Perhaps the best use of two dollars, Meiji's Kinoko No Yama ("mountain mushrooms"), are found at even the most average Japanese market. The chocolate cap and biscuit-like cracker stem harmonize wonderfully. And the chocolate-to-cracker ratio is spot on. While the milk chocolate isn't great quality, similar to Glico's Pocky, there's something about the chocolate's density that offsets the cracker stem perfectly.
Don't be confused by other woodland-shaped chocolate and cracker competitors! There's the tree-stump snack, Bourbon's Kikori no Kirikabu ("chocolate and cookie snack") and the bamboo-shoot snack, Meiji's Takenoko No Sato ("village bamboo shoot"). These don't come close to Kinoko No Yama.
Who knows which came first, and, frankly, who cares. The chocolate-biscuit ratio in the tree stumps and bamboo shoots is way off. Too much cracker, people! And honestly, why tree stumps? Do people actually eat tree stumps? Or a whole mess of them? It makes no sense!
But desperate times call for desperate measures. When the chocolate-capped mushrooms are nowhere to be seen, I've caved and bought the bamboo shoots. And I can tell you, they are no substitute for Kinoko No Yama.
Deliciousness aside, I do sometimes wonder why they're shaped like mushrooms. And I am a little stumped. Maybe there's some kind of Japanese cultural significance in having snacks shaped like things found in nature, but my Western mind just can't wrap itself around that. Maybe the mountainous mushrooms have a cultural connotation with longevity? Good health? Wisdom? It escapes me, but I'm OK with that. Because they're really that good.
I find it disconcerting when food doesn't taste like what it represents—the hot dog gum that doesn't taste like hot dogs but fruit. Or those awful gummy hamburgers that taste nothing like a hamburger. It's deceptive because those gummy snacks are far from tasty. Now that I think about it, it would probably not be delicious if Kinoko No Yama did, in fact, taste like a fungus.
Nevertheless, how many foods out there expect you to activate a suspension of disbelief and actually reward you for it? Case closed. Kinoko No Yama are the best Japanese chocolaty cracker snacks.
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