I have mentioned my buddy Rob in this blog more than once, as Rob has been my traveling companion to Mayberry Days for the past four years. Rob and his lovely wife, Julie, lived in Japan for over a year early in their marriage when their two boys were still young. They gifted the boys and their spouses with a return trip to Japan for Christmas. I was lucky enough to receive quite a collection of Japanese Kit Kat bars upon their return.
You may be wondering, “Kit Kat bars?” Actually, uniquely-flavored Kit Kats are quite the thing in Japan. As in more than 300 available flavors! Not all the flavors are all always available since many are limited editions, but my understanding is that 200 or so are permanent flavors. Rob and Julie brought me back quite an assortment.
Nestlé began introducing the new flavors in Japan beginning in 2000 with the idea initially being to appeal to young buyers. The bars are sometimes designated as connected to particular cities and are often bought as gifts to wish someone good luck. This custom arose because “Kit Kat” is similar to the Japanese phrase “Kitto Katsu” which means “surely win” as in “you shall surely win.”
Nestlé has also introduced five flavors in the U.K. in addition to the regular milk chocolate candy bar: Kit Kat Orange, Kit Kat Dark, Kit Kat Mint, Kit Kat White, and Kit Kat Cookies & Cream.
First, at least some of these are also available now in the United States. I have had Kit Kat Dark before, which is the same as the regular candy bar but covered in dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. I am also fairly sure I have seen Kit Kats covered in white chocolate as well. I have read that two other new flavors were introduced in just the last few weeks though I have yet to see them: Lemon Crisp and Raspberry Creme.
Kit Kat has recently introduced at least a couple of other new flavors here in the United States. Around Christmas, I bought a bag of Sweet Cinnamon Kit Kats. They were only available in miniature-size bars individually wrapped but were quite good.
Kit Kats are also available in full-size bars called Mint + Dark Chocolate (though I have only been able to find them in packs with two full bars per package).
Here, the mint créme favor is in the top layer as is obvious from looking at the candy. Again, these are also quite tasty. Think of it as a giant Andes chocolate with a wafer interior. My assumption is these are the same as the Kit Kat Mint sold in the U.K.
Since Rob and I are also both bourbon aficionados, it seems appropriate that the first Japanese flavor I will feature is Sake. The Japanese alcohol sake is made from the fermentation of rice. I have actually never had it but the candy bar unquestionably had a distinct alcohol taste.
Sake itself is not nearly as high in alcohol content as American whiskeys but I was surprised to learn that these Kit Kat bars actually have a slight alcohol content. Most foods or candies made with alcoholic beverages have zero alcohol in the finished product as the alcohol burns off. Here, the sake is blended with white chocolate, resulting in candy with 0.8% alcohol content. Granted, that is just one and a half proof, but the candy is actually not recommended for minors or for those with low alcohol tolerance.