$1.35 at No Frills
Country of origin: Japan
What is it: Launched in 1979 by pharmaceutical company Meiji Seika, these dog kibble-sized biscuits have two things going for them: They’re filled with either chocolate, strawberry or “milk cream,” and the light-weight, hollow shortbread capsules are adorned with cartoon pandas participating in a variety of sporting activities such as archery, fencing, canoeing, soccer, tennis, golf and skateboarding. Sadly there were no depictions of breakdancing or Crossfit to be found. The bad news is that the actual cartoons printed on the cookies’ baked exterior are so faded they look like a cross between prison tattoos of Calvin and Hobbes and a homemade birthday card created on a dot-matrix printer.
Verdict: Poor visuals aside (although a co-worker did comment, “People are supposed to eat these things?”), Hello Panda is not exactly packed with flavour. The faint cookie-ness quickly gives way to notes of dust and cardboard, similar to how gum from packs of hockey cards immediately lose its flavour leaving a bland, papery aftertaste. Or maybe that’s how athletic pandas are supposed to taste.