Sunday Brunch: Cracker Snack Time with
May 1, 2011
'Hold it, Michelle-just
because there's some goofy character on the box,
it doesn't mean the product's any good, all
right? (spots a
peanut butter display) Oh, my God.
Elvis Peanut Butter-now what do you guys
want? Smooth or Hunka Hunka Chunka?' -
Uncle Jesse, Full House
Uncle Jesse, even though you gave in to
your Elvis weakness, let's put that philosophy
to the test! A few weeks ago,
my brother came home from our friend Aly's
birthday party with a surprise: totally fun,
Japanese snack pack party favors with Disney
characters on the box! The
package's words were in Japanese, though its
Nutrition Label was in English, naming the
Morinaga Pakkuncho Ichigo/Choco. Morinaga
is the name of a confectionary company in
Japan that started as a small sweet shop
selling 'Western' goods in 1899 and is now a
huge foodstuff and frozen dessert factory.
I'm assuming Ichigo means 'strawberry'
and Choco is 'chocolate' based on the package
design. The product by itself
is simply a wheat cracker filled with a flavored
cream filling. For years since my youth, I've
seen these types of products featuring adorably
designed animal characters at the various Asian
and Filipino food marts in our area.
They usually featured a family of
Hello Kitty and friends, but this was the
first time I had seen Disney characters!
Minnie Mouse, and a handful of classic
In America, we see plenty
of Disney characters promoting some kind of food
to appeal to children. They
are typically limited to the most popular Disney
franchises for today's general Disney audience:
Toy Story, and once in a while Mickey and
friends. In Japan, the
collection of characters spans all the classic
animated features from
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to
Lilo and Stitch.
Tokyo Disneyland know very well that the
classic characters are where it's at, including
some completely random characters that have
gained a fan base, such as Marie from
The Aristocats. I
noticed another little-known character who
shared the spotlight with the famous mouse
the little air mail plane from
Saludos Amigos, is a featured
character for the crackers
With American culture
currently embedded in Pixar mania, it is
refreshing to see how much the Japanese love
Disney's classic animated characters.
Morinaga's crackers, or rather biscuits,
certainly pay tribute to them, even past the
colorful packaging as each little pakkuncho
features a different character outline on its
surface. The package has even
more fun printed inside as there is a guide
showing snackers all of the possible designs you
crackers packaged in a Mickey Mouse decorated
the characters I got! There
seems to be doubles of Pooh and Tigger, but they
are simply different poses.
is made to be easily opened and reclosed thanks
to tabs and some clearly thought out package
all the characters your mouth can collect!
The crackers are made of
the expected ingredients such as wheat flour,
sugar, milk, shortening, baking powder, etc.
I was a bit alarmed to read the
ingredient list of the Pakkuncho Ichigo
(Strawberry). The package art
features a delicious looking strawberry next to
the cracker, but when looking at the list there
is no reference to strawberries at all:
those strawberries?? Here's a
fun tip: ingredients are listed in an order in
which the ingredient that is the highest
percentage of the product is listed first.
You should be alarmed when you're buying
a product like perhaps chocolate, but sugar is
the first ingredient.
The closest thing we get to
strawberries is 'flavor' and 'red beet color.'
Hmmm'that's a little fishy, though fresh
strawberries would indeed reduce the shelf life
of such a snack product, so what can you expect
from a mass produced, sugar filled snack?
The pakkuncho choco ingredient label was
less of a worry as it included solid cocoa mass,
cocoa butter, and
cocoa powder. In order
to provide the best review for this snack pack,
rather than preserve this random piece of
Japanese snack culture forever in our home a la
Mickey's Magix Cereal (see the March 6 Sunday
Brunch), I opened up the package to give it a
try. No lie, as soon as the
plastic wrapper of the inner package tore at the
seam, I was hit with a burst of artificial
strawberry aroma. The entire
room smelt too much like Strawberries, but it
also smelled fake. This
should be a Smencil, or a scratch-and-sniff
sticker, or even Lotso Huggin' Bear, but
definitely not food! Still,
when it comes to sweets, I'm the adventurous
type, so I took a bite.
'Strawberry' Cr'me filled cracker
The cracker was new, but
familiar. The filling was
just as extremely powerful ' especially if you
weren't knocked out by its smell already ' and
the cracker part was very plain tasting, which
was necessary to balance out the overpowering of
the cr'me. It was kind of
Strawberry ice cream, but at room
temperature and not melting.
The sweetness and artificialness was a bit of a
turn off, but I felt like a kid again eating
fake flavored food in a box with my favorite
So in the end, Uncle Jesse
was right. The product hiding
behind a colorful box may not exactly be that
great. From a nutritional
viewpoint, Disney character Pakkuncho crackers
don't offer too much. A large blue star has some
Japanese characters with 'Ca' in big red
letters. While I'm sure
they're not advertising for people to visit
California, I'm pretty sure they are referring
to the fact that this product contains calcium.
Calcium bicarbonate was added to the
product and is also present in the milk
ingredients; when looking closer at the label, a
serving (about 5 crackers) offers 2% of your
daily value of calcium. Not a
lot, but a significant amount for the serving
size indicated (5 crackers).
Chip n Dale and Alice!
Still, who cares about
nutrition when you have Disney characters (on
model, too!) adorning your cr'me filled
biscuits! These snacks are
obviously more for the novelty and fun rather
than nourishment, and that's why they continue
to be produced in Japan and a fun novelty find
for Americans. Marketing
Disney characters on products has been around
since the 1930's and it's always fun to see what
types of things Mickey Mouse ends up on.
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