Japanese Kat Kits キットカット
Matcha Kit Kats in Japan
A matcha tea Kit Kat
A sakura-matcha Kit Kat, sold in Spring for cherry blossom season
A matcha Kit Kat
Kitto Katsu: you'll definitely eat it!
Have you ever tasted a matcha tea-flavored Kit Kat? How about cherry blossom flavor? Sweet potato? If you've imagined a flavor, Nestlé have probably made it into a Kit Kat... in Japan, at least. For more than 15 years, Japan has been a workshop-laboratory of the Kit Kat brand. The matcha Kit Kat has even become an iconic souvenir to bring back to friends after a visit to Japan!
The widest variety of Kit Kats in the world
Foreign travelers are often surprised to see so many varieties of this classic chocolate bar, which is only sold in 2 or 3 flavors in Europe and the United States. In Japan, the Kit Kat has been sold in more than 300 different flavors since the brand launched. Thirty of them are produced regularly, and the others are local or limited edition and seasonal flavors.
So in Japan you can try a Kit Kat flavored with cappuccino or hazelnut for the more classic flavors, but also with edamame (Japanese soy bean), kinako (roasted soybean flour), soy sauce or Okinawan purple potato. Each region of Japan has had the opportunity to showcase its own iconic flavor in Kit Kat form at one time or another: momiji manju for Hiroshima, azuki (red bean) for Hokuriku in Kanto and strawberry for the city of Tochigi, to name just a few.
The Yokohama limited edition strawberry cheesecake Kit Kat!
A variety of unusual Kit Kat flavors
A Japanese Kit Kat
A spicy red pepper(ichimi) Kit Kat from Shinshu region
An apple and carrot flavor Kit Kat
Where does the incredible success of the Kit Kat in Japan come from?
The history of the brand in Japan is very interesting... It's said that the Kit Kat originally benefited from a stroke of luck, thanks to the similarity of its name with the Japanese expression "Kitto Katsu", which means "You will definitely succeed!". That was all it took for the brand to seize the opportunity and market itself as "lucky chocolate" to send to friends or family members to wish them success in their exams.
In a society where academic success is fundamental, the Kit Kat quickly became a lucky charm. The chocolate brand was even able to enter a partnership with the Japanese Post Office: it's possible to write the address of the person you want to wish good luck to on the Kit Kat box itself (like a postcard) at the post office and give it directly to the postman! This is how a foreign brand managed to make itself visible to the Japanese public and even to fully integrate into the everyday life of the Japanese people.
See also: The Japanese post office
Special "Chocolatory" Kit Kats in Japan
A Kit Kat "Chocolatory" store
Kit Kat, an (almost) luxurious chocolate!
That's not all! Kit Kat didn't stop there: a chocolate bars usually consumed in offices distributors in her home country, it has managed to become high-end in Japan. Believe it or not: There is a Kit Kat chocolate workshop in Tokyo, where the now-famous Chef Takagi is constantly testing new chocolate bar recipes.
And forget the cheap red and white packaging: in Japan, you can buy Kit Kats in fancy boxes worthy of a great chocolate maker! Several specialist Kit Kat shops, called "Chocolatory", are also found in department stores, alongside expensive chocolate and patisserie counters.
How is this possible? It's partly explained by the nature of the chocolate market: in Japan, for a long time there was only one very visible brand (Meiji). So when the Kit Kat came along there was still plenty of room for a new brand... Not only that, but Japan is a country where chocolate is still considered a luxury product, eaten mainly on special occasions. That's how Kit Kat was able to position itself, in just a few years, as one of the most popular "mainstream" chocolate brands in Japan!
See also: 5 Japanese sweets to try