No matter how bad the school day has been, whether rejected by a crush, your club on the brink of closure or keeping your supernatural double life hidden against all odds, a feel-good snack can come to the rescue in record time. Anime is a veritable menu of choice nibbles for characters as a coming home reward, or as a coming together for good friends in free time. You may well have wondered where some of them come from, what they taste like, or what the heck they even are. With this quick guide, we’ll provide you with the tasty details, and maybe even your new favourite pick-me-up for the end of a hard day’s work.
Throughout all of anime, one sweet treat seems to rule them all; the unassuming stick of Pocky. So prevalent is its presence that stacks of boxes of the sweet biscuit are a staple at otaku conventions everywhere. Chocolate and strawberry are the staunch favourites, but there are also more unusual favourites like sweet matcha, chocolate covered coconut or choco-banana to choose from. The name ‘Pocky’ itself comes from the sound of a stick being broken by a sole devourer, or someone sharing with a special other. The ‘Pocky Kiss’ has been seen in anime from Nyan Koi! to the sultry yuri strains of Ga-Rei: Zero, the slender shape tempting Lady and the Tramp-style flirtation.
‘Bread or rice’ is a debate that trundles along in many a slice of life, or some snatched down time in more energetic anime fare like Yakitate!! Japan. But when it comes to filling that gap in the appetite on a journey home, bread wins out every time. Melonpan, or melon bread, is so named for the criss-cross pattern in its crust that recalls a cantaloupe melon rind, rather than the bread tasting anything like the fruit. Rather, the craving for any time of day has a light, sweet lemon flavour that leaves you wanting more. Shana, the titular lead of Shakugan no Shana, knows this all too well as breakfast without melonpan is no good start to her day. Her craving sees her all the way through till going home time, often spotted with bun in hand even when school is out.
For those out for something stickier, Anpan might be the carb of choice, a sweet roll stuffed with red bean paste and topped with sesame seeds. This one is a particular favourite of Sailor Moon’s Usagi Tsukino, a perfect complement to her own sweet nature. It was infamously scrubbed as a doughnut in the show’s old English dubs, for reasons of wringing the weird savoury jam out of these ‘cartoons’ for kids who wouldn’t have given a bean anyway. The world of dubs was once a strange old place. We can only be thankful that the international anime climate allows us to learn about Japan’s delightful snacking culture.
All this might sound so far over on the greedy side that you wonder how these kids have room left for their dinner. But there are healthy options that don’t cut corners on the satisfaction of sweet buns, or the cuteness of Pocky. How to Keep a Mummy bigs up the cute by having Sora Kashiwagi making apple rabbit treats for his unusual friend Mii-kun. Whipping up a plate is easier than it might first appear too. It’s just a matter of scoring a v-shape into slice of apple, then wiggling a knife a little under the skin until the section of peel comes away, leaving a set of perky rabbit ears poking up from the flesh. Usagi would likely approve of the sweetness of these as well.
It’s no wonder that we see subtle tribes pop up over snacking preferences in anime. They can be fresh and fruity or sumptuous and sticky, and even customisable to reflect the identity persona of the person chowing down. If you wound up in anime high-school, what would be your snack aesthetic? There’s plenty of choice, no matter if you’d be sharing with friends, or making like Umaru and spending some quality time with your favourite sweet or salty fix and a game after a hard day of pretending to be perfect.