About ten years ago, I was somewhat obsessed with Pocky. I was on a cross-country trip with my wife (then my girlfriend) to the west coast, and in Vancouver, BC, we found a Pocky shop that had nothing but Pocky. There were the chocolate ones, and strawberry, and milk, and “men’s” (dark chocolate) along with bizarre flavors I haven’t seen before or since. Mango Pocky, durian Pocky, peppermint Pocky, some meat varieties, horseradish Pocky, and even things I didn’t know were flavors, like shoe Pocky. And outer space Pocky. I didn’t buy it or taste it. Who knows.

It occurred to us, driving around Vancouver, eating Pocky, that the address on the box said the Pocky factory was right there in Vancouver. So we took it upon ourselves to go see where the Pocky was made. It took us a couple of hours to get to the factory, a low, nondescript building in a mixed-use neighborhood.

Inside the lobby of the factory sat an old man, easily over 70, who did not speak English as a first language. I asked if we could have a tour, and he said “No.” He was confused, so I showed him some of the Pocky we’d bought, and said, “We’re from Ohio, we really love Pocky, I thought we could see the factory.” This seemed to make him sad. Existentially sad.

He stared at us, the corners of his mouth pulling down as if weighted, shook his head again and said “No.” We stood there for a minute or two, not knowing what to do, and left the building. As I started the car, the old man opened the front door and watched us drive away. In my rear-view mirror, I watched him climb into a Japanese-style minivan (the license plate said POCKY), and he followed us out of the neighborhood.

It was my fault for assuming the Pocky factory was like a brewery or the M&M factory, but then again, we didn’t have the internet on our cell phones, or cell phones at all, and we were high as fuck on Japanese glucose sticks.

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Contact drew at drew@toothpastefordinner.com or tweet him @TWTFSale.