Starbucks has a delicious cookie we just found out about, but the credit actually goes to one of Japan’s favorite domestic confectioners.

The sign above the door might say “Starbucks Coffee,” but here in Japan, Starbucks is at least as popular for its sweets. Aside from the never-ending parade of just-for-Japan Frapuccino flavors, the chain is a go-to supplier for cakes and pastries.

Recently, our Japanese-language reporter Masami was at our local branch of the coffeehouse, totally for the sake of keeping her finger on the pulse of Japanese food trends and not just skipping out on her other assignments because she really wanted a cookie. However, in addition to Starbucks standard cookies waiting loose inside the glass display case, she also spotted a supply of pre-bagged ones.

The cookies themselves looked a little different too, despite their unassuming “Chocolate Chunk Cookie” name. Priced at 190 yen (US$1.75), Masami saw an inexpensive and potentially delicious way to satisfy her curiosity, so she bought one to try.

▼ Removing it from its wrapper revealed that it is indeed different from Starbucks’ glass-case cookies.

As Masami took a bite, she experienced the expected rush of euphoria that always accompanies a chocolate-chip cookie’s arrival on one’s taste buds. But there was something else, too: a twinge of nostalgia.

That’s weird, though, right? How could she be feeling nostalgic for something she was eating for the first time? But she quickly took another bite (it is a very tasty cookie, after all), and there is was again: a sweet, half-remembered memory of a prior sweets session…

And then it hit her. Starbucks bagged Chocolate Chunk Cookie tastes a lot like Country Ma’am.

▼ Country Ma’am

▼ Starbucks’ Chocolate Chunk Cookie (left) and Country Ma’am (right)

For those who haven’t had the pleasure, Country Ma’am, which first went on sale in 1970, is one of Japan’s favorite domestic cookie brands. Made by Japanese confectionery company Fujiya, which started out as a single cafe in Yokohama, Country Ma’am combines just a touch of crispness on the outside with a soft and moist center, plus a precisely balanced flavor that’s never bland or overpowering, and all those descriptions apply to Starbucks’ Chocolate Chunk Cookie too.

But why does Starbucks Japan’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie taste like Country Ma’am? Because as it turns out, the Chocolate Chunk Cookie isn’t made by Starbucks. It’s made by Fujiya, as we found out when we checked its packaging!

▼ 不二家 = Fujiya

But despite their similarities, there is one key difference between the Chocolate Chunk Cookie and Country Ma’am. The ingredients for Fujiya’s for-Starbucks cookie all stand out individually, with fragrant cookie dough and bursts of chocolate richness. Country Ma’am, on the other hand, has a more uniform consistency, with a simple harmony that lasts the whole bite.

They are both delicious, though, and the Chocolate Chunk Cookie went so well with the coffee Masami also picked up that she wanted to know why the pairing was so satisfying. To get some insider information, she called up Starbucks’ customer service line and asked how the Chocolate Chunk Cookie was made. The polite customer service rep told her:

“We don’t know how Fujiya makes the cookies, so we can’t say.”

Starbucks was quick to give the credit to Fujiya, though. “We don’t have any coffees we designed specifically to be drunk with cookies,” the customer service rep explained, so the palate-pleasing results are definitely due to Fujiya’s chefs creating a cookie that tastes ood with coffee.

Of course, the Chocolate Chunk Cookie would taste great all by itself, too, or really paired with any beverage of your choice. Really, the only sad thing here is that the Starbucks Fujiya team-up is only scheduled to last until December 25, after which its unsure whether or not the coffeehouse will continue selling the cookies. We’re going to do our part to try to convince them to continue the relationship, though, by buying as many cookies as we can eat between now and then.

Country Ma’am bag image: Fujiya
All other photos ©SoraNews24

Follow Casey on Twitter, where his barber’s basket of complimentary Country Ma’am cookies in the waiting area is a major reason he gets his hair cut there.