By Jethro Wegener
There’s no argument that the Japanese are crazy about chocolates, and KitKats. There are over 200 different flavours of KitKat in Japan, from the tasty (green tea, crème brulee) to the weird (soy sauce, apple vinegar).
The similarity of the name KitKat to the phrase kitto katsu (you will surely win), means that the bar has been bought as a good luck gift for years, especially for students sitting for exams.
Most of you Japan lovers would be familiar with special edition KitKat flavours – strawberry, sake, watermelon, Hokkaido butter, you name it.
If you’re a true food/souvenir hunter, then you’d no doubt want to head to Kit Kat Chocolatory shops in Tokyo (the Seibu Ikebukuro, Daimaru Tokyo and Shinjuku Takashimaya stores). The world’s first KitKat specialty store opened in Seibu last month, and some of the original flavours include Sublime Bitter, Chilli, and an “oh-en (support)” edition especially made to wish exam students good luck.
You might have to queue and arm wrestle for the limited edition stuff, but here are some of 2016’s flavours:
If you love chocolate and nihonshu (sake), then you might want to grab the latest offering – released Feb 1 this year – which gives the aroma of Japan’s national drink. Sake powder is kneaded into white-chocolate-encased wafers, giving it a refreshing aftertaste. The 3-pack boxes (150 yen) are available at convenient stores, and the 9-piece designer box (700 yen) will only be available at souvenir stores.
KitKat Chocolatory Moleson
The first ever KitKat with toppings on it, the range of Moleson chocolates consist of chocolate discs decorated with nuts and dried fruits; and all the toppings are placed on each KitKat bar by hand! Launched on Feb 5 this year, it costs 500 yen at Kit Kat Chocolatory shops.
KitKats & Japan
Nestlé’s KitKat is eaten worldwide, created about 80 years ago but was only introduced to Japan in 1973. It rapidly gained popularity – today, over 700 fingers of the stuff are eaten worldwide every second. That amounts to 22 billion a year, consumed by people in over 100 different countries.
Ironically, the Japanese love of this delectable confectionary is only a recent trend. Chocolate didn’t start to become a luxury to the Japanese until after WWII. G.I.s would throw out bars to groups of local children, so much so that the first English phrase learned by many of them was ‘Give me chocolate!’.