The strange phenomena of Japan’s KitKats

In a lockdown that feels never-ending, with memories of precedented times fading with each passing day, I think we are all craving the chance to once again travel and experience something different to the routine everyday. While this certainly isn’t easy, all is not lost, as we can still fill the more recent gaps in our lives with plenty of tasty nourishment from all the cultures we wish we could be exploring right now. My remedy of choice for this lockdown has been a touch of Japan in the form of everyone’s favourite chocolate wafer snack, the humble KitKat.

Over the past 20 years, more than 300 seasonal and regional flavours of KitKat have been released in Japan. That certainly puts our orange KitKats and KitKat chunkys to shame. From 2012-2014, Nestlé, the company who operate the KitKat brand in Japan, were the best selling confectionary company in Japan. So we must be missing out by not trying the many flavours they have to offer. That is why I went in search for some of the strangest, most eccentric flavours I could find, and mostly they did not disappoint.

Salted lemon

I was initially excited about this zesty lil number. I wanted it to remind me of finer summer days and it did a pretty good job. The lemon came through perfectly, when I really put my imagination to work I could convince myself that I was eating one of Grandma’s classic lemon tarts. The only problem was that the lemon definitely was not salted, so it was not as innovative or original as I had hoped. 8/10

Salted Lychee

This one made me nervous as I am not the biggest lychee fan, and it turns out the way to improve lychee is not to pair it with chocolate and wafer! I have a big sweet tooth, but even I couldn’t handle much of this flavour. Its only saving grace was that they did not cheap out on the flavouring and the lychee came through strong. So maybe if you’re a lychee enthusiast you will enjoy it more than I did. 3/10

Sakura Japanese Sake

For this one, I employed my boyfriend as a co-taster, and his eloquent summary provides the perfect review: ‘’ It tastes like flowers’’. Floral notes of rose come through, but the perfume punch does not sit well with me, although it does make for a pleasant after taste. 4/10 

Autumn Sweet Potato

As you can imagine, I had no idea what to expect from this one. I was just praying that it was more sweet than potato, but unfortunately it provided exactly what it says on the tin. I was so surprised by how much it actually tasted like a sweet potato; however, I would not recommend that this is how you get your sweet potato fix. Keeping chocolate and potato apart is a good idea for a reason. 4/10 

Red Bean Sandwich

Ermmm what? This one definitely sounded different but did not actually taste it. Red beans seem to taste just like rich cocoa powder to me, which makes sense as they are made by turning beans into a sweetened paste. Pretty good chocolatey flavours, but, again, not the new exciting flavour that I expected. 6/10

Momiji Manju

Momiji manju is a speciality in Hiroshima and is a type of steamed bun; a small cake stuffed with sweetened bean paste. This initially appealed to me more than the red bean sandwich as there was the added bonus of the cake flavours. However, in reality these flavours were overwhelming, making it taste like a biscuit flavoured KitKat. This was still tasty but could be argued to be boring. 6/10

Hokkaido Azuki and Strawberry

Azuki is another sweetened bean pasta that is grown in East Asia and the Himalayas. I was excited to try more of these unfamiliar flavours, however this bar was overwhelmed by the strawberry taste. The strawberry flavours were old school, and by that I mean they taste nothing like an actual strawberry, but we have been conditioned to recognise it as strawberry flavouring. It was very pleasant with nostalgic flavours, would definitely eat again.  7/10

Halloween Apple Pie

This final KitKat was exciting from the very start as it was a lovely lilac colour. What was particularly impressive was that it didn’t just taste like apple, it actually tasted like cooked sweet apples and flaky pastry. I definitely saved the best till last. 9/10

There are hundreds more KitKat flavours out there to be tried, so I definitely recommend trying something new. As the world slowly opens back up, we can hopefully try some new and exciting foods. Hopefully from somewhere more exotic than the sofa this time.

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