Japan has a long history of taking inspiration from other cultures, especially regarding food and putting a Japanese twist on it. Of course, this extends to Japan's rare Kit Kat flavors, a candy initially created in England.
About 30 years after Japan was introduced to Kit Kats, they began putting their spin on the flavors. Now, they're known for their "weird-flavored" Kit Kats, which come in 300+ flavors. Below, we explore the roots of the Kit-Kat (Japanese version) and seven rare Japanese Kit Kat flavors.
What Is The History Of Kit Kats?
Kit Kats have a long history dating back to 1935, when they were first made in England. When Kit Kats were first launched, they were called Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp. They were introduced as the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp only a few short years later.
After growing popularity, Rowntree began expanding distribution to the US and Japan. So, in 1970, production of this classic candy was granted to Hershey’s. After continued growth and demand, Nestle purchased Rowntree in 1988. It was not until the early 2000s when Nestle began experimenting with more unique Japanese flavors. The first Japanese flavor the company launched was strawberry in Hokkaido. Its quick success led to the creation of additional flavors.
Part of the reason for Kit Kat’s success in Japan is that the candy is considered a good luck charm in the country, making it the good luck champ of Japan. Because of this association, the amazing Kit Kat is often given during exam time for students.
What Was The First Kit Kat Flavor?
As mentioned, the first-ever flavor was chocolate crisp. This wafer cookie featured a milk chocolate taste. It was made with three wafer layers and a milk chocolate filling.
After inventing the strawberry flavor in Japan, the Nestle team conducted a market test and discovered this flavor was a top choice for locals and those visiting Japan. This discovery led to the team marketing Kit Kats as omiyage, a souvenir for those visiting the country to take back to loved ones.
The souvenir idea pushed Nestle to begin creating regional flavors. Of course, the flavor options took off from there! Now, you'll find fun options like strawberry cheesecake, soy sauce, and even a wasabi and white chocolate Kit Kat.
Why Does Japan Have So Many Kit Kat Flavors?
Unlike what you'll find in the States, Japan boasts an impressive 300+ rare Kit Kat flavors. Maybe you're wondering, "Why does Japan have so many Kit Kat flavors?"
There's a good reason for this number of unique flavors: a convenience store business model. In Japan, convenience stores are required to have new items every few weeks. Because of this, Japan has had to create and offer many Kit Kat flavors to feature. Though, that doesn't mean flavors are only available once. Flavors can be brought back by popular demand.
The number of available Kit Kat flavors is also due to the abovementioned marketing tactic. This marketing method led many of the rare Kit Kat flavors found in Japan to feature local flavor specialties, such as hojicha, a green tea that’s typically produced in Kyoto. While they may not be as readily available in the States, online stores have allowed Japan to share its Kit Kat flavors around the world.
Rare Kit Kat Flavors
Here's a quick look at some of Japan's rare Kit Kat flavors. Let's dive into these Japanese snack foods!
1. Azuki Sando
Azuki, also known as red beans, is a popular ingredient in Japanese desserts, making it a top choice for a Kit Kat flavor. Sandos are sweet sandwiches that include various fruit and sweet fillings. This particular flavor was created to celebrate the Aichi Prefecture, which lies in the Tokai region. Usually, the azuki sando is a breakfast item found in the area as jazz cafes. This Kit Kat features a red bean paste-forward taste.
Aomori, a prefecture famous for its oversized, juicy apples, inspired this flavor. In 2021, this Kit Kat flavor was created when Kit Kat partnered with a pastry chef. It features a fruity, crisp apple taste complemented with dark chocolate.
3. Everyday Nuts and Cranberry
You've likely had a peanut Kit Kat before since it's a popular flavor. However, in Japan, this flavor is not a top choice. To recognize Chiba Prefecture's top-quality peanuts, Kit Kat created a peanut and cranberry version of their candy.
4. Ocean Salt
One of the more unusual flavors, ocean salt, was created to recognize the stunning ocean waters of Kagoshima. This flavor is made with white chocolate and sea salt from the Seto Inland Sea.
5. Safari Maple
While it may be common to see safaris in other countries, Japan only has a few. One of Japan's safaris lies in Gunma. The safari maple flavor features an array of animals on its packaging, giving the nod to Gunma's safari. Made with white chocolate and maple flavoring, expect a pancake-like taste.
6. Roasted Green Tea
Kyoto is famous for its Hojicha, aka roasted green tea. While the city has had many collaborations with Kit Kat over the years, this flavor truly captures the essence of Kyoto. It has a bold, rich green tea taste, much different from the matcha Kit Kat.
This unexpected flavor celebrates Shizuoka's connection to the spicy condiment. The wasabi-flavored Kit Kat was created when the candy company partnered with Tamaruya Honten, a wasabi shop that has been in business for 140 years in Shizuoka.
Since Shizuoka is considered the birthplace of wasabi, it only made sense to create a wasabi-flavored candy. This Kit Kat is made with white chocolate, horse radish, and Tamaruya Honten wasabi. Expect a light wasabi flavor that will make your tongue tingle.
Where Can I Get Unique Kit Kat Flavors?
Luckily, you can easily find these rare Kit Kat flavors online. For example, Bokksu features a Japanese Kit Kat variety pack with 63 pieces split between 21 tasty flavors. This variety pack is a great way to try some fun Kit Kat flavors, like Japanese sake and Tokyo Island lemon.
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