A Winning Snack: Japan's Kit Kat Phenomenon
We could've sung the jingle in three-part harmony but didn’t want to be too cliché, so we marveled at the pyramid of Japanese Kit Kat as if deliberating a painting. I tried to recall when I had first heard the playful jingle, but all I could remember is that for as long as I've liked chocolate, I've loved Kit Kat bars. I was delighted when Danny gave me a few different flavors to try! Who can resist its call to “break me off a piece of that”, and with a snap, be instantly renewed? Even now in my #adulting life, the magic is real!
Japan has over 300 different flavors to match any and every taste (almost 10 times the variety of Baskin Robbins!). Part of its popularity in Japan can be attributed to the musicality of its name: Kit Kat, pronounced as Kitto Katto, sounds similar to “kitto katsu” which means “to surely win.” This craze has even led to a Kit Kat Museum in Tokyo! The most unpredictable combinations are hard to find outside of Japan so I treated the handful of flavors in my possession with care, like an exclusive bottle of wine or the final serving of Mom's authentic dish, eaten in rations for celebration or comfort. I feared I might overindulge so I invited two gals to steady my pace: wine connoisseur and entrepreneur, Tamara Puskas, and rising star musician, Lorena Vargas. Plus, I needed unbiased opinions as most of you know I'll say YES to anything Japan!
With water in hand (and wine) in hand, we commenced our tasting adventure.
HONEYDEW MELON KIT KAT
Three individually-wrapped pairs sat snug in the light green box. Perfect, I thought, there’s one for each of us. I presented the honeydew melon duo in proper fashion, with two hands, “Doozo..." at which they replied, “Arigato. Is that right?” I nodded encouragingly as we tasted our first Japanese Kit Kat of the evening, and watched their eyes light up in wonderment.
“The melon is refreshing and not too sweet. I could definitely eat more!”
Great start. Our rating: 5 out of 5.
SAKURA MATCHA KIT KAT
We were so charmed by the first Kitto-Katto that we couldn’t wait to try another. The Sakura Matcha caught our eye and we observed the pretty packaging which featured the Japanese cherry blossom flower (sakura) and a cup of traditional Japanese green tea (matcha). The floral element slightly overpowered the matcha, making it sweeter and creamier than our first trial.
Not bad at all but it didn’t topple the honeydew melon. Our rating: 4 out of 5.
SHEKWASHA SPECIAL KIT KAT
Next, we reached for the handsome box of “Special” Shekwasha. Shekwasha (also spelled shikwasa) is similar to keylime in the U.S. A major fruit product of subtropical Okinawa, it is often used in beverages and marinades.
This was my first-ever shikwasa with chocolate combination. I thought it might be too ambitious, even for Kitto-Katto, but as soon as I bit into it, I chided myself for doubting its worth! The dark chocolate danced with the lime, and lingered just enough for us to notice the light spread of cream whispering between the wafer and chocolate.
It's insanely good! Our rating: 5 out of 5.
JAPANESE STRAWBERRY KIT KAT
Stepping into the spotlight next was Japanese Strawberry. The eau de parfum of this Kit Kat arrested our senses immediately, and we found the taste to be too concentrated and artificial. Tamara noted, "It doesn’t have the elegance of the melon." Though it deserved its namesake, we had to agree. Lorena suggested that we save our calories for elsewhere. Next!
Our rating: A mediocre 3 out of 5.
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE KIT KAT
Since the Japanese Strawberry Kit Kat found no favor with us, we decided to give its adorned cousin a try. The cheesecake helped to balance the sweetness of the strawberry. “It’s pretty much as good as my childhood gets - strawberry milk," said Lorena thoughtfully.
If you like sweet strawberry milk, this one’s for you! Our rating: 3.5 out of 5.
GREEN TEA & KINAKO SPECIAL KIT KAT
To finish off our tasting marathon, we turned to the Green Tea and Kinako Special. Like the Shekwasha, it was wrapped in premium packaging, and for good reason.
“It tastes like I’m having a cup of green tea,” Tamara cooed. We appreciated that it had the graininess, slightly bitter taste one would hope for in green tea. I felt zen and addicted.
A must-try! Our rating: 5 out of 5.
Of the six Japanese Kit Kats, we would recommend the Honeydew Melon and Green Tea and Kinako Special to share or introduce to others who are curious about Japanese snacks. The balanced, authentic flavors combined with the lovable Kit Kat crunch will not do you wrong! Also, the Shekwasha Special was a surprisingly good pairing with our red wine so if you’re in search of a dark chocolate that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and enjoy a touch of zesty lime, give it a go!
Tasting team, Lorena (left) and Tamara (right) with our friend, Johnny.
Let us know about your favorite Kit Kat flavors by writing to us or commenting below!
Lastly, if you want to try some of the exclusively delicious Japanese Kit Kat flavors, we've curated 8 of the best Kit Kat flavors in our Limited Edition Kit Kat box for this month. Get yours now before they sell out!