Friday, February 5, 2016

What's in a name? Glico Pockifies the snack world.

Glico is a legendary Japanese snack company, famous for hits like Pretz, Cheeza, and of course, Pocky. For folks who aren't familiar with them, Pocky are boxes of long, thin pretzels individually covered with chocolate, strawberry, or other coatings. According to Glico's website, the idea was basically to cover a Pretz with a layer of chocolate. Simple enough, and it was a smash hit.
"Salad" Pretz
Glico has a knack for coming up with unusual product names. This is, after all, the company that sells a line of snack biscuits called Collon, including variants like (and I'm not making this up) Creamy Collon. Yummy.
Pocky macha + chocolate flavor

"Pocky" is a weird enough name, but recently Glico has topped it with a campaign of new titles for its beloved snack line. The names take all or part of an English or Japanese word and add "cky" (or "cy") to Pockify it.

At first glance, some of them don't make a lot of sense, but there are subtitles explaining what Glico is getting at. Some names are straightforward. Others offer insights into Japanese culture. Let's have a look:
Simple and old timey. Thanky for being a friend!
 More after the jump:

Just like it looks, this one is for Pops.

Now we start veering into a Japanese-English hybrid world."Tomodachi" means "friend." So this is for your buddy

"Ganbatte" is a common Japanese phrase meaning "Go for it!" or "Do your best!" So this is an encouragement Pocky.

Another common phrase is "yoroshiku onegaishimasu," which means a lot of things but can be summed up as "Let's maintain our relationship." "Yoro" was taken from the phrase and Pockified to become Yorocky.

Here things get deeper, and we need to peek at the subtitle. It says "義理チョコ です." (Giri choco desu.) That means "This is obligation chocolate." Diving into the weeds, this is related to holidays like White Day, when a woman gives gifts (like chocolate) to her partner. Whether or not a woman has a SO, she might also give presents to colleagues. This is called "giri chocolate." So here Pocky has packaged the concept in a convenient 140 yen box. Tacky? Funny? I dunno. Let's go with funny.

The subtitle here is "おかえしです." (O kaeshi desu.) This means "This is a return." The implication here may have to do with giving someone a gift because he or she had given you something previously. To be honest, I find the practice of reciprocal gift giving to be far more common in Chinese than in Japanese culture. In Japan, in my experience, it's more likely that someone will receive a gift, say thanks, and that will be that. Having said that, in more formal situations or in an office, there may be a somewhat heightened sense of obligation to reciprocate.

And now the one which started it all - le nom de Pocky which made me say "Whaaaaa?" But it actually isn't what it looks like. It's a play on "suki" meaning "to like." So according to the subtitle, you give this to someone you really like. The extra "k" doesn't give off that vibe so much, but I'm guessing this is a limited release in Japan, and they weren't that concerned with the Engrish implications. Or maybe the execs at Glico are evil geniuses. And that wouldn't surprise me either. It's a pretty cool company.
So what's this all about? Is it Glico's answer to Necco's conversation hearts? Is it a Valentine's Day marketing campaign? To quote Ozzy, "Don't ask me. I don't know!" It's fun, and Pocky is tasty. That I know. And knowing is half the Battecky.


Pigumon said...

These have been such a trip, and great gifts.

I'm especially happy you listed Gambatte as Go for it or do your best rather than the typical "good luck", it really makes a difference!

andy b said...

Thanks man. Some phrases are tough to translate. I'm no Japanese wordsmith, but that's a phrase one hears constantly.

Wow and what a Pigmonian coincidence. I'm putting together an article on the new JR x Ultraman stamp rally, and the one kaiju closeup (from the stamp book) that I photographed is Pigmon! (I hope you're OK with the spelling of "Pigmon." I know it's pronounced "Pigumon," but I usually see it spelled without the "u." ^_^ )

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...