The case of Toppo vs. Nude Pepero and Pepero vs. Pocky.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if you consider flattery to be a form of affection, it stands to reason that there’s going to be a lot of imitation when it comes to sweets, considering how widely loved they are.

Our Korean reporter Soon Pyon’s can’t help but notice how similar certain sweet snacks sold in Korea are to predecessors from Japan, and has made it his duty to protect consumers from the potential disappointment of unfulfilled false expectations by dutifully doing double dessert duty, eating both the original and the imitation, to let us know how they compare. For his latest entry in this hard-hitting investigative series, he’s turned his attention to Toppo and Nude Pepero.

Japan’s Toppo is a pretzel-like stick with a chocolate core, made by confectioner Lotte. A 70-gram (2.5-ounce) box sells for 150 yen (US$1.08).

Korea’s Nude Pepero is also a chocolate-filled pretzel stick, and it looks almost identical to Toppo. The per-pack price and quantity are similar too, at 1,300 won (equivalent to about 130 yen) for a 50-gram pack.

But while Toppo is made by Lotte, Nude Pepero is made by…


Yep, Toppo and Nude Pepero are both made by the same company. Soon Pyon’s had always just sort of assumed that Nude Pepero was a knockoff, but it turns out they’re corporate cousins.

Though originally founded in Japan, Lotte has an even more significant presence in Korea. Toppo went on sale in Japan in 1994, and a year later pretty much the same product went on sale in Korea, but under the name Topic. In 2000, though, Topic got absorbed into a different brand of candy that Lotte sells in Korea, called Pepero, and was renamed Nude Pepero. Why “nude?” Apparently because Nude Pepero’s plainly visible pretzel stick is what’s at the center of normal Pepero, which is a chocolate-coated pretzel stick.

▼ Pepero

Two things probably spring to mind here. First, “Inside-Out Pepero” or “Reverse Pepero” would make more sense than “Nude Pepero,” even if they are less sexy-sounding. Second, doesn’t Pepero, right down to the package design, look an awful lot like an imitation of Pocky, the most famous product from Japanese candymaker Glico?

The answer to all of those is yes. As a matter of fact, a couple years ago Glico filed a legal complaint against Lotte over Pepero since Pocky had already been on sale for 17 years by the time Lotte got the idea to start selling Pepero, though no major repercussions seem to have resulted from the action.

But all of these legal disputes are beyond our powers to settle, and so we’ll be limiting ourselves to rendering a verdict in Flavor Court in the case of Toppo vs. Nude Pepero, which Soon Pyon’s learned do have some subtle differences.

They are incredibly similar-looking, though. For example, this might look like six sticks from the same pack, but actually five of them are Toppos, with one Nude Pepero having snuck into the group shot. Can you tell which one it is?


…this one. The Nude Peperos are ever so slightly girthier, and their marking a little larger, than the Toppos.

▼ Left: Nude Pepero
Right: Toppo

As for their flavor, while Soon Pyon’s was surprised to realize that the two snacks are made by the same company, now that he does know that, it wasn’t a shock that the flavor of their pretzel outsides and chocolate insides are more or less identical, but there’s still a deciding factor as to which one he’d recommend to you.

Matching tastes aside, Toppo has more chocolate inside. The Toppo package really is a fair representation, Soon Pyon’s says, as you get a sweet, chocolate sensation all the way through its flavor profile.

So if it’s sweetness that you’re craving over all else, Toppo is the one to reach for. On the other hand, if the saltiness is also a key factor in your current stomach growling, Nude Pepero is the optimal option, though ultimately either one is a fine choice.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!