If you feel confined by the confectionery selection in your local grocery store and need something new, look no further than Glico, the candy company that is fast becoming Japan’s most famous edibles exporter.
Started in 1922 by Riichi Ezaki, Glico’s first product was caramel flavoured with oyster extract, believed to have curative powers. It also spawned the company name: Glico is a derivative of the word glicogan, or oyster extract. Soon after, Pocky was introduced in Japan and rocketed to stardom; it remains one of the country’s best selling cookies to this day.
Pocky, a long thin cookie dipped in a sugary icing, is as famous in Japan as Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Giant Pocky vending machines litter the streets. There is a flavour of Pocky for every taste: dark and light chocolate, strawberry and milk, Tomato Pretz, Beer Pretz and the intricately crafted Almond Crush Pocky.
Beyond the obvious appeal of the candy, it is the juxtaposition of Japanese and Western attitudes towards confectionery that makes Glico’s products unique; the packaging is often a work of art. The role of candy in society differs as well; Glico claims their gum stimulates thought and enhances dental health. The influence of fads has also led to a Men’s Pocky, a dark chocolate flavour renamed in response to a trend of women wearing men’s clothing.
Already popular with Japan-obsessed teenagers, Pocky is gaining favour in many segments of North American society.