Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nihon Nagai Choco (Japan Long Chocolate)

There is a class of snacks in Japan for which I'd like to coin a new term. I christen this group of food items "little big snacks"®. These are items that are strangely large, but marketed as if they were normal size or even small snacks. This kid's treat (brought to you by Riska, maker of all sorts of cheap kid's snacks) called Nihon nagai choco falls into that odd category. Incidentally, "nagai" means "long" in Japanese.

The packaging on this is rather interesting because it is on the sexist side. If you click on the small picture at left to see a more legible size, you'll see that there are three cartoon characters with words written above them in English. The top one says "mama", the center one "boku", and the bottom one "papa". "Boku" is the way in which males can refer to themselves. That is, it's a manly way of saying "me" or "I". Women and girls never say "boku". Papa also gets a repeat viewing on the back and mama gets one lousy picture.

So, boys are supposed to look at this and say, "Here's my boyish/manly snack as indicated by my family's depiction on the label. Aren't I a little big man?" Okay, he's not going to say that. I'm guessing what he's going to say is something like, "why did my cheap ass parents buy me a 27 yen snack stick instead of a Wii?".

This is a typical kid's treat in Japan. It's super light, coated in a light film of fake chocolate, and made of corn. It's also fortified with calcium. The whole stick is 126 calories despite the fact that it's about 10 inches (25.4 cm) long. It's chock full of air pockets, but this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Air has no calories, after all.

You could pretend it's a super long cigar or, um, something else that resembles a long, brown log.

When you open the package, it smells very good. It smells of peanuts, cocoa, and sugar (all of which are ingredients, unsurprisingly). When you bite into it, you get a heavy hit of cereal taste. If you imagine a crispy rice bit from a Nestle Crunch blown up to gargantuan size and elongated, I imagine that's what this is. It's very crunchy and plenty sweet, although not in a sugary burning of your throat manner. The chocolate taste is surprisingly rich for such a thin coating, though there are no discernible peanut notes.

When you look at it on end like this, it looks like the suckers at the end of a squid's tentacles. But, that might just be my impression.

All in all, this is one pleasant little big treat. It's got great texture and just enough flavor to blend in with the cereal base inside. Keep in mind that there are other brands of this sort of thing out there and not all of them are good. I've had one of these before as part of a Japanese Christmas treat pack and sampled another one given to my husband and neither was as nice as this one from Riska. Apparently, brand name matters even in super cheap kid's snacks.

If you're in the mood for something crunchy and sweet, but a bit lighter than a Crunky bar, I'd recommend giving this a try. For 27 yen, it's a sure winner, though you may have to pretend you're a boy while you eat it.


Sharon said...

Interesting find - thanks for the review! Air pockets = no calories! lol

yun said...

You guys have unlimited number of snacks to be enjoyed!

'badmoodguy' is mike said...

This looks pretty good, other than the outward look to it. Like your caption...long and brown. LOL!

The late, great George Carlin had a bit about cigars that went along that line. I throw it out there for all my trendy, cigar-smoking, friends. I guess I could use it for this candy, too! I won't say it here because it is not exactly clean... :)

Orchid64 said...

Sharon: We have to find something to be happy about. ;-)

Yun: My husband was remarking on the same thing. He said that, given the tendency in Japan to constantly add new varieties, I'll never run out of things to review.

Mike: I wish I had found this before I sent your box as I'd have certainly included one. :-) I think we've got the Carlin bit you mention somewhere on a DVD. We should dig it out and play it.

Thanks to everyone for the comments and for reading.