All cultures have their idiosyncratic debates; those minor ones that rage on and on, sometimes for generations. Toilet paper: scrunch or fold? Front seat: whoever calls it first or survival of the fittest? How do you settle an age old debate of chocolate snacks?
Today I encountered one unique to Japan – and that is the battle between Kinoko No Yama and Takenoko No Sato. With 2 friends in the local combini to grab some snacks quickly became an all out war as each staunchly defended their choice of bite-sized chocolate/cookie snack. For two products which are effectively the same, I found it very difficult to understand (if fact, I found it hilarious) how battle lines could be drawn so fiercely.
Kinoko No Yama are the ones that look like little mushrooms, and they have a cookie stem, with the ‘cap’ covered in chocolate. Takenoko No Sato on the other hand, looks more like a chocolate-coated pinecone, but is actually modelled after the top of bamboo shoots (I’m told takenoko translates to ‘child of bamboo’)
In the Kinoko No Yama corner was Yuka and she eagerly began describing about her discerning taste, and how Takenoko No Sato was for kids, and simply too sweet to be the best snack.
This was quickly refuted by Takenoko No Sato fan Akiho – who argued that the whole purpose of these sweets is to be sweet! Why bother otherwise?
The texture of the cookie itself was also it’s own battleground – with Kinoko No Yama having a much clearer separation between cookie and chocolate, against the more integrated takenoko. Again both girls guaranteed me that their respective choices provided maximum sugar-based satisfaction.
Yuka’s parting shot was took the argument to a whole other level – that she was a self-confessed born again kinoko missionary – In her childhood having preferred Takenoko No Sato, she was now seeking to convert heathen Takenoko No Sato worshippers toward the light of the fungus-shaped snack.
After spending too long arguing about it – there was only one way to decide – an unbiased taste test by myself, who having never tasted either before was perfectly placed to decide once and for all which was superior. In the interests of a perfectly unbiased test, the standard milk chocolate versions of each were chosen and a janken conducted to decide first tasting.
A box of each was carefully opened and Kinoko No Yama won the honours. Mildly sweet chocolate and a crunchy fragment of cookie made for a rather delicious snack. Takenoko No Sato had a tall order to follow.
But to Yuka’s utter dismay – it was the superior texture of cookie and chocolate that had me backing Takenoko No Sato’s corner, and going back for a second, third and fourth helping from the green box.
The victory was so comprehensive, that after hearing word of Takenoko No Sato’s victory – my host family decided to cook the real thing for dinner. And while not as sweet, it was equally delicious.
I have to say now that I am a proud Takenoko No Sato man now, I can’t just stop at one miniature chocolate-covered bamboo shoot – but which do you prefer, and why?