What is it with chocolate wafer sticks? Maybe it’s the straw-like hollowness (try using it to sip on a glass of milk), its cigar-like appearance (we may or may not have pretended to smoke it, as kids), the striped design (stick one into any crappy bowl of ice cream and it instantly becomes more presentable), or the fun of sharing a tub with friends. Essentially made up of wafers wrapped into a thin roll and filled with chocolate, this snack genre is an especially popular one in these parts—from the days of our childhood, and to this day. It’s a simple treat, but one we keep coming back to, thanks to its great way of balancing decadence and crunch.
With multiple brands in the local supermarket, which one should you go for?
The most popular of the bunch, Stick-O’s tanner hue hint at their toasty-tasting wafers that carry hints of caramelized sugar (a taster compares it to sugar cones). Notably, the wafer surrounding each stick comes in about 2-3 layers, making for an ultra-crunchy, satisfying bite similar to good barquillos. We can’t help but wish for a better filling though, because what you get inside tastes more oily than chocolate-y, bringing to mind those individually-wrapped Choki Choki sticks sold at many a sari-sari store, and feels almost dried-out that it feels powdery in the mouth.
Superstix could very well be the anti-Stik-O, taking the said brand’s proportion of wafer to filling but putting it in reverse. Its wafer feels far lighter, coming in just a single, thin layer that borders on being stale (rather than crisp and delicate) and tastes a tad bland. Still, the weaker wafer allows the filling, which tastes stronger and more bitter (one of our members points out a strong coffee note) to come through better.
Tigerstix succeeds where Superstix fails, providing a much better crunch (though still less so than Stik-O’s) that provides a balanced bite texture-wise. Its filling is also on the deep and dark side, just a tad less coffee-like as Superstix—the flavor especially reminds us of Goya milk chocolate which, though not the best, does the job pretty well.
Choyo choyo is similar to Tigerstix in many ways, but has a more delicate, flaky wafer that tastes far less sweet than the others, prompting one of our team members to compare it to communion wafers (a.k.a. ostiya). Its filling maintains a runnier texture and tastes just slightly milkier than the previous brands—we’re reminded of Flat Tops—which is just the right companion to the relatively neutral wafers.
Champola presents sticks that are shorter, but of around the same diameter as the others on the list. Though its wafer only comes in one layer, it feels puffy and is slightly thick (making each bite feel light yet crisp) and carries a sugar cone-like sweetness. But it’s similar to Stikko in that we can’t help but wish for more of the filling—aside from there not being enough of it, it also tastes too straightforwardly sweet with barely any chocolate flavor.
Nissin Stick Wafer
Nissin’s comes packed not in tubs, but in individual packs of five. Each stick is thinner and more narrow than the others which, combined with the especially crisp wafer, makes it feel satisfying to munch on. The filling carries a distinct flavor we can best describe as fruity (specifically, raisin-y), which polarized tasters but is personally loved by the author. Nissin’s also might have the best ratio of wafer to filling—both components are able to complement one another while making their own respective impact.
Wafu is just in a completely different league, coming as individually-wrapped wafer sticks that are taller and fatter than the rest on the list. You get a remarkably delicate wafer which comes in multiple layers, and it immediately shatters into multiple light-as-air flakes at the barest tap of the teeth. The filling, though still of the compound chocolate sort (not at all surprising for snacks of this price range), still has a better cacao-y depth compared to the others on the list. And though relatively indulgent compared to the other contenders (we’d put this in ‘dessert’, rather than snack, category), Wafu still provides a balanced bite.
Across the board, we found varying levels of chocolate flavor, filling-to-wafer ratio, and overall crunch. For a most satisfying bite, go for Stik-O’s ultra crunchy sticks or (though to a slightly lower extent) Nissin’s thin but crisp wafers; for something more delicate (though equally good in its own right), Champola or Oishi Wafu is your best bet. We found Superstix, Tigerstix, and Nissin to carry the deepest chocolate-y flavors, though to varying extent and detail—but we still appreciate the milkiness that comes from Choyo Choyo. Superstix and Nissin have comparatively higher ratios of filling to wafer, though the latter succeeds at a better balance of the two with its crisp wafer. Choyo Choyo and Tigerstix, though not necessarily stellar in any one category, both provide good, reliable sticks with just the ratios of filling to wafer that we can’t get enough of. Finally, Wafu, though different—we’d call it the wafer stick for grown-ups—makes for one surprisingly wonderful treat for its price. All in all, there’s a wide variety of profiles to choose from—and a wafer stick for everyone.