Did you know in Japanese the phrase “Kitto Katsu” means “You will surely win”? Doesn’t this phrase sound similar to KitKat, or Kitto-Katto (the Japanese pronunciation)? These coincidental phrasings are often credited to the extensive success KitKats/ Nestlé has found in Japan. Often correlated to good luck charms among students, many buy them as good luck snacks before taking exams.
So naturally, with the help of marketing and advertising efforts, Japan has created over 200 flavours of KitKats. We went to Don Quijote in search of just a small fraction of the flavours.
KitKats We’ve Tried
Strawberry Cheesecake (Summer Limited Edition)
This kind of feels like a cheat. When you bite into it, the only thing you can taste is the strawberry and none of the cheesecake. Honestly, it’s more of a white chocolate strawberry KitKat than anything. However, it still tastes nice and is very sweet.
Peach Mint (Limited Edition)
Here’s a bit of a backstory and disclaimer: both of us hate mint. Mint itself, mint chocolate, mint ice cream. I mean, who actually enjoys eating toothpaste as dessert? This peach mint flavour is actually part of the “Adult Sweetness” series due to having a less sweet taste as well as rum powder inside the cream between the wafers. Fun fact, Nestle actually was creating this flavour to appeal to those who hate mint and think it tastes like toothpaste (AKA us). I must say, this tastes immensely better than your normal mint chocolates- you know, like those disgusting Andes Chocolate Mints. This strategy still doesn’t convince Jioh. It has quite a strong mint smell floods the mouth and throat with the sensation of mint after finishing it. Although I like it better than other brands of mint chocos, I’m still not converted. I was mainly excited because I love peach flavours, but couldn’t taste any of it in the KitKat. It only tasted like sugar, peppermint, and white chocolate mixed together.
If you happen to be in Japan now (Summer 2019), get it now because it’s a summer limited edition!
Cookie and Cream (Summer Limited Edition)
This KitKat flavour is also a summer limited edition, so grab one while you can. It’s not just cookies and cream flavoured- it’s ice cream cookies and cream, hence the snowflakes you see on the packaging. I don’t know if that makes any difference, but we’ll see. My (Lena) favourite ice cream flavours are actually cookies n’ cream and cookie dough, so this one I’m very excited about. Compared to the previous two KitKats we’ve tried, this one’s “visuals” are quite disappointing- but I mean, what else can you expect for cookies and cream? Kind of reminds me of dalmatians. It tastes exactly like cookies and cream (duh!), and honestly, I’m living for it. The description might sound boring, but it’s just what it is. But come one, making an ice cream flavour into a chocolate form is no small task!
Another (better) backstory for this KitKat! This flavour was actually a collaboration between Nestle Japan and the Kumamoto Prefecture using their famous mascot, Kumamon, a black bear with rosy cheeks. The reason for the partnership is because of a 2016 natural disaster in Kumamoto: a series of earthquakes damaged the regions 400-year-old castle and displaced many local residents. Nestle Japan stepped in and created this KitKat to help raise funds to rebuild the prefecture. Ikinari Dango is Kumamoto’s most famous sweet snack, which is a sweet bun filled with red bean paste and sweet potato then covered in a rice wrapper to be steamed.
It was also reported in 2016 that it would take around 20 years and 60 billion yen to fully restore the Kumamoto Castle, so buying this KitKat is one way for people to help donate money. If you’re going to visit the castle sometime in the near future, for Japan’s Rugby World Cup, or Tokyo Olympics, parts of the castle will be available to the public.
Matcha – Powers of Green Tea
Matcha is so popular in Japan that Nestle (owner of KitKat) created various levels of matcha KitKat flavours. This one in particular that we tried has quite a strong bitter aftertaste. It is also marketed as a Polyphenol and Lutein product – which are both derived from green tea. These two things carry health benefits and are often credited to antioxidant and antibacterial effects. There are many studies that lutein plays a role in age-related eye diseases. If you are a “true” matcha fan, this will probably float your boat: it’s quite bitter and strong in matcha taste/smell.
KitKats We’ve Found
Nuts & Cranberry Yogurt Flavour (Summer Limited Edition)
This is another Summer 2019 KitKat edition. The KitKat is coated in white chocolate with a slightly tangy yoghurt taste. Dried cranberries are topped along with a cranberry cream between the wafers. It’s quite aesthetically pleasing to see the contrast between white and red on the snack.
Cranberry & Almond
The Cranberry & Almond flavour is also part of the “KitKat Everyday Luxury” series like the aforementioned nuts & cranberry yoghurt edition. Instead of white chocolate, the wafer is covered in dark chocolate and topped with toasted almonds and cranberry bits. According to several online reviews and my limited experience, many people claim to name this among their top favourite KitKat flavours.
This is one of the more “boring” flavours out of all the one’s we’ve seen, but there’s no denying it tastes good. The tartness of the berry balances the sweetness of the white chocolate.
This is the’ Otona No Amasa’ KitKat. This literally means “sweetness for adults”. As you probably guessed, it is dark chocolate, making it less sweet than the regular KitKat. Unfortunately, there’s no booze it, so the “only for adults” is entirely due to the bitter flavor when eating it.
Japanese Sake & Ume Sake (Local Prodcuts)
These two flavours are more part of the “premium” KitKats flavours are a bit more expensive with fewer products. Nestle collaborated with Hidetoshi Nakata, a famous Japanese football (or soccer, if you’re American- no fights, please) player. Why a football player? Nakata has an immense passion for Japanese sake. So much in fact, that he created his own brand “N”. It seems he has made it his mission to help those around the world to learn and appreciate sake. The Japanese KitKat contained 0.4% alcohol, which is less than 1%, but you should still take precautions in feeding to children. But what is sake? Sake is a popular Japanese alcoholic drink made out of fermented rice.
In creating the Ume Sake flavour, Nestle partnered with both Nakata and Heiwa Shuzou, a Wakayama-based sake maker. Wakayama, in particular, is famous for its fine fruit and Nestle Japan made the choice of using their local Nanko plums for the KitKat. Plum wine is also a beloved drink in Japan and is normally made out of shochu. Instead, this flavour replaced shochu with a sake base, creating Ume-Sake.
Rum Raisin / Wasabi / Purple Sweet Potato (Local Products)
Rum Raisin: Hmm, another unheard of flavour! I’ve actually tried this year and wasn’t a big fan. The KitKat had no raisins in it and all you can see is the white chocolate coating. I remember it smelling really sweet intertwined with rum. Although I could taste the kick of the rum (yuck!), the raisin has a more overpowering taste. I don’t think I would ever buy this flavour ever again in my humble opinion.
Wasabi: Here’s a great idea- unwrap these KitKats and put them in a plate and serve them to your friend, saying they’re matcha KitKats! Hopefully, the smell doesn’t give it away. These wasabi chocolates aren’t actually as bad as you’d think it would be. There’s not much kick or spiciness vs when eating it with sushi, and is more sweet with a faint taste of some kind of grassy component. Not potent at all! This KitKat is a regional flavor, dedicated to the Shizuoka Prefecture. Shizuoka is wasabi’s birthplace and here, you can find wasabi ice cream.
Purple Sweet Potato: Also a local flavor, this Kit Kat is a specialty of the Okinawa region. Purple sweet potatoes are native to the Okinawa islands. It tasted quite good and is quite sweet.
Mint Yogurt / Hokkaido Azuki & Strawberry (Local Products)
Mint Yoghurt: The Mint Yogurt is actually a limited edition exclusive to Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan selling products ranging from snacks to laundry detergent. According to different reviewers, the mint is just a whisper. You can taste a bit of the sourness coming from the yogurt, mixed with a light mint and white chocolate.
Hokkaido Azuki & Strawberry: Over 80% of red beans in Japan are produced in Hokkaido. In Japan, Ichigo daifuku are common street food (we found a store in Asakusa). Daifuku is a popular Japanese sweet made of mochi with Anko (sweet bean paste) paste inside. Ichigo means strawberry, so it is often to find the combinations of Ichigo and daifuku together as one sweet snack.
This blog post was written by Jioh and Lena, Seibo Japan/Mobal Japan’s interns from South Korea and Texas.