Stepping into a Japanese konbini (convenience store) you are greeted with rows dedicated to Japan’s finest, tastiest and sometimes wackiest chocolates and candies. Japan has been a main producer of all types of wacky foods and candy like chocolate covered squid and soy sauce flavored Kit Kats. Beyond the wild sweet treats, Japan has been a constant leader in the candy and chocolate market with companies like Pocky, Pretz, Milky, Meiji and so much more!
Not many snacks have a whole day dedicated to celebrating it. But when a snack becomes a national icon, it’s easy to see why! Pocky Day is an annual celebration in Japan on November 11th.
This day gives the opportunity for fans to gather together and show their sweet appreciation for the tasty treat. This celebrated day even has special games and activities dedicated to it! Read on to find out more about Pocky Day!
Pocky was invented by Yoshiaki Koma and released in 1966 by the Ezaki Glico food corporation. Pocky’s concept was inspired by its older savory sibling Pretz which hit the market a few years earlier in 1963. When Pocky was first released it became instantly popular, but the company soon realized that the chocolate covered biscuit stick had an issue.
It was incredibly messy to eat! Originally it was manufactured with the entire stick being coated in uniquilly tasty Pocky chocolate. To stop the river of chocolate running onto customers’ fingers, Glico came up with a burst of ingenuity.
The genius idea of removing the chocolate around the bottom of the stick, creating a sort of handle. Since the update, the chocolate snack has continued to sky rocket in popularity. Even after almost 60 years, this snack is still adored, both in Japan and across the world.
Whether you know Pocky as Mikado (Europe until 2014), or as Rocky (in Malaysia) the product still holds all of its tasty virtues. Irresistibly tempting sweet chocolate biscuit coated around a pretzel biscuit that gives a satisfying snap as you eat it.
It’s no surprise then, that the origin of “Pocky” comes from the Japanese onomatopoeia word pokkin (ポッキン) which refers to the snapping sounds of the biscuit!
Pocky hasn’t just stayed as the classic chocolate coating it originally was, but has exploded into some wonderful and unusual flavors. Glico branched out into other flavors, and in the 1970’s, they released flavors like Strawberry Pocky and almond.
However, it wasn’t until the 1980’s and 1990’s when they really began to get creative with their flavors. Flavors like Pocky Bitter, Almond Crush, and the extra tasty freeze dried strawberry chocolate chunks.
From the 2000’s onwards Pocky started introducing limited edition flavors, seasonal flavors and location exclusive flavors. The fun flavors often cause a buying frenzy. So, if you spot a unique flavor make sure to grab it, because there is no guarantee that you’ll ever see it again.
More unusual flavors like matcha, cookies n’ cream, coffee, sweet potato, corn on the cob and the “adult” refined flavors are worth searching out and trying!
Even more so, the regional flavors like sweet sake from Tokyo, Amaou Strawberry from Kyushu, Yubari Melon from Hokkaido, and Uji Matcha from Kyoto to name a few! Not only do these Pocky have unique flavorings, they are actually 1.5x bigger than a standard box!
The treat’s ever growing popularity peaked in 1999 when the first annual Pocky Day was established. Almost 36 years later, Glico declared a worldwide sensation celebrating the chocolate and its counterpart Pretz. Although the year may seem randomly chosen, it actually has a significant meaning in Japan.
The stick-like shape resembles the figure “1”, the day November 11 reads as 11/11, which looks like four Pocky sticks lined up. However, the first Pocky Day was organized on November 11 in 1999. In Japan this year is the Japanese year of the Heisei 11 era. Which makes the very special day – 11/11/11! A truly once in a generation chance!
Although you can celebrate this occasion by opening up a box of Pocky with friends and talking about some of your favorite flavors. Some fans have actually taken their enthusiasm to new heights.
On November 11, 2012 a new Guinness world record was produced with a whopping 1,843,733 fans taking to Twitter to mention “Pocky” within a 24 hour period. The following year in 2013, the cult following broke the record to 3,710,044 mentions of the brand!
Now, if professing your admiration via Twitter is not quite your thing there are other fun activities you can join in. The most popular involves two friends, or a couple biting both ends of the stick and trying not to break their own ends. Certainly not a game for the light hearted.
Another common activity to play is creating Pocky Towers. Imagine Jenga, but using the sticks as your building blocks! Some take this game seriously and construct impressively high towers.
Whatever way you decide to enjoy Pocky Day on November 11th, don’t forget to grab a box and munch on the tastiest treats in Japan!
Tokyo based writer that's very enthusiastic about snacks, treats and all things sweet!
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