Maybe it won’t be all bad when the machines gain sentience, as long as they prepare some nice snacks for us.

Japanese foodies are quick to flock to whatever the current trendy flavor is. Right now it’s mint chocolate, but in the past mango, bitter melon, and garlic have all had their boom times too.

So for snack makers and confectioners, the ideal situation is to figure out what the new hit flavor is going to be before any of your competitors, or even consumers, do. That’s what Lotte is trying to do with its line of Toppo chocolate-filled pretzel snacks, and in doing so it’s decided on a rather unexpected plan: calamansi chocolate Toppo.

For those who’ve never heard of it, calamansi (also called Panama orange or Philippine lime) is a citrus fruit that’s often used as a condiment in Asian cuisine, particularly for Filipino dishes. It’s not all that common in Japan though, so how did Lotte’s employees come up with the idea?

The answer is they didn’t. Take a look at the packaging for the calamansi Toppo above, and you might notice it’s got a high-tech motif going on, with gold lines on a green field evocative of a circuit board. That’s because the calamansi flavor was chosen by an AI program that analyzed data regarding consumer preferences in flavors and ingredients, eventually pinpointing calamansi as the poised to become the next big hit in chocolate compatible ingredients.

Lotte boasts that calamansi’s tart citrus notes and sharp aroma will make for a refreshing sweet treat. The company is sending mixed signals about its confidence in the AI-developed snack, though, with the manner in which it’s offering it for sale. While Toppo is commonly sold in convenience stores and supermarkets all over Japan, the calamansi Toppo will be available exclusively through Lotte’s online store. However, purchasers will have to buy it in bulk, as it’s only being offered in 10-box bundles for 2,700 yen (US$24).

Because of that, it’s hard to say just how much faith Lotte has in its technology’s ability to pick out snacks for human taste buds, but calamansi chocolate does sound intriguing, and if it pans out, will help Toppo shake off its stigma as being just inside-out-Pocky.

Related: Lotte online store
Sources: Peachy/Tokyo Walker via Hachima Kiko, PR Times
Top image: PR Times