Let’s Talk About Japan’s Wild KitKat Industry

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Let’s Talk About Japan’s Wild Kit Kat Industry

Ever since the late 1980s, we’ve been singing the popular jingle, “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.” While Kit Kat is a popular snack in the U.S., in Japan it is practically an obsession. The candy bar first went on sale in Japan in 1973 and its fame continues to surge. Its popularity is likely helped by the fact that “Kitto Katto,” the Japanese transliteration sounds close enough to a lucky Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu.” This little lucky charm usually has at least 30 flavors in production at any given time but has produced hundreds of flavors since the early 2000s. In 2017, Nestle, which produces Kit Kat in Japan, had to open an all-new factory—its first new one in Japan in 26 years—to keep up with demand. If you’re ready to break off a little piece of Japanese good luck, below are a few suggestions to get you started.

Curious about what it’s like to sink your teeth into a now-classic Japanese good luck charm? I hit up Yami for some of the most popular Kit Kat flavors currently in Japan to find out.

Strawberry Milk & Pistachio

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Do you remember having pink Nesquik when you were a kid? That lightly berry flavor with a nice hit of milk? Most of us experienced that delicious flavor. When you take a bite of a Strawberry Milk Kit Kat, the first hint of flavor is very similar. It also smells identical to strawberry milk.

The cute little squirrel nibbling on a pistachio nut on the packaging is enough reason to buy the Japanese Kit Kat Pistachio Chocolate Wafer, especially if you’re planning on sharing this treat with your kids. The mild flavor is perfect for the less adventurous palate. In Japan, the pistachio flavor is a best seller. When Nestle Japan launched the annual “what taste do you want to eat next” contest on social media, the pistachio Kit Kat collected the most votes from fans around the world.

Crepe White Chocolate & Milk Tea

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Out of all the Japanese Kit Kat bars I tried, this one had to be one of the most similar to American styles — with a twist, of course. As the flavor name suggests, Crepe White Chocolate is meant to mimic the flavor of a French crepe topped with white chocolate. (French crepes, by the way, are super popular in Japan.) There is definitely a lot of similarity to a regular white chocolate Kit Kat like you’d find in stands stateside. However, there are literal bits of crepe seemingly blended into them. This gives the Kit Kat a more pastry-like flavor that’s not cloyingly sweet. It’s absolutely delicious, especially when served with a cappuccino!

Most people think of Kit Kats and think of lightly flavored, bit sized treats. Milk Tea might have cute “prep-inspired” packaging, but do not underestimate this flavor! This is actually the only Kit Kat bar flavor that was so powerfully flavored, you could actually get a whiff of the tea from outside the bag. Milk Tea Kit Kats are not for the faint of heart. This is a flavor that will kick you in the tastebuds, in a good way. It’s incredibly similar to the scent and taste of Earl Grey, with a dash of milk. The thing is, this is a shockingly herbal Kit Kat. I wasn’t expecting it. It’s an incredible tip of the hat to British tea fans everywhere.

Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Flavor Kit Kat

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Fun fact: green tea was the first “designer” Kit Kat bar to hit Japan in 2004. Nowadays, there are several iterations of it that you can choose from. To get an authentic taste of Japan, you just have to grab one of these green Kit Kats. It’s currently one of their most popular flavors. Green tea Kit Kats have an amazing earthy and herbal taste to them that tea lovers will adore. It’s surprisingly creamy, finishing off with a nice bite of chocolate that you can taste in the center. If you are a fan of green tea cake, then this Kit Kat flavor will be downright addictive.

The OG, matcha flavor was the first Kit Kat produced by Nestle Japan and it has remained a fan favorite ever since. It is also a social media superstar and has gathered legions of obsessed fans. Maybe its popularity is due, at least in part, to the matcha-green candy shell, which looks so pretty on Instagram. If you’re new to Japanese Kit Kat flavors, you should know that there are several matcha-flavored bars. The Japanese Kit Kat Matcha Chocolate Wafer is a great starter, with a mild flavor and a creamy sweet center, and very little of the dusky flavor normally attributed to matcha. If you’re looking for mucho matcha, you can also try the Japanese Kit Kat Heavy Matcha Chocolate Flavor and the Japanese Kit Kat Matcha Latte Chocolate Wafer.

Orange Chocolate & Save the Blue Ocean

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Chocolate and orange are such a natural pairing, it’s a wonder the flavor combo isn’t more popular in the U.S. Fortunately Nestle Japan produces the Japanese Kit Kat Orange Chocolate Wafer, which really highlights the zesty orange flavor. In this bar, the milk chocolate exterior serves as more of an accent and the real star is the citrus essence packed into the wafer and crème center. If you’re a fan of the dipped dried citrus you can get at specialty fruit stands, this is the candy bar for you.

For candy lovers who like to blend a little social justice with their snacking, the Japanese Kit Kat Save the Blue Ocean Flavor is the one for you. With the slogan “Give the Ocean a Break” printed right on the label, the candy bar comes with a Nestle Japan promise to donate a portion of all proceeds to help clean up the ocean. So, what exactly is Save the Blue Ocean flavor? Why sea salt, of course. The salty flavor is intense and surprising at first, but it should be a treat for lovers of savory candy like salted caramel. If you’re buying this treat to share with the family, be sure to buy extra, as each of the 12 individually wrapped bars have distinctive packaging featuring whales, turtles and other marine life and you’ll want to be sure to have enough so that everyone gets a piece with their favorite sea animal.

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