Which came first–the Pocky or the Pepero?

Did you know you can buy Japanese Pocky in South Korea? Japan’s Glico partnered up with Korean snack company Hete in 2013 to start selling authentic Japanese Pocky in the country. It may have had some scratching their heads, though, because Korea already had a snack very similar to Pocky, called Pepero.

▼ Here’s a package of Pepero, manufactured by Lotte.

▼ And this is Pocky, manufactured by Glico.

Both are pretzel-like snack sticks coated in some sort of flavor, and for the Original flavor of each, it’s chocolate. Side by side, they look almost identical, but it may surprise you to know that Pocky (first sold in Japan in 1966) came before Pepero (first sold in Korea in 1983). Fun fact: A while back, Glico actually filed a complaint against Lotte over Pepero.

So, does that technically make Pepero a knockoff of Pocky? And if so, how similar are they? That’s where our Japanese-language reporter Soon Pyon comes in. While in Korea, he decided to try Pocky and Pepero side by side to see how similar or different they taste. His first observation was that their prices were nearly identical: 1180 won (US$0.92) for Pepero, and 1000 won (US$0.78) for Pocky in Korea.

▼ Each package contains one pouch of biscuit sticks, sealed for freshness. No differences there except for the packaging design.

When he took them out of their packaging, he also concluded they were nearly identical. Even the patterns on the exposed biscuit part were eerily similar. The only difference he could see was that there might have been more Pepero than Pocky per package.

▼ Quiz time! Out of these five sticks, which one is Pocky?

We’ll give you some time.

A bit more time.

Don’t scroll if you’re still guessing.

A little more…

Okay, here’s the answer!

▼ If you guessed the second one from the bottom, you’re correct!

Totally, obvious, right? Just kidding, we would have failed if we didn’t already know the answer. However, if you zoom in on each side by side (Pepero on the left, Pocky on the right in the image below), you can see that Pocky is a bit thinner and longer.

▼ Pocky’s chocolate is also slightly darker.

▼ And now for the taste test! Left is Pepero, right is Pocky.

Soon Pyon thought that Pocky had a more pronounced chocolate flavor and a crunchier stick, while Pepero was a bit milder and sweeter. But honestly, it would be hard to tell them apart if you didn’t know you were eating two different snacks. In terms of how close a copy Pepero is to Pocky, Soon Pyon gives it 9 out of 10 Imitation Points.

So yes, Pepero and Pocky are very close to one another in both price and flavor. They’re so close that after performing this taste test, Soon Pyon can’t help but feel a little surprised when he goes to the grocery store…

…and sees that both products are apparently thriving in Korea, even though they’re basically the same snack. Oh well, he figures, there must be different markets for both, maybe people who want a nice Korean snack and people who want an authentic taste of Japan. If you want exclusive Pocky collaborations like Glico’s one with Tokyo Disneyland, though, Pocky is still your only option.

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