not sure what the retail price is because my husband won these for me in a UFO Catcher machine, but I'd guess they're around 160 yen ($2.07) based on the average price of a non-basic box of Pocky. Each packet has 125 calories so it's a pretty economical snack option if you limit yourself.
I'm not a giant fan of Pocky in general, as I've mentioned before. As a matter of fact, this review mainly exists as a testimonial to my husband's spirt of competition when it comes to gaming machines and his good eye-hand coordination. It's not that I dislike them, but just there are other things that are generally more attractive to me (like Pucca, which is like an inverted Pocky). That doesn't mean that they aren't tasty snacks, but just that tastes vary and if you're faced with a row of corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips and rice crackers, one of them is going to be your first option even though each one of them has its appeal.
All of that being said, these are some damn fine Pocky. The flavor hit is two-fold with a mild chocolate flavor up front and a fudgey, deep chocolate bottom that hits you at the end of a bite. If I didn't know what "kuchidoke" actually meant, I'd believe it meant, delicious, intense, non-dark chocolate as that does appear to be how it is presented. The box shows you that the outside of each stick is coated with cocoa powder, but I don't believe that is where these get their flavor punch from. I think it's from coffee powder being put in the mix to boost the intensity.
If I were a Pocky fan, these would definitely get a "very happy" rating and I'd be stocking up on extra boxes to enjoy some when they disappear as a seasonal release. Since I'm not a Pocky nut, these will get a "happy" rating. When my husband won these, he got three boxes taped together and I have no regrets about having so many to eat, but I'm not sure that these will make it into my steady rotation. That's simply because they're Pocky, not because they aren't excellent Pocky.