These chocolate stick products are always some of the most requested reviews here on ChocolateMission so this post today will hopefully please an awful lot of you. Below you will find mini reviews of the newest market offerings from Mikado, Pocky and Fran. The Mikado flavours are both available here in the UK, but if you are after the other two I suggest you head on over to J-List. I hope you enjoy the post - your views and opinions are always welcome ...
Glico Mikado Dark Chocolate
Kcal 10 Fat 0.4g Fat(sats) 0.2g Carbs 1.5g (per stick)
These Mikado Dark Chocolate came described as 'biscuits coated in dark chocolate' and came in a 75.0g box. If you look back to my review of the Mikado White Chocolate you will see that the milk chocolate variety was to my preference when it came to the taste. I can tell you now that having tasted these dark chocolate ones, that the milk chocolate variant is still my favourite, however there is a slight caveat that makes these a more than worthy alternative. In terms of the core taste, in my opinion the dark chocolate didn't quite reach the levels of the Mikado Milk Chocolate, as it came across as more of a 'mass consumer friendly' tasting chocolate, and not as differentiated as it could have been. Whilst it was richer and less sweet, it lacked the definitivness of the creamy flavours of the milk chocolate, and it didn't raise the cocoa volume enough to compensate this. The redeeming issue of all this, was that in comparison to the milk chocolate variety, these dark chocolate Mikado were a little more satisfying as the chocolate flavours left a greater lasting impression in the mouth. Worth checking out if you like the originals but want something a little different.
8.3 out of 10
Glico Mikado Totally (Hazel)Nuts
Kcal 11 Fat 0.5 Carbs 1.5g (per stick)
You may be able to tell that I wrote that review on the Mikado Dark Chocolate a little while ago. Since then these Mikado Totally (Hazel)Nuts have been released here in the UK and they come described as 'Biscuits coated with milk chocolate and hazelnut pieces'. My initial thoughts about these were that it was going to be terribly difficult to integrate nuts into Mikado considering how thin they are. Looking at the sticks it was immediatedly apparent that Glico had gone about this by implementing tiny hazelnut fragments into the milk chocolate coating. Addmiteddly I was sceptical to how much of a hazelnut nut influence these minimal sized pieces were going to create, however I was surprised by what I tasted. Amazingly these (Hazel)Nuts sticks retained all the creamy milk chocolate biscuit flavours of the originals, yet also managed to layer a strong ... yes strong note of woody fresh nuts in the latter stages of the taste. Your own enjoyment of these will be dependent on your own liking of hazelnuts. It sounds silly to say that but I genuinely believed these were going to struggle get the nut element involved so thats a good thing for me to be able to write.
8.4 out of 10
Glico Pocky Chocolate-on-Chocolate Creamy
Kcal 86 Fat 4.7 Carbs 9.8g (per 16.0g packet)
As good as the Mikado offerings are here in the UK, when it comes to biscuit sticks we all know that the Japanese are the kings! Thankfully for me (and you guys of course!!) J-List are at always at hand, allowing me to try all the latest new Pocky flavours. Having tried so many different Pocky, Fran, Toppo etc products in the last three years, my most common complaint is that they are never satisfying or fulfilling enough to be an all round great snack. Well it seems that the people at Glico towers have answered my wishes with these new Glico Pocky Chocolate-on-Chocolate Creamy as they included 70.0% more chocolate on each stick! Hopeully in my photos you can see the two different chocolate layers and how they were layered to create a far thicker chocolate coating on the biscuit below. A little disappointingly these two different chocolates didn't produce much in the way of differentiated flavours, though the sweet milky taste was still very tasty when matched with the buttery flavours of the wheat biscuit sticks. I would love to see Glico make more of their more interesting variants this substantial - it's another ChocolateMission thumbs up for Pocky here.
8.4 out of 10
Meiji Fran Premium Hard Chocolate/Strawberry & Bitter
Chocolate & Bitter - Kcal 94 Fat 5.4g Carbs 9.8g (per 17.0g packet)
Strawberry & Bitter - Kcal 88 Fat 5.1g Carbs 9.3g (per 16.0g packet)
As well all know Mikado and Pocky aren't the only ones who make these chocolate stick products. Indeed there are vast amount of alternative offerings in Japan, and Meiji's Fran brand is probably another that can claim to be obscenely popular. By the looks of things, Meiji didn't want to 'miss the boat' offering consumers a more up-market version of their original Fran product line, so like Glico with the Pocky Chocolate-on-Chocolate, they have also just released a premium tier product line of Fran. Both of these Premuim Hard flavours came in stylish looking matted cardboard boxes and both contained four individual serving packs that contained three thick looking sticks in each. The blue flavour you see on the left was the original 'Chocolate & Bitter' flavour, whilst the one on the right was a 'Strawberry & Bitter' variant. Out of the two, the original chocolate was by far my favourite, and I felt that the flavour journey going from an unsweetned outer chocolate to a creamier, sweeter one below was really rather good. The strawberry sticks on the other hand didn't sit so well with me, as not only did the sticks smell artifical, but they unfortunately tasted rather like this to which came to me as a great disappointment. The blander tasting biscuit make these a less appetising product than the Pocky equivalents, though I would offer the original Chocolate & Bitter flavour as a worthy ballpark competitor.
Chocolate & Bitter -8.1 out of 10
Strawberry & Bitter -6.3 out of 10