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Japan is literally Kit Kat country - Kit Kat is one of Japan’s best selling and most loved chocolate bars. Since its introduction almost 50 years ago, over the years Japan has released over 400 different flavors. Ranging from the standard Western flavors like milk, white, coffee chocolate to the more unusual flavors like pudding, melon and cheese cake to the absolutely wildly bizarre flavors like wasabi, sweet potato and azuki (red bean) sandwich.
So, how did the humble wafer covered chocolate bar rise to popularity and become one of Japan’s most well-known candies and become a global symbol of modern day Japanese culture? Before we take a deep dive into Japan's love affair with the chocolate wafer, let's have a look at the history of Kit Kat.
In 1935 the “Chocolate Crisp” was released in England by Rowntree. Born from the idea of creating an affordable chocolate bar that would fit inside a workers lunch box. By using wafers as the center rather than being solid chocolate helped to keep the costs low, and thus started the popularity of the wafer bar. However, it took 38 years for the product to reach Japan. In 1973 Kit Kat created a partnership with the Japanese Confectionary company, Fujiya which began the long Kit Kat loving relationship. So who exactly makes Kit Kat now? Well, In 1988 Kit Kat was acquired by Nestle and now Kit Kat is globally produced and made by Nestle, except in the United States where it is made under Reese Candy Company - a division under the Hershey Company.
Although arriving in Japan in the early 70’s it took a bit of time for Kit Kat to really become popular. In reality it took about 3 decades for Kit Kat to shoot to the popularity it is now! Kit Kat tapped into the culture of omiyage (おみやげ) in Japan and released an exclusive strawberry flavor Kit Kat only in Hokkaido in the early 2000’s. Omiyage or ‘souvenir' in English, is the tradition of bringing back local foods as a gift to coworkers, family and friends after a trip. This omiyage idea was so successful for Kit Kat that it created a wave effect and spread across Japan which began the creation of more limited edition and localized flavor varieties. Like the Kyoto Uji Matcha, Nagano Shinshu Apple, Hiroshima Momiji Manju and Hokkaido Azuki & Strawberry.
Kit Kat or the affectedly cute name in Japanese kitto katto (キットカット) rose in popularity for another serendipitous reason. The Japanese phrase ‘kitto katsu’ is used as a good luck phrase translated to ‘you will surely win’ which is a common saying said to students who are about to take their exams. Kit Kat noticed a trend in the early 2000’s that every January there was a surge in sales. Kit Kat was able to link that the chocolate wafers were bought as a good luck gift for the students. After a bit of research Kitkat realized that it actually wasn’t just hopeful parents wishing their kids good luck, but actually students themselves buying Kit Kats as a reminder to do their best in their upcoming exams too!
Japan is widely known for making absolutely any flavor you can think of into a Kit Kat bar - wasabi Kit Kat anyone? Although over time the amount of Kit Kat flavors on the shelf changes, we estimate that there are about 40 different Japanese Kit Kat flavors available at any given time. With every seasonal change, holiday or absolutely any minor milestone there is a new flavor released in celebration. And we are here for it! There is nothing more exciting than seeing a new Kitkat flavor pop up online. Especially if it is a super seasonal flavor like the wasabi flavor and Matcha Latte.
Image: Sugoi Mart
So what are the Japanese Kit Kat flavors? Well, in Japan there are absolute classics like the classic Green tea Kit Kat (Kit Kat Matcha), white chocolate and the Kit Kat Strawberry flavor. Now you either love it or love it, the Kit Kat Strawberry flavors are oishii! (おいしい - delicious). When you think of candy flavors there are the three main flavor trios, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. So, of course Kit Kat does not only have 1, or 2, or even 3 different types of strawberry flavor, but often up to 5 different types. If you want to buy Japanese Kit Kat flavors take a stroll down the candy and chocolate isle of Japanese kombinis (コンビニ) and supermarkets. You will often see the original wafer Kit Kat flavor, the newest season released flavor and a version of the classic strawberry flavor. But if you’re not in Japan, you can buy all five different flavors of Kit Kat strawberry or almost every other Kit Kat flavor on Sugoi Mart. So whether you want the classic strawberry or a hybrid of Yokohama strawberry Cheese Cake flavor, Sugoi Mart has it covered!
Image: Sugoi Mart
There is such a huge variety of Kit Kat that it is sometimes overwhelming with all of the choice. But luckily there is the Kit Kat Variety Pack by Sugoi Mart that really is a no brainer if you want to try a ton of exclusive flavors! You can try 20 different Japanese Kit Kat flavors, all in one convenient pack - kinda like a Japanese Kit Kat flavors guide. The pack contains 60… YES! 60 different individual pieces of Japan Kit Kats in total. Flavors like Summer Kit Kat Ice Cream, Whole Grain Biscuit, Chocolate Orange and so so much more! However, if you want a little bit more control on what Kit Kat flavors you want to try, the Kit Kat Special Package Gift Box is the one for you! The gift box contains 80 pieces of Kit Kats of 11 flavors, like the Rich Matcha Kit Kat and Ume/Japanese Plum Kitkat.
Kit Kats started as a simple bar, but over the years it has evolved into a lot of different forms. Like Kit Kat bags, which is the classic pack that you can buy everywhere in Japan and on Sugoi Mart. The Souvenir boxes which is your omiyage from a place that you have been, or to be honest a taste of a place that you want to go to.
And the last form is the Chocolatory, an exclusive couture Kit Kat.The KitKat Chocolatory is a specialty store that opened in collaboration with the Japanese chocolatier Yasumasa Takagi. Working together to create unique and sublime Kit Kat flavors that you can't find in any Japanese supermarkets or convenience stores. Although these Kit Kats are special editions, they are similar to the classic Kit Kats in one way, and that is the sheer quantity available. The Kit Kat Chocolatory makes a huge variety of flavors that will surely tantalize your taste buds. And the best way to be able to try these flavors? Sugoi Marts Kit Kat Chocolatory Mini Assortment! You can get flavors like Ruby, Bitter and classic Milk.
Image: Adobe Stock
Kit Kat is such a joy to eat, the variety of flavors have really made it a stand out chocolate bar. If you're curious about the calories in Kit Kat bars they often vary per 100g, but for the standard Kit Kat bar Wafer Bar there are 518 calories, and for the Green tea kit kat (Kit Kat Matcha) there are 560 calories.
Be a part of Kit Kat country by going to Sugoi Mart to find your perfect taste of Japan. With Kit Kat Variety Packs, Gift Boxes, Kit Kat Chocolatory or even the Kit Kat Mystery Flavor you can have almost every exclusive Japanese Kit Kat delivered to your door!
Image: Adobe Stock