Japan from the inside out

La vie en choco

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 16, 2012

THERE is an abundance of elegant and flavorful hors d’oervres and appetizers that make a perfect food companion for wine. In addition to the many varieties of cheese, one cannot fail to mention foie gras, caviar, spring rolls, vegetables with hummus, crab dab, artichoke and parmesan-filled wonton cups…

And Choco Pies!

Stay your condescending laughter, lest you contradict the opinions of the experts and professionals assembled by the Lotte Co. to celebrate their new Choco Pie product.

Lotte is a large multinational conglomerate with its business fingers in all sorts of pies. Named after the character Charlotte in The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe, the company was founded by Shin Kyeok-ho in Tokyo in 1947, and now has more than 60 business units. One of their enterprises is the production and sale of mass market confections, and the slogan of that unit is, “Sweetheart of your mouth”.

Their Choco Pie product hit the market 30 years ago next year, and it quickly became a popular snack. The company decided to create a new pie recipe and enhance their brand image for the anniversary. To promote the improved Choco Pie, they held a trial tasting yesterday in Tokyo for 30 people. The large group of 30 was divided into sub-groups of five people each by occupation, and included patissiers, sommeliers, and female college students.

The experts were unanimously complimentary of the new product’s “refined flavor”. Said the representative of the sommelier group:

“There is an aroma of fragrant cacao, a light, puff-like texture that melts in the mouth, and a body resembling a hidden flavor in the sweetness.”

If that wasn’t enough incentive to head over to the nearest convenience store, he added:

“It is suited for pourriture noble wines (literally noble rot, meaning wine made from grapes with a deliberately cultivated gray mould), or, for red wines, an Amarone or other sweet variety.”

All five sommeliers agreed the Choco Pies had become more delicious. While reports did not include the discriminating judgment of the female college students, the sommeliers’ opinion was seconded by actress Kawashima Naomi, whose husband is patissier Yoroizuka Toshihiko. That’s the epicurean couple in the photo above.

Ms. Kawashima is something of a wine expert, or at least she is reputed to be so. She has said in public that her body is made out of wine, and that wine flows in her blood. Here’s a photo of her getting a transfusion, or perhaps a transmutation.

She also vouched for Choco Pies:

“I think this absolutely would be suited to wine, particularly champagne.”

I’m not sure even Lotte expected what came next:

“I think it also has a fragrance that makes it a perfect match for grain shochu.”

Then again, she also likes cigars.

Sales of the downmarket delicacy began on 21 August, and to this point Lotte has enjoyed a 117% year-on-year increase in shipment value since its release. The company has also created and is selling special seasonal Choco Pies. A videomaker named Shitemita introduces one here, which is advertised as having a slightly bitter taste. Shitemita is impressed that it’s made with vanilla beans from Madagascar.

So am I, come to think of it.

One Response to “La vie en choco

  1. Yes, but do Choco Pies go well with sake?
    I don’t think so, but then I haven’t had the new ones yet. Did you have any of the old ones? Your wife probably did when she was a girl.


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