Nutella & Go won the Most Innovative New Product Award in the sweet snacks category at this year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo. It was a plastic tub with biscuit sticks and a little dipping well of Nutella.
Sounds/looks familiar? That’s because Meiji‘s Yan Yan has been making basically the same product for at least a decade. I remember eating them while growing up.
While Meiji was handing out Yan Yan’s at the Expo, no one handed them any awards. I’d say this is an instance of Europeans taking credit (or at least acclaim) for something Asian people invented years ago.
Clearly this calls for a head-to-head comparison. While Yan Yan comes in an assortment of flavors in both dipping cream and biscuit stick, I’m using their creamy choco-hazelnut dip for maximum similarity to Nutella & Go.
Both the Yan Yan and Nutella & Go were free samples from Sweets and Snacks. The former was given to me by Meiji’s US distributor for the purposes of this head-to-head review, while the latter was freely left out for all takers by Ferrero.
Both products were quite similar in packaging design with a little well separating the dipping medium from the dipping sticks. Yan Yan came in a trapezoidal tube (the top circle was slightly bigger than the bottom; is there a fancy math term for this shape?) while Nutella & Go was in a half circle tube with a trompe l’oeil Nutella jar look.
Let’s start with the dipping sticks. The Yan Yan biscuits were longer and a lightly toasty golden brown. They tasted slightly sweet with a tinge of butteriness to the finish.
The Nutella & Go sticks, on the other hand, were shorter, with the pale, alabaster hue of Dita Von Teese‘s skin. They were airier, like a crunchy restaurant breadstick. The flavor reminded me of the wheaty blandness of a saltless saltine.
Yan Yan definitely came out ahead on the dipping stick front. Let’s move on to the dips!
Yan Yan’s “smooth creme” had the texture of whipped frosting. When I dipped and then pulled out the stick, little holes were left in the cream. The flavor was that of malty chocolate with a light tinge of nuttiness.
The Nutella portion of the Nutella & Go was, as far as I could tell, the same as standard Nutella. It was much more flowy. When I pulled the sticks out of the Nutella, it clung to the sticks with a long pull, and the Nutella left in the well settled to fill in the holes.
Though it had a viscous flow in the well and on the stick, the Nutella felt thick, sticky, and pasty in my mouth. The hazelnuttiness was much stronger here, with a great nutty intensity that matched its chocolatey-ness.
I’m going to call it a draw on the dips. Though they’re supposed to be similar, they’re actually quite different in flavor and texture. I liked the Yan Yan version for its malty notes, but I also enjoyed Nutella for the nuttiness. And because its Nutella!
In the end, Yan Yan wins out for its tasty biscuit sticks. Nutella & Go’s sticks were not very good and didn’t add anything to the product. I’d stick with just getting Nutella in a jar. An OM for the Yan Yan and an O for Nutella & Go.