I’ve always love how food preserves a memory.” — Piolo Pascual
When my daughter was younger, she enjoyed nibbling on Japanese Pocky sticks. These tasty chocolate-dipped biscuit sticks were a delightful and convenient treat, creating unforgettable moments that we cherish to this day.
Back when we were living in Yokohama, Japan, Pocky was a staple in our household. I’d strap her into the stroller, and she’d savor Pocky sticks on her way to school in the mornings.
The convenience of picking up a box at a Konbini (convenience store) and the distinct flavors of classic chocolate and strawberry made it a daily ritual.
Years later, when we returned to the United States, Pocky remained a beloved after-school snack. I could find them in the international section of our local grocery store or at Asian markets.
History of Pocky Sticks
Pocky, the iconic Japanese snack, has a rich and fascinating history that began in 1966 when it was first introduced by the Japanese food manufacturer Ezaki Glico Co.
The name “Pocky” is derived from the Japanese word “pokin,” which mimics the snapping sound made while eating the stick-shaped treats.
Originally marketed to young women as a convenient on-the-go snack, Pocky quickly gained popularity among people of all demographics in Japan.
The brand’s roots trace back to the founding of Glico in 1922, known for its popular caramel candy, Glico Caramel, sold in the iconic red box now associated with Pocky.
In the mid-1960s, when the only chocolate available in Japan was imported from the U.S. and Europe, Pocky was introduced as thin, chocolate-dipped cookies shaped like sticks. However, the original version had a sticky issue — the entire stick was covered in chocolate, leaving fingers messy after consumption.
Inspired by kushikatsu, a fried pork dish served skewered in Japan, Glico modified the design, leaving a portion of the cookie undipped, a feature that remains to this day.
Pocky’s popularity soared, and by the early 1970s, it had expanded its presence throughout Southeast Asia, with a company established in Thailand. New flavors were introduced, including almond-covered Pocky in 1971 and a strawberry cream version in 1976.
The global expansion of Pocky took time, reaching Europe in the 1980s, Canada in 1987, China in 1995, and the U.S. in 2003. Even today, new flavors and limited editions continue to be introduced, with over 50 different varieties available worldwide.
Pocky’s global success is evident, with approximately 500 million boxes sold annually and a total of 19 billion boxes sold worldwide since its inception. In the U.S., the snack gained popularity over the past couple of decades, becoming a household treat available in major grocery stores.
Despite its international success, Pocky remains a beloved snack in Japan, where it is offered in bars with ice water or alcohol, similar to the tradition of pretzels in American watering holes.
The snack has made appearances in anime and manga, and imitators from other countries, such as South Korea’s Pepero, acknowledge its influence.
- In 2013, Glico launched a campaign to make Pocky the most tweeted brand name in 24 hours, setting a Guinness World Record with 3.71 million mentions.
- In 2019, Pocky achieved another milestone by becoming the largest chocolate biscuit brand globally, accumulating $589 million in sales.
With its enduring popularity and continuous innovation in flavors, Pocky remains a beloved and influential Japanese snack enjoyed by people around the world.
Have you ever tried Pocky sticks? Share your Pocky memories in the comments section.
A version of this story originally appeared on Medium.
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