Snacking during Chestnut Season? Grab some Toppo!

Autumn is fast approaching in Japan, and we've already started to enjoy falling temperatures and in some places, leaves have even started to change color.  It also means that fall flavors will be starting to reappear in foods throughout Japan.  

A favorite autumn flavor here is marron, or chestnut, and you will find it just about anywhere: pastries (mont blanc is a Japanese favorite), wagashi (Japanese confectionary), drinks (head to your nearest Starbucks soon), and many, many others. 

Well, one very Japanese way to usher in this new season is to visit the chocolate and candy aisle at any supermarket or convenience store.  There, you'll find that all of the autumnal flavors will be present long before the first leaf falls.  As for Chestnut flavors?  You guessed it, it tops the list of options in Autumn.

For example, check out these Mont Blanc-inspired Kinoko no Yama (one of Japan's most popular options):

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While there are many, many other varieties, I opted for Toppo.

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Why Toppo?  Well, if you have never had it before, Toppo is like an inside out Pocky, where the biscuit portion is on the outside with the chocolate inside.  Made by the same folks who bring you Pie no Mi and Koala March, Toppo has become a rival of Pocky.  While it still may only be the Pepsi to Pocky's Coca-Cola, it is still found everywhere throughout Japan.  Moreover, the company has really started to push the seasonal varieties in an effort to catch up to Pocky, which always has more than a few limited edition options available.

Me, I've always preferred Toppo because the biscuit is tastier, it doesn't melt as quickly as Pocky, and even when it does, you never have to worry about a mess. That said, in this trip, the Chestnut Toppo came home with me.

Like most Toppo boxes, this came with two sleeves of Toppo sticks.  The difference came when you opened it up--these Toppo were wider than normal to accommodate more of that limited edition chestnutty-chocolate goodness.

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Let me tell you, the flavor was great.  As always, the biscuit shell was tasty, and the chocolate center had a perfect balance between the chesnut and cocoa flavors.  The best part was that it was surprisingly aromatic, offering a nice chestnut scent as we enjoyed them.  How aromatic?  Well, enough to make my dog run over from the other room and beg to have some!

So there you have it... of the best quick and easy Chestnut-flavored options available to you through your journeys in Japan.  There aren't a lot of seasonal varieties that warrant a second visit, but this one definitely earns a repeat purchase.  So I say zehi, grab a box for the road--your taste buds will thank you! 

Mike B