Each week we're looking at some candies that have spawned many variations. Last week we looked at Kit Kat bars, this week we're looking at Japanese classic that's gone nuts with the varieties, Pocky. Most people consider Pocky to be a fairly new candy on the shelves, however Pocky started in Japan in 1966. These cookie sticks dipped in chocolate are as tasty as they are simple, but that doesn't mean they can't be complicated.
Pocky with vanilla cookie center dipped in milk chocolate is about all you have. Step outside of North America and this changes dramatically. In many Asian countries Pocky varieties are vast, and if you include Pocky's salty cousin Pretz, then it's even more enormous. It's strange to have such variety with a candy that is so simple, however this might prove the idea that the simplest of treats have the most potential for variation.
As of the writing of this article I've sampled 8 different varieties of Pocky, and two varieties of Pretz. This is a small sampling of the varieties available, but since I've only visited (or lived briefly) in countries that specialize in Pocky variety, it's difficult to sample every flavour. This is true because while Kit Kat seems to focus their varieties in Japan, Pocky has expanded to other Asian countries. Places like Thailand and China have their own flavours that are exclusive to these places. Pocky has also had fewer "strange" flavours, and instead seem to focus on simple flavour combinations.
Probably the strangest Pocky flavour that I've ever seen is Pocky for Men. This flavour is simple in design, dark chocolate with vanilla cookie sticks, but the idea of marketing it as a candy for men is strange, particularly from a North American standpoint. Most of the other flavours I've sampled or seen are just cookie sticks, either vanilla or chocolate, with some kind of flavoured icing, instead of chocolate. A few have broken bits of things, such as cookies, glued onto the sticks with the various flavours of icing. These are generally considered the higher end of Pocky treats, and are marketed as such.
Pretz, also made by Glico, maker of the Pocky, is a salty version with a similar concept. These are often flavoured with savory spices instead of sweet. I'm assuming that the word "Pretz" is a play on the word "pretzel". These don't have the variety that I've seen in Pocky, or the following, but are still fairly popular. These, much like Pocky, also don't come in many "strange" flavours. Most of them are based on popular savory spice and food combinations.
I'm not certain that we'll ever see the variety of Pocky in North America that there is in Asia, particularly since Pocky is a fairly new treat in these areas. In some cases you can find varieties of Pocky at specialty stores, and I've even seen Pretz at grocery stores. I just don't know if they'll ever become a classic treat, like they are in Asia.