I was talking to a couple of Lexis Japan students the other day, and they shared with me their mission for their time in Japan…..to try each and every flavour of Kitkat. This is no simple task! Did you know about the Japanese KitKat obsession?
The KitKat is one of the most popular chocolate brands in the world, but in Japan, it has become an icon. The Japanese love for KitKats is not only limited to the original chocolate wafer bar, but also to the wide range of flavors that are exclusive to Japan. Ready for a deep dive into this uniquely Japanese obsession?
The KitKat first arrived in Japan in 1973, and since then, the brand has become a staple in the country. In 2000, Nestlé Japan, the manufacturer of KitKat, decided to release limited edition flavors, and since then, the number of flavors has continued to grow. Today, there are over 300 flavors available in Japan, with new ones being introduced regularly.
One of the reasons behind the popularity of KitKat in Japan is the cultural significance attached to the brand. KitKat is often given as a gift to students before exams, as “Kitto Katsu,” which translates to “You will surely win,” is a popular expression in Japan. In addition, the chocolate snack is also associated with good luck, making it a popular gift for various occasions, such as weddings and new year celebrations.
Some of the most popular flavors to be found in Japan include matcha (green tea), strawberry, and sake. Matcha is and all time favourite, with the company boasting that it is made from high-quality green tea leaves. The matcha type has a delicate balance of sweetness and bitterness, and the green tea flavor is evident in every bite.
Strawberry is another popular flavor, and it is especially loved by women. The flavor is made from fresh strawberries and has a natural sweetness that is not too overpowering. Sake is a more recent addition to the range of flavors, and it has quickly become one of the most sought-after types. The KitKat is made with real sake, and it has a unique taste that is not too sweet or too strong.
In addition to these popular flavors, there are also regional flavors that are exclusive to certain parts of Japan. For example, the purple sweet potato flavor is only available in the Okinawa region, while the black soybean flavor is only available in Hokkaido. These regional flavors are highly sought after by KitKat fans (people fly between regions just to sample new Kitkat types!), as they provide a unique taste experience. As I said, it’s something of an obsession!
There are also seasonal flavors that are only available for a limited time. For example, the pumpkin pudding flavor is only available during the autumn months, while the cherry blossom flavor is only available in the spring. These seasonal flavors add an extra layer of excitement for KitKat fans, as they provide an opportunity to try something new and different. There are literally KitKat fan groups out there, with discussion boards filled with excited commentary on new seasonal offerings.
The most popular Kitkat flavors in the last few years have been:
- Matcha (Green tea)
- Sweet potato
- Rum raisin
- Azure (Blue) Matcha
- Hokkaido Melon
- Sakura (Cherry blossom)
- Purple Sweet Potato
- Black Soybean
- Shinshu Apple
Some of the…well, less conventional flavours I’ve discovered over the years include:
- Soy sauce
- Grilled Corn
- Baked Potato
- Miso Soup
- Sweet Red Bean
- Rice Cracker
- Roasted Tea
- Apple Vinegar
Set yourself the challenge of trying as many you can while you’re studying at Lexis (make sure you report in)! Good luck!!
If you feel that you’d like to learn more about the Japanese take on the Kitkat, check out this Financial Times article – https://www.ft.com/content/7ec44105-c123-4dc8-a262-e5747eae1e1a . Can’t get enough of Japanese snacks? Take a moment to read our blog on the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum – www.lexisjapan.com/instant-ramen-momofuku-ando