Japan Has a Kit Kat for Every Taste, and Then Some
The Asahi Shimbun By Russell Goldman/ © 2016 The New York Times May 15, 2016 at 11:33 JST
This is pretty much all anyone needs to know about the popularity of Kit Kat in Japan: There are nearly 300 varieties.
In addition to the (dare we call them) classics, like wasabi and purple sweet potato, new flavors are regularly introduced. In February, Nestlé, which distributes the candy in Japan, released a sake flavor in time for Valentine’s Day.
For a few weeks in December, shops sold a single stick, not the classic duo, covered in dark chocolate and coated with gold leaf for 2,016 yen, or about $16.
Even for a country where shoppers can find fish-ball-flavored Pringles and adzuki bean-flavored Pepsi, actual gold candy seems extreme, but the Kit Kat holds a special place in Japan’s culinary universe.
Kit Kat’s name echoes the Japanese phrase “kitto katsu,” or “surely win” and is often sent as a gift to students before college entrance exams. It is the country’s most popular candy, according to Nestlé, which does not release sales figures.
Kit Kat is so popular that it is sold at high-end department stores, Kit Kat-only specialty shops and even post offices, and it is so ingrained in the nation’s snack culture that nearly every region has a signature flavor sold only in that part of the country.
As a result a hungry traveler could eat scores of different flavors of Kit Kat. Here is but a sample of recently available flavors:
Adzuki Bean; Apple; Blueberry; Butter; Cheesecake; Chili; Coconut; Edamame; Green Tea; Green Tea (Sakura); Green Tea (Uji); Hazelnut; Kobe Pudding; Matcha; Miso; Passion Fruit; Pear; Perfect Balance Citrus (orange, lemon, lime); Plum; Purple Sweet Potato; Roasted Tea; Rum Raisin; Strawberry; Strawberry Maple; Wasabi
Just for the record, I've eaten the green tea and strawberry varieties. My verdict is "Yum!"