To celebrate Food on a Stick Day, this Nibble post celebrates Pocky sticks and their Korean and Indonesian cousins—all found at the Reliable Market.
Yes, it’s March 28, the day to sit back and reflect upon all the wondrous food available on sticks: kebabs, popsicles, cake pops, corndogs and….Pocky! For the uninitiated, Pocky hails from Japan; they are biscuit sticks covered with chocolate or some other sugary coating. They are Kit Kat-esque in concept, but more elegant, exotic and sassy. Pocky sticks are found at the Reliable Market and many Asian grocery stores. On a recent visit to the Reliable, we were heartbroken to see that the “Men’s Pocky” (featuring a darker, manlier chocolate) was out of stock; yet they did have plain chocolate and strawberries and cream varieties available.
While mesmerized in front of the pocky shelves, we noticed a few other brands, including Pepero (from Korea) and Lucky Sticks (from Indonesia). We were tempted by the vaguely naughty sounding Pepero “nude” variety. Yet we ultimately settled on Pepero’s almond chocolate sticks and they were delicious: a good crunch, not too sweet and the almonds provide a nice variation in flavor and texture.
A few months ago, we met a chipper young Korean named James (정철현) who gave us a primer on Korean cuisine in Union Square (read about it here: Adventures in Kimchi, part 1). He’s now back in Korea but always available when we have urgent questions about Korean snacks. James tells us via email that Pepero, introduced in 1983, is older than he is! He grew up munching on these fabulous stick snacks and likes them better than Pocky sticks (surprise, surprise).
“We even have a Pepero Day,” James explains. “It’s every November 11th. This is because when you write out the date numerically—11.11—it looks like four Pepero sticks! It’s a bit like Valentine’s Day. It’s when you share Pepero with someone you like. LOL.”
We found a Pepero video on YouTube featuring ridiculously peppy Pepero characters (and one strangely angry one). Caution: if you watch this video you will likely have the frenetic pop song replaying in your head all day. It also may cause you to march down to the Reliable to buy some Pepero sticks. While you’re visiting the Reliable, check out the sake wall; they have one of the best selections in the Boston area. If you want tips on what type to buy, check out this Nibble post featuring certified sake expert Richard Auffrey: Sake 101 at the Reliable.