Here is a matchup that will divide those that have a sweet tooth: Yan Yan vs. Pocky. That’s right – a test of wills between two Asian snacks that are similar, yet decidedly different. Some people say they like both, but as we know with food, there is always a choice to be made. Coke vs. Pepsi. Waffles vs. Pancakes. Thin crust vs. Thick crust. Now we have Yan Yan vs. Pocky.
Growing up, there were three treats that I was excited to get when we went to Uwajimaya; Shrimp Chips, Pocky, and Yan Yan. Even now, I still love all three. But because Pocky and Yan Yan are so similar, they are ripe for analysis. And there has to be a preference. You can’t think they are equals, there must be a choice to be made. Thus, each will go under the microscope.
The packaging of Yan Yan is the first thing that’s distinctive. It’s like an upside-down traffic cone filled with Asian snack awesomeness. Historically there have been three dip flavors – Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. Each have Vanilla sticks, but you can also find Chocolate sticks with Vanilla cream now. Opening up a Yan Yan, you’ll see two compartments (there is even a three-parter out there too), one side for the sticks, the other for the dipping cream.
The experience of eating a Yan Yan is where it’s fun. There is a bit of DIY spirit involved where you dip the sticks into the cream yourself. Before getting started, I like to stir the cream a bit with a stick to whip the cream and give it some air and lift. Then the show begins. Put a hand up on a stick, then I dip, you dip, we dip. And you can double dip all you want! And the Yan Yan folks seem to have figured out the perfect cream to stick dipping ratio. If you don’t get too excited the cream should last through your eating adventure.
I like this experience with Yan Yan, because it’s earned and intrinsic, you are part of the creation and enjoyment. Basically, you get to play with your food. It is definitely meant to be fun. Case in point, the sticks – each one is printed with some odd descriptions. Here are the ones from my last Yan Yan binge:
- Cow – Muuuuu
- Squirrel – Your Best Friend
- Beetle – Lucky Colour: Brown
- Sheep – Wool Sweater
- Rhinoceros – Think Big
- Zebra – Herbivore
- Mouse – Do Not be Timid
- Duck – Go for a Swim
- Elephant – Jumbo
- Chicken – Kokekokko
- Octopus – Lucky Number: 8
The Yan Yan experience is definitely a snacking moment to slow down and enjoy the act of eating.
You’ll notice Pocky by its squarish box and logo that looks like a straight ripoff of Coca-Cola’s classic wave. But Pocky is its own phenomenon. This beloved treat has fans everywhere. And there is no shortage of Pocky love on the interwebs.
Pocky is different because their vanilla breadsticks are pre-coated with each flavor. The sticks are about the gauge of pretzel sticks and about five inches long. The coating goes down about 4/5 of the length so you get your chocolate (or what have you) for the duration of your snacking enjoyment.
Plus, there are a ton of flavors! I don’t want to count how many different versions of Pocky there are, but it’s at least 40. And they have funny names; there is a Men’s Pocky, which is a fancy way for saying bittersweet chocolate. I don’t quite get the correlation, but oh well.
Another great thing is that you get about 20-25 Pocky sticks per package. Because the Pocky experience is a bit more passive, you can eat this while driving or while you are trying to multitask. Kind of a nice feature. Basically, you’ll down these without even realizing you ate an entire serving in less than two minutes. Bon Appetit!
I’ve thought long and hard about the Yan Yan versus Pocky debate. It’s a tough one, each has their merits, but a decision must be made. My vote goes to Yan Yan. Why? Because I love the process of creating your snacky goodness. With Pocky, it’s passive, you just consume. Yes, it is delicious, but this eater wants a bit more out of his snack. And that’s one of the big arguments with the Yan Yan v. Pocky battle. The experience. Yan Yan fans like to say that Pocky eaters are lazy. The inverse is that Pocky eaters say ‘why work so hard for your treat?’ I think this is hilarious. Also, a lot of people already love Pocky! There are YouTube videos of Pocky! Yan Yan doesn’t have this. So that universal love isn’t there, and maybe that’s why I like it more. Because it has an underdog status; it’s slept on, but deliciously awesome in its own right. Because there isn’t this tide of emotion with Yan Yan, it could be argued that Pocky veers on the overrated side. Something to consider.
The final word is that we get to choose! Some days you can be a Pocky, some days you are a Yan Yan. I just happen to be a Yan Yan more often.