Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Ringside" (Kaburitsuki) Giant Kinako Pocky

The word "sale" has very little meaning in Japan. Oh sure, they have sales, but usually the discounts are pretty paltry. There are tables of discount food items at most of the big markets, but most of the items are marked down by between 3 and 20 yen (that's about a nickel to 25 cents). This is unlike the U.S. where you can buy a nearly expired packet of cookies for a dime. Because the items are not very popular (and therefore are likely not very desirable) and the discounts so lame, I have never bought one of those items, until today when I ran across this kinako giant Pocky. The discount on it, by the way, was a whopping 16 yen (about 14 cents).

I've seen giant Pocky before and I figured I'd get around to sampling one sooner or later, but it was the kinako (toasted soy flour) that drew me to this. With visions of quasi-peanut butter flavored Pocky dancing in my head, I tossed it into the shopping basket.

When I checked Glico's site and their current assortment of Pocky brands, these did not show up. After searching a bit more creatively, I found a press release site which ties the release of these to setsubun (the day before a season changes, in this case, from winter to spring) though these were released on December 17, 2008, far earlier than the changeover from winter to spring. I believe that these are kinako flavored because toasted soy beans are used in setsubun activities. One interesting point on the press release page is that they specifically state that the target demographic for this product are males and females ages 10-20 and housewives.

Though "kaburitsuki" translates to "ringside" (something that came to mind from the days when we were sumo fans), I'm not confident that that is the proper word because it makes so sense. Are we to consume these from or "ringside" seats as we watch the seasons change? I'm sure that someone in the know will offer more information if I'm translating incorrectly here.

"Giant" in Pocky terms is 22 cm (8.6 inches) and about 1 cm in diameter (.4 inches). There are three individually-wrapped sticks in a box that could easily accommodate four of them if Glico weren't so stingy. Each stick is 60 calories and weighs 12.4 grams (.4 oz.). This box retails for 160 yen ($1.74), which doesn't represent the best value for the volume.

The sticks are very heavy on the pretzel and light on the coating, particularly for their size. When you compare the amount of coating to something like the Dessert Pocky series with its lavish coating on small sticks, it seems very stingy indeed. However, perhaps they didn't want these to be too sweet or fattening for young people.

The sticks smell nicely of toasted soy flour and have almost impossible to see flecks of brown rice puffs in them. The illustration shows them more clearly than the actual sticks do. (Click on the images in this post to see larger versions.) The taste is lightly sweet and pleasant and the texture is crunchy. They are thick, but not hard to bite through. Though the kinako taste is definitely there, it is largely overwhelmed by the pretzel stick portion. What is more, only about 2/3 of the stick even has a coating. A large portion at the bottom is just a thick, plain, unsalted pretzel.

The bottom line is that the proportions are such that they taste a lot more like a kinako breadstick than Pocky or even a pretzel. Since I enjoy breadsticks, I liked these. However, I think that they will be far less satisfying for Pocky fans. If you see these in an import shop for an inflated price, I wouldn't recommend buying them unless you're a huge lover of breadsticks. If you see them in Japan and are bonkers for kinako, they're worth picking up for to sample, but probably not for repeat snacking.


Kelly said...

3 sticks in a box for that price? Forget it. I wouldn't bother. The coating is so thin it reminds me of chinese made pocky.

Anonymous said...

Man, they really should've done a Pocky promotion with Harry Potter movies for these wands...

Orchid64 said...

Kelly: I agree. The price is pretty high for 3 kinako breadsticks!

Bryan: LOL! I wish I had thought of that. The size is perfect.