Lonely Planet Writer

Sweet Travel: savouring the world one treat at a time

Pocky, Japan's favourite sweet treat
Pocky, Japan's favourite sweet treat

One of my small pleasures while travelling is trying the local confectionary. Each treat is like a window (or tooth cavity) into the local culture.

For years after watching the first Die Hard movie I wanted to know what a Twinkie tasted like – the only cop who believes in John McClane in the film is a Twinkie maniac. I vividly remember the Californian gas station where I finally bought one. In an overdose of tasteless Americana, I devoured it as the car cruised through the night towards L.A. But I was more the wiser about the American taste bud than after my first Budweiser.

Of course there are treats that are more indicative of culture, such as donuts and chocolate chip cookies (US) or lamingtons (Australia), but these vary in quality and recipe, and as a consequence can be more divisive than uniting. What I'm usually after when I travel are those archetypal branded treats that everyone eats - the treats that bring a nation together. For instance, I recently read an article about the national treat of South Korea, the Choco Pie, corrupting the North Koreans.

In Australia it's Tim Tam biscuits. In the States, Oreos. I’m told that McVitie's Digestives rule Scotland (or did) and Jaffa Cakes are as English as crumpets, while Pocky has an imperial standing in Japan.

So here's my question: What are some of the other national treats of the world? What sugary treats have you shared with locals? Let's hear it. Just add your comments below.