December 10th: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Biscuit Sticks Superpost

My second 'Bits n Bobs' review this week features another three products sent to me by my friends at J-List. Indeed today we have a superpost battle between three of Japan's most renowned biscuit stick brands - Pocky, Toppo and the all new Picola from Nabisco.

These sort of products are the most commonly asked for when it comes to reader requests, so I asked my pal Pete at J-list if he would send me a variety of the most popular flavours they are selling at the moment. As ever I with 'Bits n Bobs' posts I will try keep the words short and let the photographs and scoring charts do most of the informing. Your thoughts are always very welcome.

Glico Pocky Caramel Milk
Kcal 165 Fat 8.1g Carbs 21.0g (32.0g pack)

I thought it best I start off with the originators of the biscuit stick format - Glico's Pocky. A few months ago I did a pretty thorough Pocky Superpost looking at the tablestake flavours in the range (See HERE). At that time one of the flavours I wasn't able to get hold of were these Pocky Caramel Milk, which are another of the common bestsellers on J-List.

These Pocky came in a 32.0g single pack and were attractive both aesthetically and sensually registering a pleasant set of toffee and biscuit smells. When it came to the taste the caramel element wasn't the strongest influence ever, but there were minor suggestions of burnt sugar detectable amongst the predominantly sweet dairy focused white chocolate flavours. The thin shortbread sticks were as ever a good match for the coating, and as annoyingly moreish as ever. It was more of the same from Pocky here - great taste, but frustratingly unfulfilling.

8.0 out of 10

Nabisco Picola Green Tea
Kcal 141 Fat 5.1g Carbs 22.2g (29.4g pack)

I'm not 100.0% sure as to whether these are a totally new product from Nabisco, or just a product that J-List have started stocking in the last few weeks!? Suffice to say since they started appearing on the J-List website several readers have been in contact asking me to review these Nabisco Picola. Today I got the chance to sample their Green Tea flavour, which came in two packs containing 6 wafer pieces in each.

Had you told me I would be reviewing a green tea flavoured chocolate product a year ago I probably would have been shocked, but having eaten my fair share this year I'm almost starting to see it as a norm. Compared to Pocky, Picola are more of a European offering in that they comprise of wafer exteriors with flavoured inner coatings. Aesthetically they didn't look as impressive with the fillings hidden from eye, but when it came to the taste they were just as decent. Fundamentally they suffered from being every bit as unsubstantial, though the wafers were just as moreish with biscuity, honeycomb noted flavours. The inner coating was similarly delicious, and had creamy sweetness that took the partial bitterness off the herby, grassy flavours of the green tea. These were very nice and one of the better green tea flavoured products I have reviewed. I would recommend them as a decent alternative for Pocky lovers.

7.5 out of 10

Lotte Toppo Winter White Chocolate
Kcal 232 Fat 13.7g Carbs 24.8g (42.0g Pack)

You will have seen in my previous Toppo reviews that I have enjoyed other offerings from this brand before, so it was with great excitement that I received this Winter White Chocolate variant. As you can see from the package size (2 x 42.0g packs) and nutritional information, Toppo are a more indulgent, substantial biscuit stick product. The packaging and presentation did a good job of substantiating this with some attractive and tempting on-pack visuals and smells emanating from the packets upon their opening.

In terms of size, Toppo are longer and far thicker than Pocky sticks. The bamboo look alike biscuit outer portions were consistent from previous experiences in that they were buttery and brown sugar noted in taste - very nice. I was somewhat wary that the pairing of them with a sweet white chocolate filling might not work out, but I was pleased to find that the centre portion of the biscuits were more notable for their double cream, evaporated milk like taste than their sugar centric flavours. A single pack was vastly more fulfilling than the other two options showcased today, though this was always going to be the case given the size and weighting of each pack. Out of all three it would be the product I would recommend the most - where do you think your preferences would lie?

8.3 out of 10