Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Thai Sweets

     I'm labeling these foods as Thai because they were all made in Thailand.  However, it's a bit more complicated than that.  Of the two companies whose products I'll be discussing, one of them, Lotte, was started by a Korean man, Shin Kyuk-ho, while he was living in Japan.  The two main headquarters of Lotte are therefore in Korea and Japan.  The other one, Ezaki Glico, is a Japanese company.  But, clearly, both of these companies have manufacturing centers in other places, including Thailand.  I sampled the chocolate and green tea flavored biscuit sticks from Ezaki Glico, and the chocolate creme and strawberry creme cookies from Lotte.
     The Koala's March cookies from Lotte take this theme pretty strongly.  Each cookie has a (edible) drawing of a a koala bear on it, in various poses and moods.  Some are scuba diving, some gardening, some hula dancing, some sleeping, and their moods range from happy to pissed off.  (Some appear to be male, and others female, additionally.)  The company also supports the real animal, as they're part of the Australian Koala Foundation.  The company's name is not a Korean or Japanese word or person's name, but is short for "Charlotte," a character in Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther" (1774). which founder Shin Kyuk-ho was quite the fan of.  (Classic horror readers may recall that this book is one of the three that the Monster found, and learned from, in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," the others being Plutarch's "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans" and Milton's "Paradise Lost.")  Returning to the cookies, alternate flavors include vanilla, honey, cafe latte, and banana.
     The Ezaki Glico company was a target of a bizarre terrorist group back in 1984-85.  First the president of the company, Katsuhisa Ezaki, was kidnapped, but managed to escape.  Then the company received letters from a person (or more likely, a group) billing themselves as "The Monster with 21 Faces" (after a character/group in the famous Japanese detective series written by Edogawa Rampo) threatening to put Glico products on shelves that were laced with deadly cyanide.  No poisoned confections were found, but the company lost an estimated $21 million when they were compelled to pull their products out of stores.  Further taunting letters were also sent to the police and the press.  Then, the group switched to the Moringaya candy company, and this time poisoned candy was actually found.  (Oddly, the tampered packages were marked, "Danger: Contains Toxins.)  No one died from these, but again, sales were clearly adversely affected, and people were understandably frightened.  Still other food companies also received threatening letters from this terrorist cabal.  Finally, a police superintendent, Yamamoto, evidently out of shame about not finding the group and bringing them to justice, committed suicide in an especially disturbing fashion, by self-immolation.  This seemed to placate The Monster with 21 Faces group, as after a final letter they stopped their communications and activities.  And they got away with it--good suspects were found to have airtight alibis,  Video footage was recovered of a man putting a poisoned package on a shelf, but he wasn't identified.  Another man was followed as he was acting suspicious near one of the ransom drops, but he also got away.  The statutes of limitations have since passed for all the group's crimes.  So kind of a Japanese version of the poisoned Tylenol scare in the Chicago area in 1982.
     But I've gotten off track.  Back to the innocent confections.  I'll once again use my typical ratings  based on the U.S. scholastic system--"A" for excellent, "B" for good, "C" for average, "D" for unsatisfactory but barely passing, and "F" for failing, with pluses and minuses as necessary.

Lotte's Koala March cookies, strawberry creme flavor: A-.  These cookies are small, and shaped like bow ties.  Very good,  They reminded me of similar flavored wafer cookies.

Lotte's Koala March cookies, chocolate creme flavor: B+.  Fairly similar to their strawberry sibling, a little less tasty.  But still better than average.

Ezaki Glico Pocky biscuit sticks, chocolate cream flavor: B.  These are skinny, rod-shaped sticks, with about 80% of the stick being covered in a chocolate coating.  Very good as well.  (It's hard to mess up a treat covered in chocolate, I guess.)

Ezaki Glico Pocky biscuit sticks, green tea flavor: C-. Looks like the chocolate kind, only mostly coated in green. Tastes like green tea, to the snack's detriment--I don't particularly like green tea, and thus this stick.  Also had a rather unpleasant, lingering aftertaste.

     I forgot to mention earlier, but other flavors of the Pocky sticks include milk, mousse, honey, coconut, and then some stranger ones--sweet potato, and corn on the cob.  Also, the kind with dark, bitter chocolate is called, "Men's Pocky."  (Which is an odd title to me, since I've known many women who prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, and bitter flavors in general, like IPA beers, maybe even more so than men.  But whatever.)
     So, to sum up, I liked the Lotte cookies, and would snap these up again, or additional flavors.  Don't think I'll buy the Pocky sticks again, unless it's another flavor (especially the vegetable-flavored ones, more out of morbid curiosity than actual interest.)
     If any readers have more detail on the "Monster with 21 Faces" case, I'd certainly be interested in hearing about them.

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