A Probing Look at Kancho Choco Biscuits

Okashii Okashi samples Japanese (and occasionally other Asian) snacks (okashi) that are strange and amusing (okashii).

Lotte is an Asian conglomerate (despite the German-inspired name) with a bit of a complicated history. Founded in Tokyo in 1948 by a man of Korean descent, the company maintains operations in Korea and Japan, as well as a host of other Asian countries. And while Lotte does business in shopping centers, hotels, oil companies, baseball teams, and even an amusement park, it's Lotte Confectionery, based in Seoul, which concerns us here.

I found Lotte's Kancho in the Bellevue Uwajimaya store, which seems to have a large snack section than the Seattle location. This "choco biscuit" comes in a pink box and features male and female cookie characters named Kany and Chony winking and giving the thumbs up, exclaiming "taste good!" Inside are little bite-sized biscuits filled with chocolate, each cookie containing a drawing of a character or an object like an umbrella or house. Some simply said the word "Love."

Kancho are crisp with a rather plain flavor, much like the Yan Yan I described in the previous Okashii Okashi column, though less interactive. Don't look for high-quality chocolate in these biscuits, but do look for strawberry flavor in the U.S. if you're seeking something different. If you get to Asia, you might find more diverse flavors, such as honeydew.

Lotte packages essentially the same biscuit in Japan under the name Koala's March (also known as Koala's Yummies in the U.S.), with proceeds supporting the Australian conservation group Australian Koala Foundation. The biscuits are shaped like little koala bears (depicted on each cookie doing various activities) and come in a hexagon-shaped box. In the battle of the bears, rival biscuits include Meiji's Hello Panda and Edo's Hugging Koala.

Lotte introduced both Kancho and Koala's March in 1984. The word "kancho" has no meaning in Korea, but was ill-advised for use in Japan, as it's a Japanese prank of extending and inserting one's fingers (in a Charlie's Angels-like gesture) into someone's butt. You see, this kancho, written in katakana, is a slang adaptation of kancho written in kanji, which is Japanese for enema. While an old Kancho website (where you can learn more, including a viewing of a "kanchomentary") calls kancho a "friendly enema," others can rightly argue that it's actually a form of sexual assault. Let's hope that Kany and Chony have a more consenual and cuddly relationship than this.

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