Once upon a time (circa 2005-2013), I had a blog I called Okazu, in which I reviewed Asian snack foods. It was …ahead of its time, perhaps, and never super successful, in terms of bloggerdom. Its high point was probably during the summer I spent living in China, because I was writing just about every day. When I returned, some of my photographs were featured on Engrish.com, and I scored a guest spot on a relatively popular animation website writing a review of Hello Kitty DVDs. People I didn’t know even sent me snack foods in the mail. In an eventual attempt to eat better, I ended up consuming fewer snacks, and the blog got left behind when I started writing here more frequently. I miss writing snack reviews. It was fun, and pleasantly low pressure. Honestly, Okazu was a big part of my life for a really long time. I thought it might be nice to bring some of that back, even though many of those snacks are now pretty mainstream, and it’s likely that the novelty is gone. The fact that I can purchase Pocky at a Walmart in New Hampshire still kind of blows my mind. Welcome, Okazu.
Okazu (御菜) is a Japanese word that refers to a side dish to accompany rice. It can also be used as a term meaning something like food for thought. In some contexts (not here), the word also refers to print materials used during masturbation.
Have I mentioned I love language? I so do.
Tj recently spent time in LA for work, and brought back an assortment of green tea flavored snacks for me to eat. Have I mentioned he’s the best boyfriend? He so is. He gets a big thank you for inspiring this post.
Dars Uji Matcha
I’ve never had the plain matcha Pocky, only the limited edition matcha mousse variety. These were nice, but I actually liked the filled version much better (Pocky’s friend, Pejoy). Pejoy was entirely new to me, and I really enjoyed it. I like having the custard/cream go all the way through, and the biscuit seems much crispier.
The Dars chocolate had a nice green tea flavor, but the chocolate itself was a little waxy. I find most Japanese bar chocolates to be that way.
Pejoy and Pocky
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I’ve mentioned Abe’s Market on the blog, before. It’s one of my favorite online vendors of natural and organic products! Their selection and variety can’t be beat, and in addition to carrying some beloved well-known favorites, they also support an amazing collection of small businesses around the United States. Abe’s just launched a great new sampling program that allows you to purchase full-size product samples for just $2 each, with free shipping. Every day, the folks at Abe’s Market crack open cases of their favorite products such as Quinn Popcorn, KIND granola, and Surf Sweets sour gummy bears (my favorite). You can choose up to three samples every day; it’s a fantastic way to sample new products. Whether you want to try gluten-free snacks, goodies free of additives, or even some new vegan treats, Abe’s probably has something for you to sample.
Once you receive and try out the products, Abe’s Market will ask for some quick feedback to better improve their selections, and to help sellers discover what consumers are looking for in all-natural and organic products. That’s the best part! You can actually have some input on the kinds of snacks you’d like to see offered. More candy! More popcorn! I wish this was spicy! Maybe you want an easy way to get in a serving of vegetables every day. Here are some of the product brands currently available on the rotation. The ones in bold are ones I’ve tried! And don’t forget, the offerings are switched up regularly!
Barnana – A dehydrated banana snack comprising all of the nutrients of a banana (high potassium!) with the convenience of on-the-go snacking. The organic, non-GMO and gluten-free line includes original, coconut, chocolate and peanut butter flavors.
Fruit.0 – A super portable, compact fruit pouch containing straight up fruit, and nothing but. The 100% organic crushed fruit contains no additional ingredients or sugars and is vegan, non-GMO and free of nuts, fat, gluten, and artificial ingredients.
Birch Benders Micro Pancakery – Certified organic and non-GMO, Birch Benders include all the wholesome ingredients in the package and you only need to add water, shake and cook. The line offers gluten-free options and delicious flavors like cinnamon and banana buckwheat.
Hooray Puree – A perfect way to get your veggies on the go. Hooray Puree picks their organic vegetables at the peak of ripeness and purees them into gluten-free snack packs without adding any preservatives, dyes or acids. So when you’re not near the store, you can always have fresh sweet potatoes, spinach and butternut squash on hand.
Primal Spirit Foods: These meatless jerky strips, in six flavors like mesquite lime, teriyaki and Thai peanut, are a great dose of protein when you’re on the go. The low-fat, non-GMO vegan treats are made of soy seitan and shiitake mushrooms and are certified kosher.
I am not vegan, but these are a healthier alternative to traditional jerky. The hickory smoked flavor is delicious. Give these a sample!
Powbab: Get a daily dose of delicious 100% antioxidants and boost your immunity with vitamins A, C and E from this superfood through tasty acai and pomegranate chews, moisturizing oil, or powder you can mix into a drink. The fiber-packed vegan treat contains no gluten, dairy, soy or nuts.
Health Warrior: Boost your run or workout (or even when you need a pick me up in the middle of the day) with chia-packed, flavorful energy bars. The non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, high-fiber bars with omega-3s come in delicious flavors including chocolate peanut butter, coconut, coffee, and banana nut.
KIND: Load up on healthy and tasty gluten-free snack bars, granola, healthy grains bars and more. KIND products are GMO free, protein packed, high fiber, dairy free and all natural.
KIND is my go-to breakfast and snack bar.
Quinn Popcorn: Quinn reinvented microwave popcorn and made it healthy. Made of organic, non-GMO, vegan ingredients in a chemical-free bag, Quinn makes movie time — or anytime — more delicious with flavors including Vermont maple & sea salt, hickory smoked cheddar, parmesan & rosemary and just plain sea salt.
Vermont maple & sea salt is so, so good. If you like the sampled flavor, give that one a try.
Rip Van Wafel: Just unwrap, place over steaming coffee (or tea!) wait a few minutes and enjoy an all-natural, high fructose corn syrup-free caramel- or cocoa-filled, crunchy Dutch treat!
World Peas: This green pea snack makes it easy to forget about potato chips. With exotic flavors like Sicilian tomato, Santa Barbara ranch, Hungarian garlic and Nagano wasabi, World Peas delights without gluten, dairy or high fructose corn syrup.
The current selection of samples comprises of edibles only (which is really not a bad thing), but who knows! As the program gains popularity, maybe other products will become available? Remember to keep checking!
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.